The 2013 IndyCar Series will kick off its season on Sunday with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
It will be hard to top the drama of last season. The title race went down the final event of the season, with Ryan Hunter-Reay barely edging Will Power by what was nearly the slimmest of margins.
The phrase always the bridesmaid, never the bride is quickly becoming applicable to Power. He's now finished second for the third year in a row.
With only 19 races on the calendar, a few bad performances can disrupt an entire campaign. Starting strong in St. Petersburg would be huge.
Since this is a street course, fans aren't going to see blinding speeds. What they will see, however, is some adept handling as drivers work their way around ridiculous curves.
Helio Castroneves will be looking to repeat as champion. The Grand Prix of St. Petersburg was one of only two races Castroneves won last season. He's had plenty of success in Florida, having won in St. Petersburg on three difference occasions.
Here's a complete preview for the Honda Grand Prix, including the starting order, schedule and drivers to watch.
Date: Sunday, March 23, 2013
Start Time: 12:00 p.m. ET
Venue: St. Petersburg, Fla.
Starting Order (via MotorSportsTalk)
|1||12-Will Power||14-Takuma Sato|
|2||78-Simona de Silvestro||27-James Hinchcliffe|
|3||3-Helio Castroneves||55-Tristan Vautier|
|4||25-Marco Andretti||1-Ryan Hunter-Reay|
|5||6-Sebastian Saavedra||10-Dario Franchitti|
|6||11-Tony Kanaan||22-Oriol Servia|
|7||19-Justin Wilson||83-Charlie Kimball|
|8||15-Graham Rahal||67-Josef Newgarden|
|9||98-Alex Tagliani||16-James Jakes|
|10||77-Simon Pagenaud||9-Scott Dixon|
|11||7-Sebastien Bourdais||5-EJ Viso|
|12||20-Ed Carpenter||4-JR Hildebrand|
NBC Sports Network will be airing the Indy Lights series race in St. Petersburg at 11:00 a.m. Following that will be live coverage of the Honda Grand Prix at noon.
Drivers to Watch
Ryan Hunter-Reay is IndyCar's reigning champion. His 468 points last year gave him the 2012 championship. It was quite a surprise considering he had never finished better than seventh in both the Champ Car and IndyCar Series.
While Hunter-Reay will probably accept a repeat of his St. Petersburg performance from last season—third place—he'll be wanting to start his 2013 campaign with a bang.
Power clearly loves St. Petersburg when it comes to qualifying. He won the pole for the fourth year in a row. It's not necessarily a good omen. Despite winning the pole last year, Power only finished seventh. He very quickly recovered, winning the next three races.
He couldn't replicate that run over the course of the season, eventually losing the title to Hunter-Reay by only three points. Power is likely still smarting over coming so close to the title without winning. He'll want to start the season off with a bang last year.
As the reigning champ in St. Petersburg, all eyes will be on Castroneves. He finished fourth in the standings for the third time in four years last season.
The Brazilian is one of the veterans of the circuit. He'll be looking to win his first ever points title. Castroneves has had runner-up finishes in 2003 and 2008 but never once ended atop the standings at the end of the year.