Here’s what many of the drivers who competed in Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg had to say about the first race of 2022:
Scott McLaughlin - No. 3 DEX Imaging Chevrolet - WINNER: “This is unbelievable. Thank you to Roger Penske and everyone who put their faith in me. … (And) DEX Energy for jumping on board and trusting me, and Roger Penske and Tim Cindric giving me the opportunity to come here. I miss my mom and dad dearly and my family. It was crazy. I really struggled those last couple laps to keep my head to save fuel and all that stuff. We did it. Chevy gave us the fuel mileage. The drivability this weekend has been a big change. To win DEX Imaging’s home race is unreal. I love you, Australia and New Zealand. I miss you guys and thinking of all you guys in the Queensland with all the floods at the moment. I just can’t believe this!”
Alex Palou - No. 10 NTT Data Honda - Finished second: “It was close. I was really, really close, but I don't think we had the pace (McLaughlin) had today. Like he was on rails, and he knew where to go fast and where to obviously save some fuel at the end. I was just there trying to make some pressure so hopefully he made a mistake or anything, but no, he was all good. Congrats to him. I'm super happy that he got his first win. Yeah, I'm happier that we got our first podium of the year.”
Will Power - No. 12 Verizon 5G Chevrolet - Finished third: “Yeah it (the early yellow) really hurt us badly. We were banking on being able to go long in that first stint and then pretty sure we would’ve got to the lead just because the reds drop so much. Then tried to short pit that middle stint but unfortunately we got the yellow. And I just was really trying to make the reds last. I was really happy with third. I think the Verizon Chevy crew did a phenomenal job with strategy to get us out of that situation and just a good solid day.”
Colton Herta - No. 26 Gainbridge Honda - Finished fourth:
Rinus VeeKay - No. 21 Sonax Chevrolet - Finished sixth: "I'm pretty happy with the result - P6. I really struggled on the reds where the balance went the exact opposite way as what we thought. I was a little surprised but we made the best out of a bad situation. We saved a lot of fuel so good for the environment! It's a good start to the season. I'm ready for Texas. It's good to be back in the top-10 and back on the pace we showed last year.”
Takuma Sato - No. 51 Nurtec ODC Honda - Finished 10th: “A top 10 finish for my first race with Dale Coyne Racing with RWR. The boys did a fantastic job. We had a difficult weekend to start with and qualifying wasn’t ideal. We were starting near the back of the grid and we gradually moved up. We had a fun start and made a couple of places up and had a solid performance in every stint. Normally a lot of things happen in St. Petersburg but it didn’t this year. We had the biggest mover of the race so that was fantastic. It was a great effort from the team. I’m really looking forward to the next race in Texas. This weekend went really well and I’m settling in well with the team."
Christian Lundhgaard - No. 30 Shield Cleaners Honda - Finished 11th:
Pato O’Ward - No. 5 McLaren Chevrolet - Finished 12th: "We finished 12th today at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. We had a great start, going from 16th to ninth on the first lap. From there, I was like ‘Oh yes, let’s get a great race in,’ but we didn’t really nail the strategy. We weren’t on the right strategy with the three-stop and got stuck back in 12th. We will give it hell in Texas."
Jack Harvey - No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda - Finished 13th:
Helio Castroneves - No. 06 Autonation/Sirius XM Honda - Finished 14th: “I have to give big props to Meyer Shank Racing and especially Adam (Rovazzini - MSR Competition Director). The goal was to put some points on the board and that’s exactly what we did. Obviously 14th is not where we wanted to be, however some days that’s what you get as a result. We are going to take what we learned here and use it for Long Beach - but first we have Texas and that’s where we need to collect a lot of points.”
Simon Pagenaud - No. 60 Autonation/Sirius XM Honda - Finished 15th: “Overall I think we had a lot of performance this weekend, a lot of pace over one lap. Personally, I’m disappointed with my start and dropped back a few spots. And then we opted for three stops and defended to (Josef) Newgarden and the two stop strategy actually worked better. I think it was great to get my first race in the books. There’s a lot to learn from it and a lot of potential which I’m excited about.”
Josef Newgarden - No. 2 Hitachi Chevrolet - Finished 16th: "It was a tough weekend on the No. 2 car. It just didn't pan out our way. We tried a different strategy than most, and it didn't seem like the racing gods were shining on us this weekend. There are a lot of positives. We have a lot of new people on the 2 car and I felt like everyone worked super-well together. We've learned some things to start this year off, so our goal is to continue to build on this first weekend of the year and get better throughout. I can't wait for the next one at Texas.”
