170 days could not have passed fast enough.
But the season has finally arrived and we can all get back to our weekly to semi-weekly fix of Indy.
Practice was intriguing. With the return of the season brings adjustments and learning for both fans and drivers. Fans of course trying to pick out their favorite drivers, now dressed in new colors and livery; Drivers also adjusting to new components or even manufacturers (looking at Conor Daly and Carlos Munoz with Chevrolet at A.J. Foyt, Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan with Honda, etc.), as well as needing to adjust to modifications done to the St. Petersburg track (we’re looking at you, turn 3). And a big concern going into the weekend is the new brakes, which drivers are still trying to figure out as was seen during practice and qualifying.
Qualifying had an interesting start, as well as addition to the field yesterday, as a typo marked that the great legend Mario Andretti was qualifying, rather than his grandson:
Continuing, Honda appeared to be the dominant manufacturer on the field at practice and in qualifying, but that’s because it is. Honda teams significantly outnumber Chevrolet on the track this year, which is curious considering Chevrolet’s outstanding records and performance last year (I mean, did we not see that the first four spots in the championship were won by Chevrolet drivers?). But that’s beyond this blog…so we continue….Chevrolet did take P1 in qualifying with Will Power grabbing his 7th St. Petersburg pole and his 45th pole overall. The man does not stop.
Close behind, and taking P2 for today’s race is Scott Dixon, who still has yet to win a race at St. Petersburg. The man is awfully talented and has managed to clinch some great wins over the years, and as the only driver to break the 1:00 mark in qualifying times yesterday, it was rather surprising to see him in P2, rather than P1. You can tell Dixon wants it though, and I would suggest keeping an eye on him for this race, most definitely.
Josef Newgarden appears to be adjusting quite fine to his new spot with Team Penske. He made practice and qualifying for P4 look easy, and he’s the only other Penske team member in the fast 6 yesterday. We all know it: Newgarden is set up to do very, very well this season.
I think the last driver to remark on this weekend, and a “one-to-watch” for the season is Marco Andretti. In the first practice, he landed P1 and remained in the top ten positions for the next two practices. The same trend didn’t quite follow into qualifying, which he made a note was hard to take. And unfortunately, it’s a trend we saw a lot last season–great practices, great and okay qualifying and a subpar race. He’s really been trying to point out that he is more focused and ready to have fun out there for this next season. He’s been training hard in the off-season, as well as trying to make the positive mental adjustments he noted he needed for this season. We’ll see today if it will pay off.
But that’s enough for now. Race broadcast starts at Noon EST! With more of this excited blubbering to follow.