Qualifying Report: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 24, 2021)—Sebastien Bourdais continues to prove why he is a four-time INDYCAR champion.
After a couple of frustrating practices in which he ended up 14th and 16th, Bourdais and his team of engineers were able to sort out the No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet in time for qualifying. Bourdais made it through two rounds of knockout qualifying to be in the Firestone Fast Six. After setting a lap time of 1 minute, 1.0017 seconds (106.227 mph), he will start fifth in tomorrow’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
“A really good afternoon here in the St. Pete Grand Prix in the ROKiT No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet,” said Bourdais, who won the pole here in 2003 in his first ever INDYCAR start. “Really happy with that Fast 6 and we’re going to start fifth tomorrow. It’s definitely a big turnaround from FP 1 (“free practice”) and FP 2 so hats off to the boys for figuring it out and giving me a great ride. Can’t wait for the race tomorrow!”
Bourdais with part of his engineering group (L to R): Technical Director Mike Colliver, Performance Engineer Daniele Cucchiaroni and Race Engineer Justin Taylor after the morning practice.
The fifth place run was the best for Bourdais since he qualified sixth here in 2015. Last October, he barely missed the top 6 and started seventh. He followed up by finishing fourth for the Foyt team’s best ever finish here. The team did win a pole with Takuma Sato in 2014 after he started second for the team in 2013. More recently, Matheus Leist qualified third in his first ever INDYCAR start in 2018 driving for Foyt.
Dalton Kellett’s first run in an Indy car at St. Pete didn’t go quite as well as he had hoped.
Kellett's tall frame has a snug fit in the cockpit of his No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet.
“A bit of a tough qualifying session for the No. 4,” said the affable Canadian who will start 24th. “Got two runs on Firestone Reds. On the second set of reds when the track was optimum and we were going for it, I was up on my lap time but I had a moment in turn 5 and lost that one good lap. The tires come in so fast and you’ve just got to get that one lap right, and I didn’t put it together for this one so I have to reset for tomorrow.”
Colton Herta won the NTT P1 Award with his pole-winning time of 1 minute, .3210 of a second (107.425 mph) lap time for his fifth career pole. Rounding out the Firestone Fast Six were Jack Harvey, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Bourdais and Pato O’Ward, who won the pole last weekend at Barber Motorsport Park.
The teams will have a 30-minute warmup tomorrow morning as the final prep for the Firestone Grand Prix which will be broadcast live on NBC starting at 12 noon. The race will also be carried on the INDYCAR Radio Network.