IndyCar »

Strous takes St Pete Lights win.

Dutch rookie Junior Strous became the seventh driver to win on his first Firestone Indy Lights debut, taking the chequered flag in the first leg of the Grand Prix of St Petersburg double-header weekend.

Starting from second on the grid - decided for the first time in Indy Lights history by two parallel qualifying groups - Strous overcame polewinner JR Hildebrand to win by 0.7205secs from fellow rookie Jonathan Summerton after 40 laps of the sinuous 1.8-mile St Petersburg street circuit.

The aptly-mounted Winners Circle Group driver had to bide his time in second for the first 22 laps, but passed Hildebrand on a lap 23 restart and led the final 18 tours to take the win.

“This victory means so much, especially since we are a new team," Strous admitted, "We only had one day of testing, and the guys worked so hard to get this together. It was a tough race, and we had a not so good start. The tyres weren't warmed up, so I lost two positions off the start and then managed to gain another three. I also think I had a legendary take-over manoeuvre in turn one, which kudos to JR Hildebrand, who did some great driving to give the space and not crash.”

Summerton, too, accounted for Hildebrand, having tagged on to the rear of Strous' orange-and-white machine, but admitted that his day could have been tougher had others kept their heads.

“I stayed clean on the start and just paid attention to where everyone was going - it was chaos and you could see it coming," the RLR/Andersen pilot admitted, "Then I basically kept following Junior. Each pass he made, I just kept following him - it was really good. I think we had a quicker car but, in the end, following him was a little rough, as I lost some of the downforce on the car.”

Hildebrand also lost a position to the charging Ana Beatriz, but recovered to finish on the podium in his first race for the AFS/Andretti Green squad.

“We got out to a good lead at the beginning but a couple of yellows came out and,after the second yellow, the car wasn't pulling off the top end down the straight," Hildebrand revealed, "I had a tough time getting into sixth gear, and it turns out that we had a battery going dead. That just held me up down the straights. I was kind of a sitting duck.”

"Unfortunately, at the end, I lost the rear in corner one and Hildebrand passed me again," Beatriz confirmed, "I couldn't see anything. My tear-offs were so dirty with oil and dirt and I missed a brake. I think the team deserved a podium today, but we have another race tomorrow, so we'll see. I think we have a pretty good car.”

Jay Howard, back in Indy Lights after a frustrating year chasing a permanent seat in the full IndyCar Series, completed the top five on his first outing with Team PBIR, while James Hinchcliffe, Daniel Herrington, James Davison, Mario Romancini and Charlie Kimball wrapped up the ten leading runners.


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Junior Strous - Winners Circle Group   [pic credit: IRL/Haines]
Juan Pablo Montoya celebrates winning the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg with third-place finisher Tony Kanaan (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya celebrates winning the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Start of the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power (left), driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6; and Tony Kanaan (right), driver of the #10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6; celebrate with Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, who raced to victory Sunday, March 29, 2015 winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Power finished second. Kanaan finished third. Chevrolet took the top six places in the first race of the season. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, March 29, 2015 after winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, March 29, 2015 after winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, March 29, 2015 winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya wins the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya wins the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya wins the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya wins the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher)
Juan Pablo Montoya enters Turn 3 during the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power clash in the closing laps of the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal waits on pit lane prior to practice for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal apexes Turn 1 during practice for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal through the chicane during practice for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal enters Turn 11 during practice for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)

Start the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.




© 1999 - 2015 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.