By Patrick Stephan (@TSO_Patrick)
To finish up a busy Friday at St. Pete, we had the Andretti Autosport Indy Lights drivers come in to the media center. That was helpful, as it’s honestly been hard to even get out too much due to all the track activity we’ve had today. Tomorrow should be even crazier, but having a bunch of track activity is certainly a good thing!
The fans here continue to support this event. No, there are not 100k here, but there are plenty to make this feel like an ‘event’ and if you like nice weather and good racing – this needs to be on your list of races to attend.
Dalton Kellett was the first one up and he noted that this is actually his sixth time to come and race in St. Petersburg, having done 2 years at each of the levels on the Mazda Road to Indy. He said that experience is nice, especially with all the different track conditions they get here.
Newcomer Ryan Norman was glad to have gotten in some solid laps this morning, since he lost most of the second session (qualifying) after crashing.
Norman is the defending Formula Atlantic champion and was asked to compare that car to the IL-15 Indy Lights machine. He said that car trained him well, but it had a little more downforce and a little less power. So, with the Atlantic car he could carry a little more speed through the corners.
He thinks he’s adapting to the IL-15 pretty well and is already looking forward to Barber where he had a very good test.
Nico Jamin talked about tomorrow’s crazy schedule. They will qualify for Race #2 at 7:55am, and then will run Race #1 at 5:10pm. From a set-up standpoint, the qual session will be very different as today there was a 40 degree difference in track temperature from the first session to the second. We’d expect the same tomorrow. Jamin said after the qual session, he’s planning to try and stay in the air conditioning for most of the day to not get tired before their day ending race.
Colton Herta talked about his new program, and said its great to have “two household names” coming together with Andretti and Steinbrenner. His expectations for this weekend are to come out of here with some points “and not much of a damage bill”.
He wants to start out looking for top 5’s and podiums early in the season, and then in the second half of the year he’d like to be fighting for race wins.
Herta said that when he has issues he starts out with his crew guys since they have so much experience with these cars, and then goes to his dad after that because he also has a lot of experience around racing in general. His dad, Bryan, is definitely his #2 stop when he has questions, or is just looking for more information.
Ok, and with that, I’m going to all it a day. Here is tomorrow’s open wheel schedule:
Saturday, March 11, 2017
|7:30am – 7:50am
|Pro Mazda Qualifying #2
|7:55am – 8:25am
|Indy Lights Qualifying #2
|8:40am – 9:20am
|USF2000 Race #1
|10:50am – 11:35am
|IndyCar Practice #3
|11:50am – 12:40pm
|Pro Mazda Race #1
|2pm – 2:40pm
|USF2000 Race #2
|2:55pm – 4:10pm
|5:10pm – 6pm
|Indy Lights Race #1