Defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet) led the 11-car Chevrolet 2.2 liter twin turbocharged direct injected V6 contingent in today’s opening race for the Verizon IndyCar Series with a seventh place finish.
It was a wild race that saw 11 caution flags for a total of 25 of the 110-lap Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit. On the first lap, Team Chevy contenders Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) and Tony Kanaan (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet) were caught up in incidents that sent them to pit lane for repairs. The two veteran drivers fought hard and recovered to finish 10thand 11th respectively.
The race finished under a yellow flag as the leaders collided coming to the white flag. St. Petersburg resident Sebastien Bourdais (Honda) won the race for the second consecutive year.
Other Team Chevy drivers finished as follows:
Simon Pagenaud, No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet –13th
Gabby Chaves, No 88 Harding Group Harding Racing Chevrolet – 14th
Spencer Pigot, No. 21 AutoGeek Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet-15th
Max Chilton, No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet-19th
Charlie Kimball, No. 23 Tresiba Carlin Chevrolet-20th
Jordan King, No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet-21st
Rene Binder, No. 32 No. 32 Binderholt Tiptop Timber Juncos Racing Chevrolet-22nd
Matheus Leist,.No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet-24th
Next on the Team Chevy schedule in the Verizon IndyCar Series is at ISM Raceway, Phoenix, Arizona on April 7, 2018.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN, NO. 1 HITACHI TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FINISHED 7TH:: “It was a messy P7 but for us it was a good top 10. It’s a decent start to the year. We had a great Chevy package – it’s just sad we couldn’t take better advantage of it. I felt we had really good power today from Chevrolet. The Hitachi car, overall, was pretty strong. We were just fighting all day to catch back up and we were on the wrong end on the fuel mileage and getting run into and cutting the tire didn’t help us. But I think if a couple of things would’ve gone differently, I really think a podium finish was in the cards for today.”
WILL POWER, No. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FINISHED 10TH: “It was pretty wild at times. It was actually good racing at times, and you can get close to people. It is a good car to race. I was on the back foot from the very beginning. (Robert) Wickens and I touched in turn one and I spun around. There wasn’t a lot of room. That set us back and we fought the rest of the day. The field is just very, very competitive. There are good cars all through the field with many teams. But you can race close to people. You don’t get a draft, but you can almost get right behind them. They did a good job of making the kit with almost zero tow so makes the racing better I think. Not a perfect day, but we have a good Verizon Chevrolet team, and we will come back ready to race at Phoenix.”
TONY KANAAN, NO. 14 ABC SUPPLY TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FINISHED 11TH: “Eventful day. I got hit in the beginning—that wasn’t good but we came from the back and passed a lot of cars. We had a clean day in the pits which I asked the guys for that. The goal was a top-10 and we finished 11th, so came up a little bit short but we’ll take it. We’ll go from there. ”
SIMON PAGENAUD, NO.22 MENARDS TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FINISHED 13TH: “It was a hard fought day. We had a tire gun problem on the first stop and I feel bad for the Menards crew. That’s a tough thing to happen and they did such a good job on the next two stops. Unfortunately that put us back in the pack and we just couldn’t make up ground from there. I expected more tire degradation and that might have created some opportunities but that never happened. It’s definitely not the start to the season that we wanted but we know the Menards Chevrolet is good and we know we will bounce back strong.”
GABBY CHAVES, NO. 88 HARDING GROUP HARDING RACING CHEVROLET, FINISHED 14TH: “Long day at the race track. It was a long hard race, but I’m really happy and proud of the Harding Racing guys. We had very good progression throughout the weekend and ended up very competitive from where we started. I thought we had a car to run in the top six or eight all day. Unfortunately we had an issue with our fuel hose in the first pitstop that set us back. After that we just settled in and tried to have our own race, I thought we had decent pace and I’m very happy with finishing 14th. I’m very much looking forward to the next race.”
