By: Spencer Neff
February 27, 2022
After dominating second practice and qualifying, Scott McLaughlin continued on Sunday and won the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg,
McLaughlin started on the pole and led 49 of 100 laps, including the final 21 laps on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit. After winning Rookie of the Year at the Indianapolis 500 and in the series for 2021, McLaughlin topped his best finish of his first season (2nd at Texas).
He joins a list that includes Mark Donohue, Paul Tracy, Tom Sneva, Helio Castroneves and Rick Mears as drivers who earned their first career win at Team Penske. After Palou’s 2021, triumph, first-time winners have now begun the season for two straight years.
In his 18th NTT INDYCAR SERIES start, the Christchurch, New Zealand native took home the win, finishing .5095 of a second ahead of defending series champion Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing.
Will Power made it two Penske drivers on the podium in third. The race was slowed by just one caution, lowest of 19 races at St. Petersburg. The eight caution laps are tied with 2017’s race for the fewest in the event. Run at an average speed of 96.899 miles per hour, it eclipsed last year’s race as the fastest in its history.
On the start, Colton Herta and Rinus VeeKay went past Power for second and third as McLaughlin kept up his pace from Saturday. He would stay up from for the opening laps. On Lap 26, the caution flag was brought out for the first time.
Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports’ David Malukas tagged the inside and outside walls in Turn 3.
After coming to a stop, the INDYCAR rookie’s first start would end abruptly. Following a lengthy caution to repair the retaining wall, the green flag was back out on Lap 34. On the restart, Alexander Rossi was able to maintain the lead as he stretched his opening stint all the way until a Lap 38 pit stop for the Andretti Autosport entry.
Continuing to play a three-stop strategy versus the two-stop plan of drivers like Rossi and McLaughlin, Dixon found his way back to the front, as did VeeKay, McLaughlin and Palou during the final cycle of pit stops.
Dixon made his final pit stop on Lap 80, handing the lead back to his countryman McLaughlin. Although there were questions about fuel regarding some of the leaders, McLaughlin was able to hold off the field and win.
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES takes a two-week break ahead of their first oval race of the season. Opening practice for the XPEL 375 at Texas Motor Speedway will be at 11:00 a.m. Eastern on March 19. Qualifying will be at 2:00 with final practice at 5:00.
Preface coverage for the race will begin at 12:00 p.m. Eastern with a scheduled 12:45 p.m. IndyCar1909 will have continued updates on the series through our site and various platforms.
Header Image By Chris Jones/INDYCAR