Felix Rosenqvist - No. 7 Vuse Chevrolet - Finished 17th: "The first race of the season is complete in St. Petersburg. We ended 17th and really couldn’t move up in the field. The way our strategy turned out is pretty much where we started the race. That’s what happens when you start in the back, you don’t really go anywhere unless you luck out with the strategy; which we didn’t have today. I thought the pace was pretty good, the best it was all weekend; but we couldn’t take advantage of it. Now, we will reload for Texas."
Kyle Kirkwood - No. 14 Rokit Chevrolet - Finished 18th: "I'm super happy with the outcome of everything. I think this weekend there's a lot of new moving parts going on along with myself, and everyone executed. Yeah, we were on the wrong strategy and we got hosed by a caution but that's part of racing. We showed this entire weekend that we have pace and we showed pace in the race with the ROKiT Chevrolet. We ran right there with veteran drivers like Newgarden and Pagenaud. I was super happy with that. I was thrilled I kind of ran Newgarden down at one point so couldn’t ask for anything better than that to be honest for my first ever race. It's just unfortunate we were on the wrong strategy but we were on the right strategy until the caution came out."
Callum Ilott - No. 77 Dynamic Edge Chevrolet - Finished 19th: "What a race. It went from really struggling on the reds to boxing a little early and getting it right with the full-course yellow and coming out in 12th. A lot of guys in front me ended up having to pit a bit earlier. I was hanging in P2 and the pace was really, really good. I think I was even catching Rinus (VeeKay). I think we boxed maybe two laps early and I caught a pack I couldn't make it through. I was on the reds. The pace was good but there was nowhere to go. With about 30 laps to go, my hands starting to fall apart and it was quite difficult to turn. It was an experience. I think we had good pace, especially on the blacks. What a race. We ran in the top-three for almost 30 laps, so that was mega.”
Conor Daly - No. 20 Bitnile Chevrolet - Finished 21st: “We didn’t get the result we wanted, but honestly we had some of our best race pace we’ve had recently. We set the fastest lap of the race, so that’s a huge positive for our program. Strategy didn’t quite go our way today and we also need to qualify better. Overall, we had a lot of positives today that our result doesn’t show.”
Devlin DeFrancesco - No. 29 Powertap Hydrogen Honda - Finished 22nd:
Jimmie Johnson - No. 48 Carvanna Honda - Finished 23rd:
Tatiana Calderon - No. 11 Rokit Chevrolet - Finished 24th: "It was the toughest race physically of my career. Obviously a hundred laps with only one caution was quite hard but i think we managed to get a feeling for both tire compounds. I did a few mistakes running out of road and a few things but sometimes you have to learn the hard way but i was happy to cross the line to get a bit more information a bit more fitness for what's coming next and to know where I need to improve as well and where can maybe help with the balance of the cars so I'm quite happy with all that information and hopefully we can come back to Long Beach and push harder."
Dalton Kellett - No. 4 K-Line Chevrolet - Finished 25th: "It wasn't the finish we were really looking for. We had really high hopes and expectations after our best qualifying in IndyCar so far, so I have to commend the No. 4 team for that performance. That was a great day and I was really happy with how that want. Obviously we wanted more in the race but we suffered a mechanical issue. We'll figure out what happened, diagnose that and make sure it doesn't happen again. It's part of the process and part of learning how to do this better every weekend. That's all we can ask for. We have to keep improving, take the positives from this weekend and go into Texas.”
David Malukas - No. 18 HMD Motorsports Honda - Finished 26th: “It’s really unfortunate. We ran clean all race weekend up to this point. If we were to crash this weekend I would have preferred that it happen in the first practice but that wasn’t the case. Before that we were trying to make the red tires last during my first stint. It was my first time running on red tires so long, so I learned a lot there. We tried to stretch our pit window but came up a bit short on that first stint. We then went to the black Firestone tires after my first stop. A few laps later, I was going into Turn 3 and I had a bit of a moment, it was only a split second but it took me offline and as soon as that front left hit the marbles that took me straight to the wall. It’s unfortunate. I did not want it to end that way. Our seasons always seem to start with a bang, but then go in the right direction so hopefully this one is no different.”