By Greg Bush
Car nuts, sports fans, and lovers of all things fast turned out en-masse in downtown St. Petersburg, in both rain and sunshine, from March 27-29 to watch as the Verizon Indycar series started up its 2015 season. Defending series champion Will Power was looking to repeat the success he had last year at St. Petersburg and was making a strong run for another win at this event.
One major talking point for this event was the debut of a new body kit for the Indycar racers. Designed to make the cars more aerodynamic and faster around the track, they proved their worth in qualifying on Saturday when Will Power was able to qualify on the pole position with a time of 1:00.651 seconds. The time was good enough to beat the original track record held since 2003.
On race day, following several caution periods due to on-track collisions, there were two drivers battling out for 1st: Will Power & Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified 4th on Saturday. Power was able to old the lead for 70+ laps with Montoya slowly gaining on him. After the last set of pit stops on lap 82, Montoya was able to take the lead. Power tried everything he could to get the lead back, including a daring overtake on the 101st lap that ended up slowing him down and damaging his vehicle. In the end, Montoya would come out on top with the win, much to the delight of his fans. Will Power finished 2nd by a 3-second margin. Tony Kannan was able to round out the podium in 3rd.
Along with the Indycar Series, several other race events came along, including races from the Pro Mazda Series, IndyCar Lights, Pirelli World Challenge, and Robby Gordon’s Stadium SuperTrucks.
Juan Pablo Montoya now leads the Championship with 51 points, Will Power right behind him with 44 points. If this race was any indication for the rest of the year, the Verizon Indycar Series can look forward to a close championship fight in 2015.