Junior Open Wheel Talent

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Newgarden, Daly lead field at St. Pete

by Ryan Stringfield
Posted April 9, 2011 at 11:07 am Indy Lights

Josef Newgarden celebrates his inaugural Indy Lights victory on the Streets of St. Petersburg.
(Photo Dana Garrett/IndyCar.com)

Sam Schmidt could have been happier Sunday, but not much.

Three of his drivers qualified 1-2-3 and for most of the race it appeared that they would fill all steps of the Indy Lights podium during the opening Indy Lights race at St. Petersburg, Fla.

In the end, it didn’t work out that way. But, Sam Schmidt and his team still have plenty to celebrate as American drivers — and SSM teammates — Josef Newgarden and Conor Daly held off the competition, claiming the top-two spots on the podium.

The race was extra special for Josef Newgarden as he became just the ninth driver in Series’ history to win in his debut. Daly, who won the 2010 Star Mazda Championship, was pretty ecstatic, too. But he wasn’t able to celebrate long as he was quickly whisked away to a plane — first to Philadelphia and then on to London — needing to get back to Europe for the upcoming GP3 season. Daly will be balancing a GP3 schedule with Carlin and the Indy Lights road course events with SSM in 2011.

Also celebrating a big day on Sunday was Peter Dempsey. The talented Irishman finished third in his Indy Lights debut driving the No. 36 O2 Racing Technology car, making it an all-rookie podium. Dempsey led the first 11 laps after a great start on the opening lap.

Jensen Motorsports’ David Ostella proved his extensive testing program is working by driving from 11th to 4th in Sunday’s race. Norway’s Anders Krohn, who set the pace early in the weekend, managed a fifth-place result after starting 7th.

Esteban Guerrieri put his SSM car on pole in qualifying and ran up front for most of Sunday’s race before making a slight error by missing his braking point in the closing laps. In the end he battled back to finish sixth.

Mikael Grenier put in a solid drive for O2 Racing Technology concluding Sunday’s race seventh after starting in 16th. Watch for big things from Grenier if he’s able to continue this season.

Full results posted after the jump…

Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
Firestone Indy Lights
Round One

  1. Josef Newgarden
  2. Conor Daly
  3. Peter Dempsey
  4. David Ostella
  5. Anders Krohn
  6. Esteban Guerrieri
  7. Mikael Grenier
  8. Duarte Ferreira
  9. Victor Carbone
  10. James Winslow
  11. Jorge Goncalvez
  12. Juan Pablo Garcia
  13. Joel Miller
  14. Gustavo Yacaman
  15. Victor Garcia
  16. Stefan Wilson
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