St. Petersburg, Fla. (March 11, 2019) – Josef Newgarden opened the 2019 NTT IndyCar® Series season with a dominating performance en route to taking the checkered flag at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Newgarden (Team Penske) led 60 laps in the 110-lap race to earn not only his first victory on the Streets of St. Pete, but also his first top-five finish there in eight career races.
“It was all about tires today in a lot of ways,” Newgarden said. “Our car was a rocket ship on the red compound tires. Being able to go to the new ones midway through the race is what differentiated us. Just having strong performance on tires was critical, and Firestone always brings the best.”
Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing) finished second to extend his history of near misses at the season-opening race. The defending NTT IndyCar Series champion has never won in St. Petersburg, but has now finished runner-up four times. Will Power (Team Penske) claimed the pole at St. Pete for a record eighth time and went on to finish third, while rookie Felix Rosenqvist (Chip Ganassi Racing) and Alexander Rossi (Andretti Autosport) rounded out the top five.
That group sits in the same order atop the driver points standings to start the year.
In its sixth consecutive year as title sponsor of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the Firestone brand was extremely visible and active around the opening weekend of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season – which is its 20th consecutive season as the series’ sole tire supplier.
The brand engaged race fans at the track through its interactive Firestone Fan Experience, which debuted a new photo display that celebrates the 50th anniversary of Mario Andretti’s 1969 Indianapolis 500® win. The legend himself helped kick off the season-long fan engagement program by tweeting out a picture of himself in the display that was featured by Fox News.
Popular Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver Robert Wickens also visited the Firestone fan area for a special autograph session. This weekend marked Wickens’ first visit to a track since suffering serious injuries in a crash in Pocono last season.
The Firestone Racing team next travels to Circuit of the Americas Sunday, March 24 for the NTT IndyCar Series’ first-ever visit to the iconic Texas road course. Coverage starts at 1:00 p.m. ET (12:00 p.m. CT) on NBCSN.