Hitting the Apex: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

IndyCar is back on track for 2024! ATRL’s Eline Luna takes a look at Streets of St. Pete this weekend for the season finisher.

Eline Luna

March 7, 2024

The 2024 IndyCar season kicks off this weekend at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. This year marks the 20th consecutive running of this race and the 12th time this race has opened the IndyCar season.

This street circuit runs through parts of downtown and passes an airport. Despite being a street circuit, the track is quite smooth compared to other street circuits IndyCar visits. Turn 1 is relatively wide and provides great overtaking opportunities. At the start, the field will have to bunch up as it enters Turn 2, making this section prone to incidents. 

Chris Jones/Penske Entertainment

 

Last year Marcus Ericsson won the race after starting from P4 while reigning champion Álex Palou finished 8th marking his worst finish of the season tied with Iowa Race 1. The race last year was highlighted by a starting crash at turn 3 which saw Devlin DeFrancesco launched into the air. The accident led to the retirement of five drivers and a red flag. Another crash on lap 42 also saw a car temporarily lifted from the ground.

 

Driver Changes

IndyCar’s 2024 season starts with several moves on the grid. Tom Blomqvist makes his full-time IndyCar debut with Meyer Shank Racing in the #66. Marcus Ericsson joins Andretti Global in the #28 as he replaces Romain Grosjean who has departed to Juncos Hollinger Racing to race in the #77. 2022 Indy Lights (now known as IndyNXT) Champion Linus Lundqvist makes his full-time IndyCar debut at Chip Ganassi Racing as he replaces Ericsson in the #8. Kyffin Simpson also joins Chip Ganassi Racing in the #4, expanding the team to 5 full-time cars.

IndyCar Rookie Kyffin Simpson – Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment

 

David Malukas joins Arrow McLaren in the #6 but is unable to race this weekend as he recovers from a broken wrist. Callum Ilott, who raced for Juncos Hollinger Racing last season, will be his temporary replacement. Pietro Fittipaldi joins Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in the #30, making his first IndyCar start since 2021. 2023 Indy NXT champion Christian Rasmussen joins Ed Carpenter Racing in the #20 he will compete at all road and street courses (with Ed Carpenter driving all ovals). He will also compete at the Indy 500 in a separate entry. 

Sting Ray Robb joins A. J. Foyt Racing in the #41 departing Dale Coyne Racing after one season. Replacing him at DCR will be Colin Braun and a TBA driver, Braun will race in St. Pete and at the non-championship round at the Thermal Club with hopes of competing in more races in the coming season. 2023 IndyNXT Rookie of the Year Nolan Siegel also joins DCR in the #18 partaking in any events that do not clash with his IndyNXT commitments with the affected rounds driven by Jack Harvey.

Track Information

  • Race Length: 100 Laps | 180 Miles
  • Turns: 14
  • Track Length: 1.800 miles (2.897 km)
  • Most Wins: Hélio Castroneves (3)
  • Lap record: 59.3466 (Will Power, 2022)

Last year’s winner Marcus Ericsson – James Black/Penske Entertainment

 

Past winners:

2023: Marcus Ericsson

2022: Scott McLaughlin

2021: Colton Herta

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eline follows a variety of motorsports from Formula E to IMSA to Nascar to WEC. They hope to study Mechanical Engineering to work in motorsports one day.

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