1) Takuma Sato 1:02.5615 / 103.578 mph
2) Graham Rahal 1:02.6122 / 103.494 mph
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 National Guard Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Overall for our first day out I think it was a great day. For us to be that competitive right off the bat feels awesome. I’ve got to say most of all I am proud of these National Guard guys because it was only 48, maybe 72 hours ago that we had a big trailer fire and our guys did an incredible job getting everything switched back over in Indy. It was a rush, it was absolutely a rush to get down here. When I strap into the car, I can smell smoke; it covered everything. For us to be in the position we are in says a lot about the people we have. I am proud of them and as dad said last night to them ‘Through adversity comes a team” and I think we have a great group of people and I think that is going to show this year.”
- FAST FACTS: Will make his SEVENTH start at this track. His best start here is pole in 2009 and best finish is a win in 2008 in his IndyCar Series debut – both history-making moments as the youngest driver to do so… Qualified 15th in 2013 for RLL and was in ninth place when the team discovered an electrical issue on Lap 22 under caution that shut the engine off intermittently 6-7 times and dropped him to 21st place. He soldiered on to finish 13th… He qualified 11th in 2012 and finished 12th and qualified 12th in 2011 and finished 17th – both for Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR). He qualified 16th and finished 9th for Sarah Fisher Racing in 2010. While with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, he won pole in 2009 and finished seventh and qualified ninth, led 19 laps and won in his series debut in 2008 at the age of 19 years, 93 days old… His highest series start is pole at St. Pete (2009; street) and Kansas (2009; oval) and his highest finish is a win in St. Pete (2008) in his IndyCar Series debut to make him the youngest winner in series history at 19 years, 93 days old.
SEVENTH ST. PETE EVENT FOR RLL: This will mark the seventh IndyCar race for the team in St. Pete and the 12th car entered. The team prepared Indy cars for Danica Patrick (2005, 2006), Buddy Rice (2005, 2006), Vitor Meira (2005), Jeff Simmons (2007), Scott Sharp (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2008), Takuma Sato (2012), Graham Rahal (2013) and James Jakes (2013) prior to this year. The team led the 2012 race for 11 laps with Takuma Sato and for four laps with Hunter-Reay in 2008 (G. Rahal won) and has earned three top-10 finishes with the best being fifth by Meira in 2005. The highest starting position by the team is sixth place by Hunter-Reay in 2008.
NEXT UP: Practice will take place tomorrow morning from 10:00-10:45 a.m. ET. Qualifying will take place from 2:00-3:10 PM. Timing and Scoring information is available for all sessions from www.indycar.com. The season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be televised live on ABC at 3:00 PM ET Sunday, March 30.
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