NTT IndyCar Series started on the streets of St. Petersburg i Florida.
Will Power unsurprisingly took Pole Position. The Australian has always been lightning fast on this exact track, and it wasn’t surprising either that his Team Penske colleague Josef Newgarden would start from P2. But in third position we had rookie Felix Rosenqvist, who was faster than his teammate and defending champion, Scott Dixon. Andretti Autosport drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi took the third row.
The start was one of the most undramatic in St Pete’s history, where there was no contact on the first lap. Rosenqvist went up to second place already after a few metres and put pressure on Power.
Marcus Ericsson was the first one to pit, on lap 6, and seemingly on a different strategy than the rest of the field.
The first drama of the day came on lap 12. The lap where Sebastien Bourdais had to retire with fire from the rear of his car. Luckily, he could drive aside and didn’t have to enter the pitlane.
But they weren’t so lucky seven laps later, when Ryan Hunter-Reay retired with a engine damage in Turn 1. But the majority of the field had done their first pitstop, so only Tony Kanaan, Ben Hanley, Spencer Pigot and Max Chilton went to pit.
When the race got restarted, Rosenqvist was fast to drive past Power, in a fantastic overtaking in Turn 1-2 combination. So for the second year in a row, we had a rookie leading the race in St. Pete, like Robert Wickens did in the most of 2018 season.
The green flag only lasted for three laps, before they had to do another Full Course Yellow, when Ed Jones hit the wall hard in Turn 9. Furthermore his car got brushed by Matheus Leist from the side, which caused both drivers to retire. It took them eight laps with reduced speed before the race got restarted.
Rosenqvist got a nice restart and could hold Power behind him through the whole stint, until the two of them pitted after 50 and 51 laps respectively.
Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon had however other plans and drove more laps on their older tires, and they could stay in front after their pitstop. Afterwards it was just a total dominance from Newgarden, who held Dixon about two or three seconds behind him the entire time.
Rosenqvist fell back behind Power in the pitstop, so the Swede was stuck with the view of the silver-grey car before him for the rest of the race.
Marcus Ericsson and Takuma Sato had to retire with mechanical problems, respectively 56 and 35 laps before the chequered flag. Both had shown potentials to finish in top ten, but instead they had to be content with the points from 19th and 20th positions.
Josef Newgarden won the race in pure dominance ahead of Scott Dixon and Will Power, followed by Felix Rosenqvist who just missed out the podium. After that we had Alexander Rossi, who had never been a threat in the race today, while James Hinchcliffe also drove an anonymous race in P6.
Simon Pagenaud drove a nice race, going up from 13th to 7th position, but he did it mostly due to a clever pit strategy.
The next round of NTT IndyCar Series will be run in two weeks’ time on Circuit Of The Americas in Austin, Texas.