Home Editor's Picks IndyCar Preview: Sunday’s St. Pete Street Stop Could Result In Points Flip-Flop

IndyCar Preview: Sunday’s St. Pete Street Stop Could Result In Points Flip-Flop

by Brian Ledford

After claiming his first career NTT IndyCar Series win last weekend, Alex Palou attempts to maintain his lead in the championship standings Sunday while others look to snatch the current top spot.

Photo Credit: INDYCAR – Joe Skibinski

The 24-year-old Spaniard competes alongside 23 other open-wheeled pilots at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Sunday’s 100-lap, 181-mile event begins at 12:40 pm Eastern (11:30 am St. Louis time).

Palou (Chip Ganassi Racing) utilized smart strategies that helped him secure checkered flags at last Sunday’s series opener at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. (RECAP) Using a two-pit stop method compared to the majority, his No. 10 NTT Data Honda staved off hard charges from Will Power (Team Penske) and teammate Scott Dixon to net his newfound personal best.

Photo Credit: INDYCAR – Joe Skibinski

This weekend’s race on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit through downtown St. Petersburg is the second of a 17-race campaign for the NTT IndyCar Series and Palou fully knows that talks of titles is way too early to speak of.

“This championship is so long that you need to take it one race at a time,” said Palou of the marathon that ends in late-September. “Maybe when it’s three races to go, we can start talking about what’s really the championship or how is it going. At the moment, let’s focus on St. Pete and try to do the best result we can there.”

After the first of 17 races, Palou currently sits on top of the standings (53 points) while Power (-12) and Dixon (-18) closely trails.

Photo Credit: INDYCAR – Joe Skibinski

Dixon, the series’ defending champion that craves a seventh career IndyCar title (which would tie the legendary AJ Foyt’s overall record), has never won at St. Petersburg and hopes for solid collective efforts from the four-car Ganassi fold.

“We’ll keep our head down, of course, for confidence and feeling good,” he said. “This is a huge weekend. Hopefully, all of our cars will be strong.”

Meanwhile Power, who finished a strong runner-up at the series opener, seeks his third career victory at St. Pete, having claimed wins 2010 and 2014, and a catapult into the points lead.

“It (was) satisfying to get a good start,” said Power of Sunday’s finish. “I’ve been around long enough to know how this ebbs and flows, and I think I’ve got a very good group of guys on my car this year. I think we’ve got the right combination to win another championship.”

Photo Credit: INDYCAR – Joe Skibinski

Other narratives to watch this weekend would be potential rebounds by last season’s second and third place series points finishers, Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden and Team Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta, who each saw early exits after an opening-lap crash last Sunday.

Pato O’ Ward (Arrow McLaren SP) and Sebastien Bourdais (AJ Foyt Racing) respectively finished fourth and fifth last weekend and could shake up the hierarchy with strong results.

Practice and qualifying rounds can be seen Friday and Saturday on the Peacock Premium streaming service. Sunday’s coverage on NBC (Locally, KSDK-TV Channel 5) begins at 11 am.

For more information on the NTT IndyCar Series, go to their official website.

The series returns to World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway on Saturday, August 21 for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500.

Arch Sports Media will have a full recap of Sunday’s race later that evening.

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