Last year’s IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay and runner-up Will Power will kick off the IndyCar Series season on Sunday, March 24th on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Both drivers are looking forward to the new season, and know the importance of getting off to a good start.
“There's 19 races this year and they all count,” said Power in a recent IndyCar teleconference. “You will have your good ones and bad ones, and I think it's important to start the season well. Start off on a positive, but it's not the end of a day if you have a bad one. But it's racing, just go there and have fun really.”
Hunter-Reay agrees. “The first race counts as much as the last one, and you're always looking for every last point when you come to the season finale so absolutely it's important. But like Will said, if you don't have a good result, you still have a little bit of time to get yourself out of the hole. You need to get off to a good start to get the team on the right track and get the momentum going and get the energy, the right energy, going to the team. No better race to do it than the first one.”
The championship battle between Hunter-Reay and Power came down to the final race of the season in 2012, and Hunter-Reay remembers what a struggle that weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California was.
“I remember thinking that the entire week when we were struggling with our car, we couldn't get a setup,” said Hunter-Reay. “And then during the race when Will and I were going at it, granted, we were going at it for like 15th or 16th (place). So I was just thinking, man, we've got to somehow transform this car if I am going to have any shot at making this interesting over the night. I lost the car on Friday in practice. It spun, hit the wall, and I don't even know why it happened. And same thing with Will. The front of the car grabbed the seam and the next thing you know you blink an eye and you're in the wall. It's just kind of the nature of the beast with the low downforce racing with these cars we've been doing. It's made it a lot of fun.”
In five previous races in St. Petersburg, Power has a worst finish of eighth, while earning a win in 2010. He also has won the last three poles at the 1.8-mile temporary street course. When asked, however, Power doesn’t have an answer on why he performs so well there. “I don't know,” said Power. “It's a street course and I just enjoy it really. There's nothing that I would say suits me more than any other track. I go there and I always have fun. That's the main thing. I couldn't even tell you why.”
The IZOD IndyCar Series Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg takes the green flag on Sunday at 12:40 p.m. ET – coverage will be on NBC Sports Network. Stay up-to-date with the series at www.indycar.com.
Quotes in this piece provided by IndyCar Media.
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