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Disappointed drivers reset for a Monday start

Scott Dixon was the fastest in IndyCar morning practice with a lap of 102.965 mph.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Scott Dixon was the fastest in IndyCar morning practice with a lap of 102.965 mph.

ST. PETERSBURG — Will Power had hoped to be in his No. 12 Team Penske IndyCar late Sunday afternoon, capitalizing on the pole position and capping off a stellar weekend with a win in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Instead, Power was lounging in the team bus, watching a replay of the 2009 Indianapolis 500 victory by his teammate, Helio Castroneves, to pass the time.

That's one way to spend a rare race postponement.

"You spend the whole day getting prepared mentally for this race and then it's all off," he said shortly after officials announced that severe weather and water-logged streets forced them to move the 100-lap event to 10 a.m. today. "Right now, I'm quite relaxed, but it's funny coming back Monday to have a race; Sunday seems like such a perfect time to race. I can't remember the last time that happened."

The last time an IndyCar race was postponed a day was in April 2008 at Motegi, Japan (pushed from Saturday to Sunday) and that race ended on a historic note — Danica Patrick became the first female driver to win a major closed-course race.

"It's unfortunate for the fans that the race was postponed, but I think they made the right decision," Patrick said. "One benefit with us racing (today) is it's going to give me and my engineers some more time to work on fine-tuning the race strategy."

She had qualified 21st in the 24-car field.

"Honestly, I don't think you'd call what was happening just rain," said Tony Kanaan of Andretti Autosport, who qualified No. 2. "It was dangerous. … It is a shame. We did everything we could. The whole city of St. Pete, everybody, IndyCar. The only thing we can't control is the weather, so we'll do it (today)."

Though drivers admit the new start time is odd — "a little weird," Power called it — their internal clocks shouldn't really affected.

"We were on the track (Sunday) at 9 o'clock or 9:30, so it's not a big deal," said Ryan Hunter-Reay, a teammate of Kanaan and Patrick who qualified seventh, just behind his other teammate, Marco Andretti.

He, like all the teams, continued to monitor the weather, which might make for some interesting racing if it's still raining. Hunter-Reay said visibility can be "horrible" since spray kicks up into a driver's face with no fender to deflect some of it.

"I've been on starts where you can't see the front of the car and everybody's just going flat out," he said. "It's a whole new level of danger, but we'll get through it all right."

His biggest concern, echoing that of the other drivers and race officials, is what the postponement means to the fans.

"Hopefully we'll have the fans come back out," he said. "That's what it's about, giving these fans a good show. … Rain cancellations, delays, are never good for racing. They're never good for the audience. But it is what it is."

NOTE: Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. Central Command, will give the order for drivers to start their engines as planned. Jon Secada is still set to sing the national anthem.

Brian Landman can be reached at landman@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3347.

Disappointed drivers reset for a Monday start 03/28/10 [Last modified: Sunday, March 28, 2010 9:16pm]
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