ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – A weather system that moved across the Gulf of Mexico and quickly dumped more than an inch of rain and spawned lightning forced postponement of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg to 10 a.m. (ET) March 29.
The 100-lap race will be broadcast on ESPN2 and ESPN360, available on Sirius XM channels 145 and 211 and be streamed on indycar.com. Grandstand tickets will be honored and the general public is invited to attend free of charge. Gates open at 9 a.m.
“We thank the fans for their support and want them to come out (March 29),” said Kevin Savoree, managing director of Green Savoree Promotions. “We thought the best way to thank them was to open the gates to the general public and get a taste of the IndyCar race.”
The last time an IZOD IndyCar Series race was postponed to another day was in September 2008 at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan (Danica Patrick won on the 1.5-mile oval).
The IZOD IndyCar Series race was scheduled for a 3:45 p.m. green flag, with officials from the Indy Racing League, broadcast partner ABC, the race promoters and the city convening throughout the afternoon to determine the best course of action for the safety of spectators and race participants. Spectators were encouraged to move to shelter areas inside the race course as the storm passed.
St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster said crews would work through the night to drain standing water on the racing surface and infield areas.
“While our cars are equipped to run in the rain, we certainly think the safety of our competitors, our teams, event workers and fans is paramount,” said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and racing operations for the sanctioning Indy Racing League.
Drivers participated in a 30-minute warm-up session on a dry racetrack in the morning, while the early afternoon Firestone Indy Lights race was impacted by rain (shortened from 45 to 35 laps). Participants and spectators had enjoyed spectacular weather the two previous days of on-track activity.
“I think it was a good decision to postpone the race for the safety of the fans and the teams," said Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing driver Hideki Mutoh, who will start 12th on the 24-car grid. "If we were to go out and try to race maybe there would only be one car that would finish. The fans deserve to see a good race so I hope the ones that were here are able to come back."
Will Power, who set a circuit record of 1 minute, 1.4816 seconds in the second round of qualifications on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn course, will start from the pole. He will be joined on the front row by Tony Kanaan in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven car for Andretti Autosport. Power won the season opener on the temporary street course March 14 in Brazil.
“The only disappointment for us is that we didn’t get to put on a show for the fans that were here," Kanaan said. "But it was nobody’s fault. It was Mother Nature. We had to think about fan safety and it was just too dangerous with the lightning to have fans sitting in the stands. Hopefully, we’ll see some of them back here (March 29) and then again next year when we race – on a Sunday.”
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