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IndyCar Series 2012: Who Will Win the 2012 St. Pete Grand Prix?

James WilliamsAnalyst IIIMarch 24, 2012

IndyCar Series 2012: Who Will Win the 2012 St. Pete Grand Prix?

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    This might be one of the most exciting seasons in the history of the IZOD IndyCar Series. There will be a great mixture of road courses, street venues and ovals to race on. The series welcomes back two old friends in Chevrolet and Lotus who join Honda in powering the cars.

    The St. Petersburg Grand Prix has become a great starting point for kicking off the IZOD IndyCar Series. With the surrounding palm trees and the crystal blue water that frames the street track as it weaves through the downtown waterfront, the setting is one of awesome beauty.

    As beautiful as St. Petersburg is, it can also be a great challenge with its long straightaways that feed into tricky curves. To start off the season in this lovely, warm city on Florida's west coast is a perfect way to showcase cars and drivers. This is a race that requires a team effort.

    So who will win the 2012 St. Petersburg Grand Prix? Well, here are five drivers with the best chance to make it to the top of the podium.        

5. Tony Kanaan

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    For Tony Kanaan, St. Petersburg has been both a blessing and a curse.

    He has finished consistently in the top ten at the event, but he has never won the race. He will be driving the No. 82 GEICO—KV Racing Technology—Honda/Dallara/Firestone.

    The question is: will he be able take a new car that he has never driven before to victory lane?

    The answer is not this week. He will have success this season, but it won't be in his first outing in his new Lotus.   

4. Scott Dixon

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    When it comes to racing in St. Petersburg, Scott Dixon would rather forget this race.

    He has not finished better than a disappointing 16th, but things could be different this year. He will be at the wheel of the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

    Dixon and his team have great hopes that 2012 will be a good year for them and a win in the season opener would be a good start. 

3. Helio Castroneves

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    Helio Castroneves has had great success in St. Petersburg, standing atop the podium in 2006 and again in 2007.

    This course sets up well for his No. 3 Team Penske Chevy, and a new engine in this 2012 season should be a good fit for him. It would be hard to call a man with such success at St. Petersburg a dark horse, but don’t rule him out of this race. 

2. Will Power

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    Truth be told you could pick Will Power to win and there is a great chance that you would be right.

    This is the type of course that he loves and he has had success here. He was the winner in 2010 and was second last year, so clearly he is comfortable in St. Petersburg.

    He will be behind the wheel of the No. 12 Team Penske Chevy so he has to be considered one of the favorites. 

1. Dario Franchitti

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    The man to beat in St. Petersburg is really no surprise: Dario Franchitti.

    Franchitti won the race in 2011, and he has only finished outside the top 10 on one occasion due to mechanical failure. Franchitti will be in the familiar No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

    My prediction is that the No. 10 Honda will take the checkered flag over the Chevrolet of Will Power in the first race of the season. Chevy and the talented Mr. Power will have many wins this season, but I don’t think it will be this week. 

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