(WINDSOR, ON) – The 2015 edition of IndyCar racing is set to kick off in St Petersburg, FL, on March 29, as 24 drivers take to the grid in the 110 lap, 198 mile race. The beginning of the season was late in arriving due to the deletion of the scheduled March 8 date in Brasilia, Brazil. The new season opener will debut the recently tested manufacturer-designed aero kits.
The 2014 St Petersburg winner, Will Power in the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske car, is set to defend his title against the likes of last year’s pole sitter Takuma Sato, driving for AJ Foyt Racing, and lap record holder Sebastien Bourdais (1:00.928; 106.710 mph). Power won in St Petersburg, after qualifying fourth, then went on to win his first IndyCar Series championship.
“The drive to win multiple championships is just as strong as the drive to win one. To do that, it’s important to get off to a good start at St. Pete,” said Power. “Winning there last year in the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet was critical to the championship push. Now that I’m in the No. 1 Verizon Chevy for 2015, we need to put the new number in Victory Lane as well.”
Practice will start on Friday and Saturday followed by three rounds of qualifying during the afternoon of March 28. The green flag will fly to start the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg on Sunday at 3:37 pm.
Five drivers will make their first start at St Petersburg, including Stefano Coletti, Sage Karam, Gabby Chaves, Luca Filippi, and Francesco Dracone. Coletti, Karam, and Chaves are Sunoco Rookie of the Year award candidates.
“I am really excited to start the championship and the challenge of learning all the new tracks,” Coletti said. “I have done a few tests now with KV Racing Technology and gathered some valuable data, which I’m looking forward to being able to use this weekend at St Petersburg.
St Petersburg will also see the return of Simona de Silvestro to the IndyCar circuit. She made 65 starts over four seasons and is making her return to the series as part of Andretti Autosport, after a year in Formula One. de Silvestro replaces Oakville’s James Hinchcliffe who moved from Andretti to Arrow/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Racing.
“St Pete is like the first day of school, providing that you like school, that is,” Hinchcliffe said. “I love going there. The race is awesome, the track is fun, and it’s a place that I’ve always run well at. It’s been nice getting back in the cars to go testing, but I think the whole Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team just wants to get back to racing and see what we can do in the Arrow car. It can’t come soon enough.”
Coverage of the Grand Prix of St Petersburg begins at 3:00 pm on ABC.