SPENCER PIGOT, NO. 21 AUTOGEEK ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET, FINISHED 15TH: “It was a pretty wild race out there. It was very tricky at the beginning going into Turn 1, trying to pass people on the paint. Early on, we were hit from behind and stalled. From there, we just had to try and battle back. We had a really good restart in the middle of the race and passed a lot of cars, then unfortunately we had another issue in the pits and couldn’t get any fuel into the car. We had to make a few unscheduled pit stops to make up for that and went a lap down, putting an end to our competitiveness. We had good pace and a good chance of finishing up towards the front. It was great to have the support of Autogeek this weekend and I appreciate the all of the hard work put in by my guys!”
MAX CHILTON, NO. 59 GALLAGHER CARLIN CHEVROLET, FINISHED 19TH: “We just finished our first race ever for the Carlin INDYCAR team. The No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet started 20th, but we finished 19th so we moved forward one position. It was a long hard race. I think it was around two hours and 20 minutes and there were probably six or seven yellow sessions, so it was really hard to keep our tires up to temperature which was something we were struggling with all day. When the tires were in, we had good performance so we made gains throughout the weekend. Considering this was Carlin’s first INDYCAR race, I’d say it wasn’t a bad showing at all. We definitely have work to do and we aren’t where we want to be yet. I think all-around we did a good job and we’ll make sure we’re ready for Phoenix.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL, NO. 23 TRESIBA CARLIN CHEVROLET, FINISHED 20TH: l – “Honestly it was a disappointing day results-wise. At Carlin, you don’t come to the track to finish 19th and 20th, our goal really is to be fighting for race wins and podiums. We came into this weekend with limited knowledge and experience in the series, but I’d say we probably doubled or even tripled our knowledge on the Indy cars here in St. Pete. I’m looking forward to going back and getting with the engineers, learning, digesting, and figuring out what we need to do in the future. We’ve got a couple of tests before the Phoenix race and we tested there a few weeks back, so I know that we’ll be more competitive at the next race and continue to work our way forward.”
JORDAN KING, NO. 20 FUZZY’S VODKA ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET, FINISHED 21ST:“On the positive, I led my first Indy car race. It is nice to be able to say that! I am reserved, so I didn’t actually do it, but I did have a little bit of a mental fist pump in my mind when we took the lead. The speed was really good during the race, we genuinely had the pace to challenge for the race win. After the first stop, we picked up a puncture and slid against the wall and had some damage. It was frustrating more than anything to be hindered by that. Overall, I am happy from the sense that the speed is there, but disappointed to throw away a result. I know not every weekend is going to be like this, but it was great to be fast and challenging for the race win. It just hurts a bit when you throw away a good result like that!”
RENE BINDEER, NO. 32 BINDERHOLT TIPTOP TIMBER JUNCOS RACING CHEVROLET, FINISHED 22ND: “It was my first Verizon IndyCar Series race and I found it quite tough, but I am pleased with the progress we have made. In the beginning of the race there were several safety cars and dust, which made it more difficult. Unfortunately, I did not finish the race, but came close. We are still analyzing our data to improve. Overall, I learned a lot and I want to thank Binderholz, Chevrolet, Ricardo Juncos, and the entire Juncos Team”.
MATTEUS LEIST, NO. 4 ABC SUPPLY AJ FOYT RACING CHEVROLET, FINISHED 24TH: “This was a pretty good weekend till now. Pretty happy with the performance we had—we were fast in all of the sessions. Today it was unfortunate we had a shifting problem when I was running fourth so I couldn’t change gears up or down. I stayed in pit lane for like 10 laps trying to solve the problem. [They went back out on track] Then we had another problem and came back to the pits. The third time I went back on the track, I had a mega understeer going into Turn 3 and I missed the corner and hit the wall. Happy for the performance—we had a fast car. I think it was my fault when I hit the wall that time. The car was good. It happens, so we’ll go to the next one.”
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