Following a compelling qualifying session that saw Will Power take the pole, Takuma Sato and Simona de Silvestro claim second and third on the grid, and rookie Tristan Vautier crack the Firestone Fast Six, we're set for racing today at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Noon ET, NBC Sports Network).
Power's fourth consecutive pole was no surprise whatsoever, but Sato, De Silvestro and Vautier went above and beyond expectations on Saturday. But qualifying is one thing and racing is another; we'll see if the latter three can capitalize and convert their strong starts to proper results.
De Silvestro will no doubt be the fans' choice this afternoon. The Swiss Missile went through a grueling 2012 thanks to the underpowered Lotus engine, but with a brand new team (KV Racing Technology) and a brand new Chevrolet engine, expect her to be much more competitive this season. If she could land a podium this afternoon, everyone involved would likely be over the moon.
Meanwhile, there are multiple big names in mid-pack and at the rear that will have to make their way up the grid. Among them: Dario Franchitti (10th), Justin Wilson (13th), Simon Pagenaud (19th), Scott Dixon (20th) and Sebastien Bourdais (21st).
Most of those I just listed are powered by Honda, which has been unable to completely match the pace of the Chevrolets up to this point; however, in this morning's warmup, the Honda camp landed eight of the top 10 positions (Ryan Hunter-Reay, a Chevy driver, led the way) so perhaps they'll have their act together for the main event. Still, the big boys will have to fight through the field and that should make for great action.
But no matter what engine you run, everything gets leveled if rain plays a role in today's race. Forecasts call for at least a 30% chance of rain in the Tampa/St. Pete region during race time, and that would change everything.
IZOD IndyCar Series – Honda GP of St. Petersburg
12-Will Power (Alternate)
14-Takuma Sato (Alternate)
78-Simona de Silvestro (Alternate)
27-James Hinchcliffe (Alternate)
3-Helio Castroneves (Alternate)
55-Tristan Vautier (Alternate)
25-Marco Andretti (Primary)
1-Ryan Hunter-Reay (Primary)
6-Sebastian Saavedra (Alternate)
10-Dario Franchitti (Alternate)
11-Tony Kanaan (Alternate)
22-Oriol Servia (Primary)
19-Justin Wilson (Alternate)
83-Charlie Kimball (Primary)
15-Graham Rahal (Primary)
67-Josef Newgarden (Alternate)
98-Alex Tagliani (Alternate)
16-James Jakes (Primary)
77-Simon Pagenaud (Alternate)
9-Scott Dixon (Primary)
7-Sebastien Bourdais (Primary)
5-EJ Viso (Primary)
20-Ed Carpenter (Alternate)
4-JR Hildebrand (Alternate)
18-Ana Beatriz (Alternate)