Home Editor's Picks 2024 NTT IndyCar Series Begins New Season Sunday

2024 NTT IndyCar Series Begins New Season Sunday

St. Petersburg's Race The First Of 18 For 2024, Local Event At Gateway Set For 8/17

by Brian Ledford

A brand-new season of open-wheeled racing begins this weekend for the NTT IndyCar Series.

Photo Credit: INDYCAR – James Black

The franchise launches their 18-race docket with Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The green flag flies at 11:30 AM Central (Live Coverage: KSDK-TV, Channel 5 on broadcast and Peacock via stream.)

As with any campaign’s first race, Sunday’s showdown provides the potential of veteran drivers that look to make hard charges early in the overall points standings as well as impressive outputs from incoming rookies.

The 100-lap, 180-mile feature on the 1.8-mile Floridian circuit course incorporates the streets of downtown St. Petersburg and a section of the runway of nearby Albert Whitted Airport, making for a topsy-turvy 14-turn layout.

Of the primary drivers to watch this season, defending IndyCar champion Alex Palou (Chip Ganassi Racing) is at the top of the list. The 26-year-old Spaniard won five of 17 races last season (and ten overall trips to the podium) to dominate the points standings and claim his second career championship in the last three seasons.

Photo Credit: INDYCAR -Chris Owens

On the other end of the age spectrum is 43-year-old Scott Dixon, who finished second in points last season thanks to claiming three checkered flags. Palou’s Ganassi teammate collected 11 podium finishes and concluded 2023 extremely strong, winning three of the last four IndyCar races. The Kiwi seeks his seventh championship as he begins his third decade of racing with the brand and currently ranks second overall in IndyCar race wins (56).

Two-time IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden (Team Penske) collected four wins last season but a bunch of setbacks during the final stretches of 2023 dropped the Tennessean to a fifth-place finish overall in the standings. Newgarden has had success on the St. Petersburg circuit, winning back-to-backs in 2019 and 2020.

2023’s third place driver in the points standings, Scott McLaughlin (Team Penske), had a solo win last season but his consistency (14 Top Ten finishes) resulted in a high overall output. The New Zealander won the 2022 event at St. Petersburg, so he knows the layout well.

Others to watch Sunday include Pato O’ Ward (Arrow McLaren Racing), who finished fourth in points in 2023 thanks to four runner-up finishes and Marcus Ericsson (Andretti Global), who won last year’s race at St. Pete.

Photo Credit – James Black

Additional intrigue will come from Kyle Kirkwood (Andretti Global), who won two races last season, two-time IndyCar champ Will Power (Team Penske), who also claimed a pair, and Denmark’s Christian Lundgaard (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing), who notched his first-ever IndyCar win at Toronto last July.

Also pushing for early traction includes Colton Herta (Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian) and Alexander Rossi (Arrow McLaren), who both finished within the Top 10 in the 2023 overall standings.

Finally, the crop of incoming rookies looking to impress include INDY NXT Champion Christian Rasmussen (Ed Carpenter Racing) as well as Chip Ganassi Racing upstart Linus Lundqvist, the 2022 Indy Lights champion.

Sunday’s race winner is hard to project, given the wealth of talent driving and the unknowns that occur as a race progresses. So, expect the unexpected.

The NTT IndyCar series returns locally for its annual stop at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway on Saturday, August 17.

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

+ posts

By trade, he is a six-time, regional Emmy Award-winning news videographer/editor for KTVI/KPLR-TV. By hobby, he is a writer for Arch City Media, dating back to February 2014. Emphasis is on featuring and promoting local women's sports, but will cover anything that is not reported by traditional media outlets. Also a contributor to local concert reviews.

Related Articles