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St. Petersburg considered for IndyCar doubleheader but not chosen

ST. PETERSBURG — Next season's IndyCar schedule, released in September, is introducing doubleheaders at three street circuits.

The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg isn't a doubleheader site, but the concept was floated.

"We had conversations about whether St. Pete made sense," Grand Prix Vice President Tim Ramsberger said. "We talked about it briefly but I think being the first race of the season it presents challenges that (the conclusion was) maybe it was too much for us as a promoter, too much for IndyCar to bite off for a first race, or first street race at least."

The street race in Toronto, which like St. Petersburg is under Green Savoree Racing Promotions, is one of the doubleheader sites along with Detroit and Houston.

Driver Simona de Silvestro, visiting St. Petersburg to promote the race — tickets go on sale Dec. 1 — talked about the challenges of doing two physically demanding races in one weekend, especially on street courses which are bumpy and tight.

"As a racer I think it's cool to get two races on a weekend," said de Silvestro, who has joined KV Racing and will team with Tony Kanaan. "As a driver, and even for the mechanics and everybody, to put two races in one weekend is a lot of work. For me, after every race you're pretty tired. To do two full-length races, it's going to be challenging. Also, from the fans' perspective, are they going to come twice to see two races?"

De Silvestro's best career IndyCar finish was fourth in St. Petersburg in 2011 and her nine best series finishes, including all five of her top-10 runs, have been on road and street courses.

"I think it makes sense to do doubleheaders on the street courses more than on an oval," she said. "But I don't think it's an advantage (for me). If you want to win the championship in IndyCar you have to be good on anything. And it showed last year, Ryan (Hunter-Reay) did an incredible job on the road courses and on the ovals and he won the championship."

Ramsberger also said the drifting cars will return for the 2013 race weekend, which is March 22-24.