As far as season openers go, IndyCar’s one at St. Petersburg tomorrow is chock-full of unknowns. Everyone is curious as to how Juan Pablo Montoya will perform in his return, and as to how the grid will shake up with new entrees and engines.
Nonetheless, this weekend is already off to a familiar showing with last season’s winner at St. Pete, James Hinchcliffe, topping the opening practice session.
Britain’s Justin Wilson was less than 0.006 seconds back of Hinchcliffe, despite fracturing his pelvis in a crash during the last IndyCar race.
Takuma Sato finished opening practice in third, putting Honda-powered cars in the top three spots.
Will Power was the fastest Chevrolet-powered driver on the board, and is the only driver in the field to have won on multiple occasions at this circuit.
Farther on down the board, Carlos Munoz was the fastest of the four new rookies in the field, finishing opening practice 15th out of 22 cars, less than 0.8 seconds back of Hinchcliffe.
Only two spots above Munoz was Dixon in 13th, who knows that his performance at St. Pete is something that could dictate how the rest of the season plays out.
“For us in the past when we have come close to another three championships I think it’s always been the start of the year that has kind of hindered us,” confesses Dixon, who won the 2013 IndyCar Championship. “I think we need to focus on making a good start in the first three or four races.”
There is still plenty of time to be gained for all of the teams, as two more practice sessions and one qualifying session will take place before the race on 3 p.m. ET Sunday.
Practice 1 Results:
- James Hinchcliffe (27) – 1:02.9326
- Justin Wilson (19) – 1:02.9385
- Takuma Sato (14) – 1:03.0603
- Will Power (12) – 1:03.1932
- Sebastian Bourdais (11) – 1:03.1948
- Ryan Briscoe (8) - 1:03.2067
- Ryan Hunter-Reay (28) - 1:03.2684
- Simon Pagenaud (77) – 1:03.3087
- Graham Rahal (15) - 1:03.3254
- Tony Kanaan (10) - 1:03.3258
- Helio Castroneves (3) - 1:03.3998
- Josef Newgarden (67) - 1:03.4827
- Scott Dixon (9) - 1:03.6425
- Juan Pablo Montoya (2) – 1:03.6759
- Carlos Munoz (34) - 1:03.6948
- Mike Conway (20) - 1:03.7559
- Marco Andretti (25) - 1:03.7807
- Charlie Kimball (83) - 1:03.9023
- Jack Hawksworth (98) – 1:04.0541
- Mikhail Aleshin (7) – 1:04.1986
- Sebastian Saavedra (17) – 1:04.6781
- Carlos Huertas (18) – 1:07.7706