Reigning series champion Alex Palou notches second-place finish in 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Honda drivers, teams claim three of top five finishing positions. Uncharacteristically trouble-free race on the city streets.
Defending series champion Alex Palou got his title defense off to a good start in 2022, taking second place in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in his #10 Honda-powered Chip Ganassi Racing machine.
Finishing just half a second behind race winner Scott McLaughlin, Palou’s pivotal moment came during the first round of pit stops. Starting tenth following a practice crash, the #10 crew pitted under caution—due to a crash by rookie David Malukas—and Palou’s crew was able to jump several cars and get the champ out in a net-podium position. The incident would end up being the only caution during the typically-chaotic street race.
Honda also powered Andretti Autosport drivers Colton Herta—the 2021 St. Pete race winner—and Romain Grosjean to top five finishes to kick off the 2022 season, and claimed 11 of the top 15 finishing positions in the field.
Honda-powered drivers have won 10 of the 18 NTT INDYCAR SERIES races at St. Petersburg since the event was revived for the 2005 season. The late Dan Wheldon led a Honda and Andretti Green Racing sweep of the top four positions in the inaugural 2005 event; while Colton Herta dominated in 2021 for Honda and Andretti Autosport.
Other Honda winners on the streets of St. Petersburg include local resident Sebastian Bourdais in 2017-18; Helio Castroneves in 2006 and ’07; Graham Rahal in 2008; Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe and Will Power in 2009 and ’10, respectively; and Dario Franchitti in 2011.
Ten race wins in 2021 brought Honda the company’s 10th INDYCAR Manufacturers’ Championship, and fourth consecutive title, a record for the company. Honda-powered Alex Palou scored three of those wins to claim his first INDYCAR Drivers’ Championship.
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES next heads to the high banks of Texas Motor Speedway for the first oval race of 2022, the EXPEL 375, Sunday, March 20, in Fort Worth, Texas.