The 2023 IndyCar Season gets underway at St Peterburg this weekend, with the circuit being a 1.8-mile temporary road course located in Florida.
It was first used for IndyCar racing in the opening round of the 2003 CART Championship, with the inaugural win going to Paul Tracey.
The track then has continuously hosted IndyCar Racing since 2005, with the lap record being held by reigning Champion Will Power with a time of 59.3466s.
St Petersburg will be Kyle Kirkwood’s first weekend as an Andretti driver, and there is a lot of excitement about what he can achieve with the team.
Moreover, he is a massively exciting talent with junior titles in USF2000, USF Pro 2000, and Indy NXT, which puts him as the metaphorical leader in the new generation of drivers coming into IndyCar.
So, as we enter St Petersburg GP weekend, he already has some momentum rolling with him coming off the back of a competitive test that saw him in the top 3 in the times in every session.
Add the fact that he is coming into this season with a much more competitive car compared to the A.J. Foyt Enterprises car he was driving last year, which saw him finish 24th in the championship, he is looking to be in a good position.
So, this weekend’s St Petersburg GP will be where we start to see if Kyle Kirkwood is the real deal.
Speaking of people who are the real deal, Helio Castroneves is heading into his 22nd season of racing in IndyCar.
The Brazilian has the most wins at the St Petersburg Grand Prix with three, with two coming back-to-back in 2006 and 2007, but his last win there came in 2012.
This season could be Castroneves’s last though with him only signing a one-year deal, which will keep him at Meyer Shank Racing until the end of the season.
Furthermore, he really needs to show up this season after a poor 2022 season, which saw him finish a career-worst 18th in the championship, alongside the fact it was his first season without a podium.
St Petersburg is the place Castroneves needs to perform to ensure his IndyCar season gets off to a good start.
A person who comes into the season on a roll after a good test is Marcus Ericson, who was the fastest man at Thermal Club testing as he set a time of 1m:38.422s.
Ericson will really want to take a step up in the championship, after two consecutive sixth-place finishes.
It seems like Chip Ganassi Racing has a strong package, with Marcus Armstrong and Alex Palou being in the top 5 for the second session of day two, with Armstrong’s time being 1m:38.840.
The only issue is St Petersburg isn’t a track that Ericson is particularly strong at with his best result at the venue being a seventh-place finish.