The 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season gets underway on Friday with the opening practice session of the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg.

Following what seemed like a long off-season it is time to get back to the business on track. There have been a number of big changes since the chequered flag dropped at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma last season.

There have been driver changes, engine supplier changes, new drivers coming in so it is going to be extremely interesting to see who will be on top at this weekend’s Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg.

Chip Ganassi Racing have returned to Honda power following three season with Chevrolet and this weekend, following the departure of Target, Scott Dixon will carry primary sponsorship from GE LED Lighting along with associate sponsorship from NTT DATA. All four Ganassi cars were extremely quick during last weeks final test before the opening of the race of the year where the team had a 1,2,3,4 on the final day at Sebring International Raceway.

The fast times in Sebring for Ganassi bode well for St Petersburg as the circuit at St Pete has similar characteristics although it is not as bumpy.

Team Penske have a great record at the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg as they have won here twice in the last two years with Juan Pablo Montoya winning here in 2015 and 2016, Montoya has been replaced in the No.2 Verizon Chevrolet by former Ed Carpenter Racing driver Josef Newgarden so we can expect Penske to be extremely quick this weekend.

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports James Hinchcliffe has a good record here having won the event with Andretti Autosport in 2013 so the Mayor of HinchTown will be hoping for a strong result this weekend.

Aj Foyt Racing will be hoping for a strong start to a new chapter in their history as not only do they have two new drivers in Conor Daly and Carlos Munoz but they also have a new engine supplier with Chevrolet replacing Honda.

It is not long until the green flag flies for the start of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season, first practice for the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg gets underway at 11:15AM ET and is live on –

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