ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Two years ago, the focus of the TV broadcast late in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg was on Simona de Silvestro, who was attempting to chase down Tony Kanaan to claim her first IZOD IndyCar Series podium finish.
She finished fourth -- her best showing to date -- in the HVM Racing car, but gathered attention for the spirited run on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit after starting 17th.
In the season opener March 24, it was Kanaan pushing the No. 11 Hydroxycut KV Racing Technology-SH car over the final five laps in an effort to overtake de Silvestro and potentially claim a spot on the podium.
He finished fourth. She finished sixth as the No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy car faded on the final two laps of the 110-lap race on worn alternate Firestone tires. Still, it was a solid start for the drivers as new teammates and the team that last won an Indy car race in 2008 (Will Power).
"It's definitely a good start of the season for everyone at KV Racing, finishing fourth and sixth," said Kanaan, a newlywed. "My car was flawless while on track. The only problem we had during the race was that I couldn't shift into neutral during my last stop. That cost me three spots on track and made me work a bit more for this fourth-place finish.
"It's unfortunate that Simona couldn't hold off that third place. She was running strong up front until she had no more tires. She deserved the podium. I guess Marco (Andretti) had a newer set of Firestones than both Simona and I, so it was a matter of time for him to get by us."
De Silvestro started third -- her best showing to date -- in the start of her fourth IZOD IndyCar Series season.
“It’s been a good weekend for us," she said. "Unfortunately, we lost a few positions at the end there. I think we can be pretty happy with sixth. Now we know what we have to work on for the next race (April 7 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama). It was really cool to be up front all day with Will (Power), Hinch (James Hinchcliffe) and everybody.
"I think we can learn a lot from this weekend to have a better result at the next race. I really want to thank Chevy and my Nuclear Clean Air Energy sponsors for all their support. I’m really excited to get to Barber and see what we can do there.”