The time has finally come! It’s race week. The 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season kicks off with the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg.

Following what seems to have been an incredibly long off season, the teams, drivers and fans are ready to go. Team Penske head to the event with reigning series champion Josef Newgarden excited to be heading to the opening race with the number one on his car.

Speaking ahead of the event, the Tennessee native who has been an incredible ambassador to the Verizon IndyCar Series since winning his championship commented by saying:

I still have to pinch myself when I think about going to St. Pete as the Verizon IndyCar Series champion. Any driver that gets an opportunity, like the one I got with Team Penske, will tell you they expect to win right away. I certainly did as well, but I think we were all surprised at how quickly we gelled together and made it happen. But that is last year. The drive for the 2018 championship starts at St. Pete, and it’s a track where I’ve never won before. That is our only thought this weekend: going to Victory Lane

Team Penske owner Roger ‘The Captain’ Penske moves across to Will Power’s pit-stand following Helio Castroneves’ move to the IMSA championship with the Team Penske Acura.

Looking ahead to the start of the new season, Power commented by saying:

The Grand Prix of St. Petersburg has been a great race for Team Penske over the years, and it’s such an awesome place to start the season as well. For us, we were able to get last year going with a Verizon P1 Pole Award at St. Pete and we are confident that we will have speed this year. It has really been a place with a lot of ups and downs for us. We’ve won here twice but we’ve had two rough races in a row. It’s time to get back in victory lane.

Simon Pagenaud who will be in the No.22 Menards Chevrolet this weekend is hoping that he can challenge for victory lane this weekend.

The 2016 champion commented by saying:

I’m really looking forward to St. Petersburg. During the offseason, we did a lot of testing with the new car. We found some great speed and we feel pretty good about the package we’re bringing to St. Petersburg. Street courses are a lot of fun, and I really look forward to this one every year. We had a really strong finish there last year which helped us start our season on the right foot. Chevrolet has made a lot of progress on the engine, so I’m excited to go back and see what the No. 22 Menards Chevrolet team and I can do this year.

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