IndyCar: St. Petersburg Preview, Predictions, and How to Watch

The start of the 2022 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

After an offseason that spanned five months and was packed with news, the IndyCar Series is back on track this weekend on the sun-baked streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

2022 brought fans an exciting championship battle that ended with Team Penske’s Will Power claiming his second series championship. It also showcased countless exciting moments, from Marcus Ericsson and Pato O’Ward duking it out on the last lap at Indianapolis to then-rookie David Malukas falling less than a second short of a victory at Gateway.

The 2023 season will have no shortage of star power either. After winning five races last year, Josef Newgarden is back as a surefire title contender, as is Colton HertaAlexander Rossi has made the move from Andretti to McLaren, and Alex Palou will stay with Chip Ganassi for another season following last year’s contract debacle.

IndyCar will also see a few new faces in 2023. Argentine Agustin Canapino will pilot the brand new #78 for Juncos Hollinger Racing, and Sting Ray Robb has moved up from Indy Lights (now Indy NXT), taking the place of Takuma Sato in the Dale Coyne Racing #51. Another former Indy Lights driver in Benjamin Pedersen will take over in the #55 Chevrolet for A.J. Foyt’s squad, with Formula 2 race winner Marcus Armstrong running road and streets courses for Chip Ganassi’s #11 machine.

2022’s edition of the race in St. Petersburg brought along Scott McLaughlin‘s first career win, his first of three in the season.

The Circuit

In use since 2003, the 1.8-mile St. Petersburg circuit uses a unique mix of the Albert Whitted Airport and the twisting city streets just outside of the airport near Tampa Bay. While IndyCar has only been racing in St. Petersburg since 2003, series such as Trans-Am began racing through the streets in 1985.

The lap starts on one of the airport’s spacious runways before taking a sharp right, a turn that has caught many drivers out in the past. From there, drivers hug the curves around Turns 2 and 3, which spits them out onto 1st Street.

After thundering their way past the high-rises, drivers will make a quick right-left-right around Al Lang Stadium, home of the USL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies. After that, it’s two consecutive right turns as drivers make their way back towards the airport.

Between Turns 9 and 10 is a small kink to the left as drivers speed past the boats on Tampa Bay. Turn 10 is a quick left-hander that puts drivers onto Dan Wheldon Way, named after the late Aussie driver who resided in the St. Petersburg area. Turns 11 and 12 is a rapid, chaotic chicane that sends drivers to Turns 13 and 14, a large hairpin that puts drivers right back on the runway.

A map of the track for the 2023 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Race Predictions – St. Petersburg

You can never tell exactly what will go down during the first race of the year, especially when its on a street course. However, I think Scott McLaughlin will take his second win in a row on the streets of St. Pete, followed by two street course specialists

  1. Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske
  2. Josef Newgarden, Team Penske
  3. Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport

How to Watch (All Times in EST)

  • Practice 1: Friday, 3/3 – 3:00 p.m. on Peacock
  • Practice 2: Saturday, 3/4 – 10:00 a.m on Peacock
  • Qualifying: Saturday, 3/4 – 2:15 p.m. on Peacock
  • Warmup: Sunday, 3/5 – 9:00 a.m. on Peacock
  • Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg: Sunday, 3/5 – 12:00 p.m on NBC (100 laps, green flag at 12:30)

All IndyCar sessions will be covered live by IndyCar Radio, which can be found on the official IndyCar mobile app or on SiriusXM Channel 160.

For a list of international broadcasters, click here.

Featured Image Credit: Chris Jones/Penske Entertainment