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Monday, May 27, 2024

Newgarden dominant in St. Petersburg Indycar opener

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St. Petersburg, FL – during the 2024 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the streets of St. Petersburg. (Photo/Joe Skibinski | IMS Photo)

On a weekend that couldn’t of been more tumultuous for the Indycar Series in terms of public discussions pertaining to the financial viability for team owners, polesitter Josef Newgarden focused squarely on the task at hand and obliterated the field leading ninety-two of the one hundred 100 laps to capture the 20th running of the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg. 

Newgarden toyed with the entire field throughout the event, relinquishing the lead only through routine pit stops, giving Team Penske a quick start to the 2024 campaign in the process.

Team McLaren’s Pato O’Ward brought it home second with Newgarden’s teammate and 2023 Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg Champion Scott McLaughlin rounding out the podium in third position. 

Notes: Defending NTT Indycar Series Champion Alex Palou made a spirited charge throughout the day to finish sixth after starting thirteenth.

The race was relatively clean with just three cautious flags flown for a total of nine laps, which was quite the dramatic improvement over last year which was a virtual crashfest.

Newgarden’s margin of victory was nearly eight seconds which demonstrated the strength of the Chevrolet engine that powered each of the top four finishers.

Nolan Siegel won the season opening Indy NXT race with Jacob Abel grabbing second and Louis Foster capturing third.

It wouldn’t be Indycar without Paddock Politics and the aforementioned barbs between team owners and the NTT Indycar Series became even more public when Andretti Global owner Michael Andretti stated the series owner Roger Penske should sell the series if he’s not looking to invest more money. 

Some feel the alleged request by the series to receive funds in exchange for a Nascar type charter system is unacceptable while others such as Chip Ganassi pointed to the tremendous capital that Penske invested in the series during the pandemic to keep it viable for both the teams and NBC Sports. 

Stay tuned as it always gets very interesting when the two parties essentially argue everything from the purses away from the epic Indianapolis 500 to their overall operational expenditures. 

When you add this to the delay of the much anticipated Hybrid technology that Indycar engine manufacturers developed, along with the reshuffle of the season ending Nashville event, not to mention an expiring television rights contract, the series has more than just a few small “matters” on their plate.

The next event on the NTT Indycar Series calendar is a exhibition race at  the Thermal Club course near Palm Springs,  California. While it’s a non-points race, it does pay a whopping one million dollars to the winner.

You can watch it live on NBC  affiliate WTHR here locally with the green flag scheduled to wave at 12:30 ET. That’s 930AM (ugh) for all you California residents.

Danny Bridges, who would like to thank both Mother Nature and Southwest Airlines for all the delays and cancelations, can be reached at (317) 370-8447 or at bridgeshd@aol.com. 

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