Junior Open Wheel Talent

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Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Recap

by Ryan Stringfield
Posted March 29, 2010 at 1:05 pm Indy Lights, Star Mazda, U.S. F2000 National Championship

The conclusion of today’s IndyCar race wrapped up a historical weekend in St. Petersburg, Florida.  For the first time, the USF2000 National Championship, Star Mazda Championship, Indy Lights Championship and the Indy Car Series all ran together (in separate events, of course) on the Streets of St. Petersburg as part of the IRL’s new development program; the ‘Road to Indy’.  Despite some bad weather and a few incidents the weekend was a huge success.

Rather than write a detailed race report on each series (which you can find just about anywhere), I figured I’d recap a few things using bullets.

USF2000 National Championship

  • Sage Karam dominated the weekend and won both races by a significant margin.  (Race 1 margin of victory- 13.970 seconds, Race 2 margin of victory- 16.732)  In doing so, he became the first 15-year-old driver to win both F2000 races in his debut.
  • His future teammate,15-year-old  Zach Veach, will have the opportunity to win his inaugural event at O’Reilly Raceway Park during the ‘Night Before the 500’ race.
  • The margin of victory was pretty big at St. Petersburg but I have a feeling the gap will be diminished significantly as the season wears on and teams become more familiar with the equipment.
  • It’s early but I have to take credit when I can (mainly because making predictions is nearly impossible in racing)… My picks for the USF2000 National Championship finished both races inside the top-five; including a 1-2-3 finish in Race 1.
  • Raphael Abbate and Ben Searcy, who both drive for Minnesota-based teams, earned the hard charger titles this weekend.  Abbate drove from 13th to 6th in Race 1 and Searcy drove from 12th to 5th in Race 2.  Great job by those two.
  • USF2000 National Championship Race Results: Race 1, Race 2.

Star Mazda Championship

  • Conor Daly put in a very solid drive earning his 2nd career Star Mazda victory after qualifying on pole.  He also won last year’s New Jersey Motorsports Park race-1 from pole position.  He currently leads the overall championship through two rounds.
  • Mikael Grenier put in the drive of the weekend by passing 15 cars in 33-laps.  He drove from 21st on the grid to finish the race 6th.  For those wondering, he was forced to start in the back after only logging two qualifying laps due to a crash by another competitor (which brought out a red flag).
  • I didn’t do quite as well with my Star Mazda picks (so far), but all three of my championship picks managed to finish inside the top-five at St. Pete.
  • Congrats to Caio Lara on earning his first career Star Mazda podium after suffering a big crash in qualifying.
  • Honorable mention should go to Star Mazda rookie Joao Victor Horto for finishing 2nd in Sunday’s race.  I expect some pretty big things from Horto this season.
  • Star Mazda Race Results

Indy Lights

  • This was an interesting race to say the least.
  • J.K. Vernay, as expected, was phenomenal in his North American debut.  In wet conditions he developed a near-30 second margin before a yellow flag came out and bunched up the field.  His restarts were great though and he went on to win the race by over 11 seconds.
  • The drive of the race came from Stefan Wilson who started 14th and finished 3rd.  He passed 11 cars in 35-laps.
  • In a somewhat familiar theme, Sebastian Saavedra set the fastest lap of the race but failed to finish due to contact with the wall.
  • Oh yeah, I can’t forget to give a shout-out to the St. Pete runoff areas.  They were put to very good use by the FIL drivers this weekend.
  • Veteran driver, but Indy Lights rookie, Jan Heylen put in a great drive (showcasing his maturity behind-the-wheel) to finish 2nd for Team E.
  • My picks for the overall championship finished 1st, 4th and 6th… not a bad start considering the conditions yesterday afternoon.
  • I should probably conclude this by giving a shout-out to rookie drivers as they claimed the top-3 spots in yesterday’s race.  Charlie Kimball had the best finish of the veteran drivers (4th).
  • So what wasn’t good during the Indy Lights race?  … Trying to watch the race on IndyCar.com with poor bandwidth, an iRacing commercial that delayed the feed during every (bandwidth induced) refresh and, of course, the severe weather that forced race fans to take shelter and delayed the IndyCar race.
  • Indy Lights’ Race Results


For those looking for a little more detail, please review my Twitter updates from the weekend.


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