ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—“Tough day.”
So summed up Tony Kanaan as he sat on the pit wall after finishing 15th in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the season opener for the NTT IndyCar Series.
For teammate Matheus Leist and his No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet, it was a case of wrong place, wrong time. His race ended after just 25 laps when he clipped the right rear of Ed Jones’s car which was stuffed into the outside wall at Turn 9, a result of Jones nicking the inside wall which shot him hard into the outside wall.
Although a couple cars made it through because they were in the inside groove, Leist was not as fortunate. He almost made it past but his left rear tire made contact with Jones’ right rear, pitching Leist into the concrete barrier further down the track. Fortunately neither Leist nor Jones were hurt.
“Unfortunately not the ideal race that we wanted,” Leist said. “I ended up hitting the 20 car on the restart, so another bad race here in St. Pete but it is what it is. Sometimes it’s just not your day and you’ve got to keep working hard for the next one, so I’m looking forward to the next one in COTA (Circuit of the Americas) now.”
The race did not turn into the street fight that was witnessed in the past as only two caution periods (one of which was for the Jones and Leist accidents) before the halfway mark slowed the race for a total of 11 laps.
Starting 21st in the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet because he didn’t get a chance to post a time yesterday in qualifying, the goal for Kanaan was to finish the race. After seeing the two disabled cars during the caution, Kanaan radioed to his race strategist Scott Harner, “Remember the goal.”
A caution occurred at the time Kanaan was called to pit