INDY NXT by Firestone St. Petersburg

Event: Streets of St. Petersburg, 45 laps or 55 minutes

Track Specs: 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit

Tune In: Race – 9:50 a.m. ET Sunday, March 5 (Peacock, INDYCAR LIVE!, INDYCAR Radio Network); Qualifying – 1:35 p.m. Saturday, March 4, (INDYCAR LIVE!, INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius XM); Practice – 1:55 p.m. Friday, March 3 and 9 a.m. Saturday, March 4 (INDYCAR LIVE!)

Last Year’s Winner: Matthew Brabham (Andretti Autosport)

Last Year’s Pole Sitter: Hunter McElrea (Andretti Autosport)

Spotlight: The newest feature to this upcoming season is Firestone becoming the official partner and tire supplier of INDY NXT, along with the new series name. So, when the green flag drops down the section of runway at Albert Whitted Airport, it’ll mark the start of a new era and the latest challenge for both drivers and teams. It’ll be interesting to see who made the most of offseason testing and got acquainted with the rubber shoes that propel the four wheels of fury.

Another thing to keep an eye on is the deep lineup at HMD Motorsports. The team has nine drivers in the field, which means more data to pull from but also more competition within its walls. The team is so massive, in fact, that the plan is to have the debriefs split between two transporters. It will be interesting to see which drivers get on and which hold off from showing their hand, especially when everyone has aspirations of wins and championship glory. There are three returning drivers in the field that won races last year, and two are driving for HMD this season: Danial Frost and Christian Rasmussen. The other returning race winner is last year’s Rookie of the Year, Hunter McElrea, who drives for Andretti Autosport.

Notes & Nuggets: In the 27 INDY NXT races on the Streets of St. Petersburg, 13 have been won from pole, and on 11 of those occasions the pole sitter went flag-to-flag and led every lap of the race en route to victory. The front row has combined for 20 victories. Only three times in the event’s history has the pole sitter ever finished in last place, but each of those have happened in the past seven races (2022; 2019, Race 2; 2018, Race 1). The farthest back anyone has won from is seventh, which was courtesy of Felix Serralles in the opening race of the doubleheader in 2016.

Only seven times has the race winner in St. Petersburg gone on to win the championship that same season, with Kyle Kirkwood the most recent in 2021. The others to accomplish the feat are: Alex Lloyd (2007), Raphael Matos 2008), Jean-Karl Vernay (2010), Josef Newgarden (2011), Tristan Vautier (2012) and Pato O’Ward (2018).