Saturday, June 23, 2018
Sports

A bit more stability in IndyCar aero kits expected in 2016

ST. PETERSBURG — Much of the talk entering last season in the IndyCar series surrounded aero kits, the new bodywork that increased downforce but also increased the number of pieces that could break off in a collision.

That helped lead to five caution flags in last year's Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and St. Petersburg resident Brigitte Hoffstetter sued the race and the series after she was struck by a piece of debris that flew off a car, resulting in a depressed skull fracture.

This year aero kits are back with some tweaks. But 2016 figures to be more settled after teams have had a year of development.

"The cars will be a bit faster and I'm sure the lap records will be broken again," two-time St. Petersburg winner Will Power said Thursday. "I think Honda has caught up a lot. They had a lot of areas opened up for them so I'm sure they've capitalized on that."

Honda teams were allowed to alter their aero kits for road and street courses and short ovals. Late last year the series approved the alteration, citing Rule 9.3, which reads in part: "In the event that an aero kit is not competitive … IndyCar may permit, in its sole discretion, approved suppliers to implement modifications."

Power's Team Penske teammate, three-time St. Petersburg winner Helio Castroneves, said, "We have a little more knowledge. It's not completely new. However we (Chevrolets) have an update, mostly in the rear. So it's going to be another step."

Firestone extends: Firestone extended its title sponsorship of the St. Petersburg race through at least 2018.

"We entered into a multi-year agreement with a marquee event," said Lisa Boggs, director of Bridgestone Americas motorsports (Bridgestone owns Firestone). "It's a first-class event."

The series has dates set for the next three years — today through Sunday this year, March 10-12 in 2017 and March 9-11 in 2018, a boost to the race's stability. But Boggs said that wasn't a factor in Firestone extending its deal. The company's deal to supply tires to the series also runs until 2018.

Pointing things out: Scott Dixon won his fourth series title last year — or snatched it from Juan Montoya, depending on one's perspective.

Montoya won the opener in St. Petersburg and led the entire season, until the finale in Sonoma, Calif., which was worth double points (the Indianapolis 500, which Montoya also won, was worth double points as well).

Dixon entered Sonoma third in points, 47 points behind Montoya, but won the race and clinched the title on a tiebreaker when Montoya finished sixth.

"I feel that with the double points, it washes itself out," Dixon said. "Last year we lost the 33 points for qualifying on the pole at Indy (the series scrapped qualifying points after cars had to qualify in race trim for safety concerns). It is what it is, when you start a season you know what the rules are."

Tampa's Tan: The late Dan Wheldon and current driver Sebastien Bourdais are among the IndyCar competitors who have lived in St. Petersburg.

Don't be surprised if the Pro Mazda series' Weiron Tan becomes a long-term local resident, too. The Malaysia native moved to Tampa in the offseason to be close to the Palmetto-based Team Pelfrey. Tan is in an apartment and would eventually like to set up permanent roots here.

"I'm hoping so," said Tan, 21. "I do prefer the warm weather; that's probably one of the biggest reasons why. I can't stand the cold. I just hate it. I really hate it. I like going back for holidays, but to live there? I just can't."

Times staff writer Matt Baker contributed to this report.

Comments
Lightning takes Quebec LW Gabriel Fortier with second-round pick

Lightning takes Quebec LW Gabriel Fortier with second-round pick

The Lightning is on the board in the 2018 NHL draft, using their first pick — 59th overall in the second round — on Gabriel Fortier, an undersize left wing from Quebec."I spoke with them a couple of times, so I knew there was an interest,...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
For starters: Rays vs. Yankees, looking for two straight

For starters: Rays vs. Yankees, looking for two straight

After hanging on for a 2-1 last night over the MLB-best Yankees, the Rays are looking to make it two in a row today.And their lineup will have a different look, with INF Joey Wendle making his first career appearance,  majors or minors, in the o...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Besides the continual evolution of their intriguing pitching plan, the primary topics of conversation for the Rays over the next several weeks will be trades and prospects. And not mutually exclusively.Some sooner than others, the Rays are going to c...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Live blog: 2018 NHL entry draft

Live blog: 2018 NHL entry draft

The Lightning isn't scheduled to pick until the second round, but there's no telling how active they might be with trades, so you'll want to follow our live coverage throughout the NHL draft Friday (Round 1) and Saturday (Rounds 2-7) in Dallas.(funct...
Published: 06/23/18
Rodney Page’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

Rodney Page’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

1. SS Willy Adames had a nice night, and there appear to be many more in his future. He had two hits, an RBI and an inning-ending leaping catch on a line drive by Didi Gregorius in the fifth.2. DH C.J. Cron needs to shake things up. Take a different ...
Published: 06/22/18
Marc Anthony pays a visit to the Trop

Marc Anthony pays a visit to the Trop

By Allana BarefieldTimes Staff WriterST. PETERSBURG — Latin pop star Marc Anthony visited Tropicana Field on Friday to see his beloved Yankees play the Rays.Anthony spent nearly an hour on the field before the game as fans and players surrounde...
Published: 06/22/18
Rays journal: Daniel Robertson’s return crowds up infield

Rays journal: Daniel Robertson’s return crowds up infield

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays reinstated INF Daniel Robertson from the 10-day disabled list (left hamstring strain). To make room, RHP Austin Pruitt was sent to Triple-A Durham."It's out of my mind. I don't think about (the hamstring) when I'm bend...
Published: 06/22/18
Brady Singer, Gators eliminated by Arkansas at CWS

Brady Singer, Gators eliminated by Arkansas at CWS

Times wiresOMAHA, Neb.  —Defending champion Florida failed to win a third straight elimination game, losing to Arkansas 5-2 Friday night and departing the College World Series.The Gators (49-21) had to win to force a rematch. The Razorback...
Published: 06/22/18
Rays hang on for a 2-1 win over Yankees

Rays hang on for a 2-1 win over Yankees

ST. PETERSBURG – Many times this season the Rays' strategy of opening the game with a short reliever and using the bullpen to finish hasn't had much success.Friday wasn't one of those nights.A total of six pitchers held the Yankees and their va...
Published: 06/22/18

Sports on TV/radio for Saturday, June 23

TODAYArena FootballAlbany at Baltimore7:30 p.m.CBSSNAutosF1: French Grand Prix10 a.m.ESPN2Monster Energy Cup: Toyota/Save Mart 350 qualifying2:30 p.m.FS1IndyCar: Kohler Grand Prix qualifying6:30 p.m.NBCSNTrucks: Eaton 2008:30 p.m.FS1BaseballRangers a...
Published: 06/22/18