Story Credit: Jared DePouw
Photo Credit: INDYCAR Photo
Out of the last 12 races at St. Pete, Team Penske has started on pole for eight of those races. In fact, out of those eight poles, Will Power is responsible for seven of them with Helio Castroneves as the only other Penske driver to win pole here (2007). You’d be hard pressed to pick anyone else to win the NTT P1 award on Saturday.
In addition, Team Penske has won four out of the last seven races but given the dominance of Sebastien Bourdais the last two years this weekend could be tricky in setting a fantasy lineup.
Rookies Facing “Trial by Fire”
This weekend will feature a total of five rookies, with three of them making their first NTT IndyCar Series start. Marcus Ericsson, Ben Hanley, and Felix Rosenqvist will all make their first starts this weekend with Colton Herta and Santino Ferrucci having already started at least one race in 2018.
But don’t let the title “rookie” fool you as Ericsson has spent the last five years racing in Formula One. It will be interesting to see how Ericsson is able to transition from F1 to a slightly slower Indy car and actually being able to compete.
In fact, you can be sure that Rosenqvist and Ericsson are ready to compete in the NTT IndyCar Series given that Rosenqvist finished P1 and Ericsson P3 in Free Practice #1.
Skill vs Luck
Winning in the NTT IndyCar Series requires both skill & luck, however just how much of each you need can vary wildly. In order to have the best chance of winning a race, you need skill to qualify at the front. And while it’s far easier to win a race when you start on pole, all it takes is a little bit of bad luck to ruin an entire weekend. But conversely, you can qualify poorly but strike gold and win: just ask Bourdais.
In 2018 Bourdais started 14th after not even making it out of the first round of knockout qualifying, yet took advantage of a late-race incident between the Top-2 cars at the end of the race to win St. Pete for the second straight year.