2022 IndyCar Recap: Firestone GP of St. Petersburg

IndyCar St. Petersburg Scott MacLaughlin

This year’s IndyCar season kicked off with the return to St. Petersburg, which returned to the season-opening race for the first time since 2019. With a packed crowd in attendance, the stars of IndyCar looked to start 2022 on the right foot, with nearly a month between St. Petersburg and Texas. Additionally, six rookies, including Kyle Kirkwood and Tatiana Calderón, were making their debuts in the series on Sunday as well.

Be sure to keep up with all of our IndyCar coverage.

Starting off Strong

Scott McLaughlin of Team Penske started off his weekend in perfect fashion. The second-year driver out of New Zealand picked up his first career pole in IndyCar with a monster lap, beating teammate Will Power for the top spot on the board. Last season, McLaughlin only qualified inside the top 10 twice for the entire year, and now he grabs a street course pole to begin 2022. Impressive stuff.

IndyCar Growing Pains

Of the six rookies in this year’s field, the highest runner was Christian Lundgaard of RLL, finishing in 11th. Outside of him, it was a tough day for most of the rookies. Specifically Calderón, David Malukas, and Devlin DeFrancesco. DeFrancesco finished in 22nd as the last car on the lead lap. Calderón ended up finishing two laps three laps down in 24th. Finally, Malukas ended up being the first DNF of the day, crashing out just 26 laps in. He appeared to wheel hop in the marbles and tagged the wall pretty good, before making contact with the inside wall as well.

Unsuccessful Gamble

With just under 50 laps remaining, Rinus VeeKay’s team made the call to bring him in to set up an interesting strategy call. There was no way they would have made it to the finish without heavy fuel saving. However, the hope was that they could catch a caution to drag the bulk of the field down pit road with them, while VeeKay already had new tires and fuel. Not to mention that VeeKay still could have come in under said hypothetical caution to top off on fuel. Obviously, this did not pan out, but a bold call that still got them sixth place.

Scotty Mac Reigns Supreme in St. Petersburg

Near the end, the Firestone GP of St. Pete came down to McLaughlin and defending Series Champion Alex Palou, with Power waiting in the wings behind. McLaughlin ran into some heavy lap traffic, including Palou’s teammate Jimmie Johnson who didn’t make things easy. Even with some more lap traffic afterward, McLaughlin didn’t crack under the pressure and secured his first career IndyCar win. A big win for one of New Zealand’s all-time great motorsports athletes, who picks this up in career start No. 18. Now that the V8 Supercars icon has opened Pandora’s Box so to speak, this IndyCar field may have a problem on its hands now.

IndyCar Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Top 10

1st No. 3 Scott McLaughlin

2nd No. 10 Alex Palou

3rd No. 12 Will Power

4th No. 26 Colton Herta

5th No. 28 Romain Grosjean

6th No. 21 Rinus VeeKay

7th No. 15 Graham Rahal

8th No. 9 Scott Dixon

9th No. 8 Marcus Ericsson

10th No. 51 Takuma Sato

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images 

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