It’s hard to believe, but none of legendary six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Scott Dixon’s 53 career wins have come on the streets of St. Petersburg.
That might change Sunday, if the results of the opening practice Friday are any indication.
Dixon was quickest during the opening practice session of the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, turning a top lap of 1 minute, 1.6145 seconds in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Dixon will look to take the top step of the podium in the race Sunday (noon ET, NBC, Peacock, Telemundo Deportes on Universo, INDYCAR Radio Network) after four second-place and two third-place career finishes at this event.
SEE: Practice Results | Practice Highlights
“The first session was a little messy,” Dixon said. “The session ran really long, an hour and 15 minutes, which was good. A couple sets of tires for most of the field. We ended up at the top, which is a nice way to start the weekend. Now the tough part is trying to stay there.”
Up next on the 14-turn, 1.8-mile temporary street circuit is practice at 10 a.m. ET Saturday, followed by NTT P1 Award qualifying at 2:15 p.m., with live coverage of both sessions on Peacock.
It was a strong start to the season for Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport, whose drivers took the top four spots.
2021 St. Petersburg winner Colton Herta was second overall with a top time of 1:01.6475 in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda fielded by Andretti Autosport. 2021 season champion Alex Palou ended up third at 1:01.6790 in the No. 10 The American Legion Honda fielded by CGR.
Kyle Kirkwood produced a strong start to his Andretti Autosport career in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES by placing fourth at 1:01.6851 in the No. 27 AutoNation Honda. Kirkwood drove for AJ Foyt Racing last season as a rookie before returning to the team with which he won the INDY NXT by Firestone championship in 2021.
2016 series champion Simon Pagenaud rounded out the top five at 1:01.6963 in the No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda fielded by Meyer Shank Racing despite stopping on course just shy of halfway into the 75-minute session.
Rinus VeeKay was the quickest Chevrolet-powered driver, sixth at 1:01.8514 in the No. 21 Bitnile.com Chevrolet of Ed Carpenter Racing. Marcus Armstrong was the quickest of the four rookies in the field, ninth at 1:01.9444 in the No. 11 Ridgeline Lubricants Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
2022 St. Petersburg race winner Scott McLaughlin was one of a handful of veteran and rookie drivers who encountered problems between the unforgiving concrete walls of the circuit, which includes the asphalt streets of St. Petersburg and a concrete runway at Albert Whitted Airport. McLaughlin was 10th overall at 1:01.9882 in the No. 3 DEX Imaging Team Penske Chevrolet despite brushing the wall and damaging a toe link during the session, forcing repairs in the pits.