Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Extra laps change Grand Prix strategy

Josef Newgarden will see his pit crew three times today. (Some drivers made only two stops last year.) But how much fuel his car gets will depend on the situation.


Josef Newgarden will see his pit crew three times today. (Some drivers made only two stops last year.) But how much fuel his car gets will depend on the situation.

ST. PETERSBURG — Today's forecast for the beginning of the IndyCar Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg calls for a 20 percent chance of rain. But even if rain doesn't slow the cars, the race will still take longer than usual.

This year's race is 110 laps around the 1.8-mile downtown street circuit, 10 more than the past eight IndyCar races here.

And that resets pit strategy for everyone.

"It's going to be a three-stop race. You just don't know how much fuel you're going to put in for each of those three stops," Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull said Saturday. "But at some point, you're going to put in less than a full tank of fuel. There were four or five people last year that did this race in two stops."

Tires will be another variable. Each team gets six sets of regular-compound slick tires with black sidewalls and three sets with softer compounds and red sidewalls. Cars must use one set of new, soft tires — called "sticker reds" for the stickers on them — and one set of harder "blacks" each for at least two green-flag laps. If it rains, teams use grooved tires and the red/black rule is waived.

"We've had a fair amount of rain here in the past to deal with, and it changes things dramatically," said Dennis Reinbold, co-owner of the Panther DRR team and race strategist for driver Oriol Servia.

"As the track dries, your strategy changes completely because the tires start tearing apart. Then you have to use the reds, use the blacks."

Timing is key, too. Hull said teams can take less fuel — called a short fill — early. However, "You might jump four or five guys, but that's not the part of the race you want to jump them. You want to jump them at the end.

"A lot of people from the outside see multiple switches in the cockpit and (think drivers) just turn it to a certain point and that's going to get you X amount of mileage. It only gets you 70 percent there. The other 30 percent is what your driver does to help you; short-shifting, where he lifts (off the gas), how he lifts."

Whatever the mechanical components, fans will see a racier result, Reinbold says.

"For the fans, it's not much fun to see us try to save our way to a victory as opposed to really going for it," he said. "So this way, we'll be able to run full tilt all the time, and that's really what racing is about."

Extra laps change Grand Prix strategy 03/23/13 [Last modified: Saturday, March 23, 2013 8:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. Thursday, New York

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Yankees

    7:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, July 22, 2017.
  2. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    It is going to get interesting tonight when the Rays begin a four-game series against the Yankees in New York. The Rays feel they are good enough to win the East Division. These next four games and the four that follow in Houston will be a good measuring stick.

  3. Jones: Alex Cobb proves again why he's Rays' stopper, no matter how long he's here

    The Heater


    If a team hopes to hang around the pennant race, they better have an ace. A stopper. A pitcher they can count on every fifth day to stop the bleeding, keep a winning streak going or flat-out win a game that a team flat-out needs to win.

    Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) throwing the first inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. Twice the talent: IMG football expands to two teams this fall


    BRADENTON — When IMG Academy fielded its first varsity football team in 2013, there were 51 players on the roster. Since then, the roster has nearly tripled. With no junior varsity it was difficult for some to find playing time, and players do not come to IMG to sit the bench.

    The solution? Start another …

    DL Tre’von Riggins 
(6-4, 240) is a  Lakewood transfer.
  5. Rays power way to 5-1 win over Orioles on eve of crucial road trip

    The Heater

    St. PETERSBURG — The Rays didn't get many hits in the early going Wednesday, but they got a couple that went a long way and that was enough to beat the Orioles, 5-1.

    Rays right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) hugs catcher Jesus Sucre (45) after Souza's solo home run in the seventh inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]