INDYCAR SERIES 2024 ST. PETERSBURG

Newgarden's Triumph at St. Petersburg in the NTT IndyCar Season Opener

motorsport journalist

Janis Adams

Motorsport Journalist

Under the glorious Florida sunshine, the opening of the 2024 season of the NTT IndyCar Series was underway with the drop of the green flag signaling the start of the20th edition of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Setting the Stage: A Riveting Start and Unexpected Turns

Following last year’s pandemonium with a first lap pile-up, Josef Newgarden led a clean start to the pleasure of what has been said to have been the largest crowd at the sunshine state’s only IndyCar street race.

The caution flag came deep into the 100 lap race, happening at lap29. The first yellow flag was for Marcus Armstrong, whose No. 11 Dallara-Honda made contact with the Turn 10 barrier. The track was cleared of nearly all the drivers, as the field came in for pit stops under the auspices of the paced speed.

After leading the first 28 laps from the pole position, leaving the pits saw Josef Newgarden fall behind Colton Herta and Felix Rosenqvist.

Christian Lundgaard, who had pitted during Lap 1due to a tire puncture, and who did not follow suit by pitting on the caution grabbed the lead ahead of Rosenqvist, Herta, Newgarden and O’Ward.

After the restart, Newgarden quickly got past Herta and Rosenqvist into second behind Lundgaard in Lap 30.

Intense Moments and Strategic Maneuvers

Going into Lap 38 a second yellow flag was thrown as Sting Ray Robb experienced brake issues going into the first turn sidelining him for the rest of the race.

The yellow flag proved an advantage for Newgarden as he reclaimed the lead. The Team Penske driver grabbed the first place spot during the restart, after Lundgaard pitted from the lead. 

By the midpoint of the season opener, Newgarden lead the chase to the podium of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Starting from the pole position, he led 43 of the first 50 laps. He found himself no longer looking over his shoulder to see where defending race winner Marcus Ericsson was running. Ericson forfeited his chance at the podium when his No. 28Dallara-Honda lost power just past halfway through the race.

After Linus Lundqvist landed in the Turn 10 tire barrier, the caution flag waved again. Upon review of how the episode played out, stewards for IndyCar decidedly found fault with Romain Grosjean. He was penalized for avoidable contact with Lundqvist. Grosjean was then dealt a drive-through penalty and with 14 laps left pulled out of the race all together.

The Triumph of Team Penske

Newgarden decidedly dominated the season opener, leading 92 of 100 laps at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Newgarden bested Pato O’Ward by more than 6 seconds for the win.

The NTT IndyCar Series season opener proved a powerful statement by Team Penske. Newgarden's teammates Scott McLaughlin and Will Power secured the next two spots, with Chevy claiming the top four places. Colton Herta capped off the top five as the first Honda driver to finish. Alex Palou, Felix Rosenqvist, Alexander Rossi, Scott Dixon and Rinus VeeKay completed the top 10tier.

WHAT’S NEXT

IndyCar’s next race, with the season’s second display of raw horsepower and determined drivers looking toward a place on the podium is the Million Dollar Challenge exhibition at The Thermal Club on Sunday, March 24 at12:30 PM ET.

 

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