It all Starts in St. Pete

By on February 25, 2013

Scott Dixon a member of the Target Chip Ganassi Racing Team (photo: Chuck Green/Cg Photography)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saint Petersburg, Fla. – Construction on the 1.8 mile 14 turn street course along the downtown waterfront of Saint Petersburg is well underway and in less than four weeks, the stars and cars of North Americas premier open wheel racing series, The Izod Indy Car series, will kick off what series organizers say should be a very exciting 2013 season.

Ryan Hunter-Reay (photo: Chuck Green/Cg Photograhy)


Changes to the race schedule in 2013 will bring the series into new market areas with races scheduled at Pocono and Houston. The scheduled will include a stop at Sao Paulo, Brazil and a doubleheader weekend in Toronto.  Fan favorites like Saint Petersburg, Long Beach, and Sonoma remain. The series will visit the historic Milwaukee Mile, and will again run on the ultra fast ovals at Texas, Iowa, and the season finale at Fontana. The crown jewel of the season is of course the Memorial Day

Classic, the iconic Indy 500.


Several changes to the race format will be instituted in 2013.  Race lengths have been altered to discourage fuel mileage racing, three doubleheader weekends at Detroit, Houston, and Toronto will feature European style standing starts. The race on the oval at Iowa will not see single car qualifying but will use heat races to set the grid. These changes in race format are designed to enhance the fan experience, and bring new fans into the sport.


As far as predicting what any particular team or driver might do in 2013, well, that’s almost impossible, there are a number of fan favorites that will certainly be in contention from week to week, but the outcome is something that will only be seen as the season progresses. As a professional motorsports journalist, I was asked to offer a few opinions on who I think might visit the victory podium, and who the 2013 series champion may be. Keep in mind, these are my observations, and opinions, on any given race week end any of the teams and drivers are capable of winning, there will be some that stand out, and others will surprise us with their results, So, let’s look at few of the contenders.


Team Penske brings a formidable line up for 2013. Australian, Will Power, will again be behind the wheel of the #12 Chevrolet

Gotta have Will Power to race Indy Cars (photo: Chuck Green/Cg Photography)

Dallara. Power finished second in points in 2012, recorded 3 wins, and sat on pole five times. There is no doubt Power will be looking to improve on his 2012 record, and possibly win his first series championship. Three time Indy 500 winner, with 21 career wins including 2 victories in 2012, Helio Castroneves adds to the Penske threat to win it all. Helio is a fan favorite with his infectious smile and his easy going demeanor; he is also the only driver in the series to have won a mirror ball trophy. Watch for Helio to do good things in 2013.


Andretti Auto sports returns with defending series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe, and Marco Andretti. Hunter-Reay will be looking to carry the momentum from 2012 into this season. Hinchcliffe will look to improve on his eight top ten finishes in 2012, and Andretti brings a more focused attitude, and commitment into the 2013 season. All three Andretti drivers will run well, expect to see Hunter-Reay, and Andretti on top of the victory podium in 2013.


After finishing third for the past two seasons, Scott Dixon, driving for Target Chip Ganassi Racing will be a factor in 2013. Team mate and four time series champion, Dario Franchitti, despite his highly publicized split with wife Ashley Judd, seems more intent than ever to win his fifth series championship.


Tony Kanaan, the personable Brazilian driving for KV Racing may be the man to watch in 2013. He will be looking for his second series championship, and a few Indy Car insiders say their money is on TK.


Simona de Silvestro “The Swis Miss” (photo: Chuck Green/Cg Photography)

My dark horse pick to visit victory lane in 2013 has to be the Swiss Miss, Simona de Silvestro. After a dismal 2012, Simona comes into 2013 with new power, and a new team mate in Tony Kanaan. After struggling with the Lotus power plant last year, DeSilvestro has a Chevrolet engine mounted directly behind her driver’s seat, and she should excel on the street, and road courses. With the help and knowledge of team mate Kanaan, and the fine people at KV Racing, there is no reason to believe that Simona will not stand atop the podium somewhere during the 2013 season.


 

Simona de Silvestro (photo: Chuck Green/Cg Photography)

 

 

 

Now for the big one, who will be the 2013 Izod Indy Car Series Champion? Any of the above mentioned drivers could win it all,

we might even see a first time champion, but I think the best bet is a repeat winner, Hunter-Reay, maybe, Franchitti, very possible, but the guy I will go out on a limb for, the driver I think will hoist the trophy at the end of the year, The personable

Tony Kanaan (photo: Chuck Green/Cg Photography)

Brazilian with the broad smile, Tony Kanaan.


2013 looks to be a very exciting year for Indy Car, the changes designed to make the Indy Car experience more enjoyable for the fans, and the fact that this will be the second year for the DW-12 Dallara, should make the racing even closer, and more competitive than ever. When Indy Car comes to a city near you, don’t hesitate to make plans to attend the event, you will be happy you did.


The season opening Grand Prix of Saint Petersburg is scheduled for March 22nd through March 24Th. Tickets are available at www.gpstpete.com

Marco Andretti (photo: Chuck Green/Cg Photography)

Dario Franchitti (photo: Chuck Green/Cg Photography)

Helio Castroneves (photo: Chuck Green/Cg Photography)

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