The Verizon IndyCar Series will have 24 cars at the season opener this weekend.
The season starts in St. Petersburg, Florida, where the streets around the Mahaffy Theater and the Dali Museum invite the IndyCar series.
The defending Champion Josef Newgarden stays at Team Penske, and is the favourite to take the title again this year. However he can’t relax too much with his two teammates, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power, who without a doubt want to add another title to their CVs.
Scott Dixon at Chip Ganassi Racing will experience something that he hasn’t for the first time in many years. In Ed Jones, he will have an inexperienced teammate with just one season under his belt. So the information flow is expected to go more from car #9 (Dixon) towards #10 rather than the other way. That can turn out to be a disadvantage for Dixon, who has had drivers like Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan to share data with. But if there is a driver who can run a one-man army, that would be Scott Dixon.
The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has shown good pace at test sessions this year, and if Takuma Sato and Graham Rahal show up with their positive game face on, they can be contenders for the win too.
Sebastien Bourdais started the 2017 by winning in St. Petersburg, and if he and the Dale Coyne Racing team hit the perfect run again, they should be able to achieve the same start to 2018.
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has been through a lot of upgrades through the winter, where Robert Wickens is now the new teammate of James Hinchcliffe. Wickens isn’t the only rookie at SPM, with Leena Gade joining as race engineer for Hinchcliffe. The former Le Mans winning engineer is looking for new challenges in IndyCar, so she might be able to bring some fresh thinking to the team.
The Rookie field is very strong this year, where Wickens is joined by Matheus Leist (A. J. Foyt Enterprises), Zachary Claman De Melo (Dale Coyne Racing), Jordan King (Ed Carpenter Racing), Zach Veach (Andretti Autosport), Rene Binder (Juncos Racing) and Jack Harvey (Michael Shank Racing with Schmidt Peterson).
The race is run over 110 laps, with the finish line on one of the runways of the Albert Whitted Airport.
The drivers will have 150 seconds of Push-To-Pass, with a maximum duration of 15 seconds per deployment.
Will Power is the only current driver to win this race more than once. He was the guy on Pole Position for the 2017 race, but was beaten by Sebastien Bourdais in the race.
Each car will have 7 sets of the hard tire and 4 sets of the softer version, normally referred to as Blacks and Reds. The softer tires can be viewed by having a red stripe on the side walls, therefore having the name.
The race starts 12.40 pm local time, 17.40 CET.