The Verizon IndyCar Series announced this week that the teams competing in the 2015 championship have now all been sent the new bespoke aerodynamic components that will be used for the first time in competition at the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg on Sunday, March 29.

The aero kits in both road/street course and oval configurations have been designed and manufactured by the teams respective engine providers, either Honda or Chevrolet. The new parts replace the previous standardised components provided by Dallara, who build the basic DW-12 chassis that all teams use in the open wheel series.

The new aero kits are intended to raise competition between the manufacturers, and will also allow them to distinguish themselves in appearance on track from their competitors.

Teams now have a short period of time to get used to the new components and run their own initial testing and configuration on them. Many teams will be on track either at NOLA Motorsports Park, Texas Motor Speedway or Sebring International Raceway.

That will be followed by the official IndyCar pre-season open test, which will be held at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama on March 16-17. Testing then continues the following week at NOLA and Sebring before the teams head to Florida for the first of 16 races on the 2015 calendar.

The tight time scale means that teams are having to scramble to maximise their preparation time. Personnel at CFH Racing - the new two-car squad formed by the merging of Ed Carpenter Racing and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing over the winter - have been split into multiple groups "to move things along," according to team general manager Tim Broyles.

"In the past you've had the whole winter to go back and do all the body fit work and it's being condensed into about 10 days before we have to have trucks loaded for our first test," Broyles explained.

"There will be a lot of lists and notes," he continued. "There will still be a lot to learn for the drivers, whether they have to adjust their style or just the way the car feels so there will be a lot of work over the next few weeks for crews, engineers and drivers across the whole series."

With the designs for the aero kit having been submitted to IndyCar for homologation at the start of the year, it will still be another month before teams receive the speedway package that will be used for the first time in the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 in May.

NFL star named at St Pete grand marshal

Organisers of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg have named Vincent Jackson, three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as grand marshal for this year's race.

"I'm honoured to have the opportunity to serve as grand marshal for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg," said Jackson. "I have the utmost respect for all of the drivers, crew members and teams that will be competing at the event, and can't wait to join them on the track.

"It's a great chance to showcase not only the city of St. Petersburg, but the entire Bay Area on a national stage, and I am excited to help represent Tampa Bay as the Verizon IndyCar Series kicks off its season."

"We are delighted to have Vincent join us as the grand marshal for the race," said Kevin Savoree, co-owner, president and COO of Green Savoree Racing Promotions, organizers of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

"The grand marshal role at any race is an important but exciting part of the spectacle and festivities during the event weekend. We're looking forward to welcoming Vincent and the Buccaneers organisation to the track."

Carlin tops Indy Lights test

Carlin's Ed Jones and Max Carlin topped the time sheets in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires open test on March 3 at Barber Motorsports Park. It was the final series test session before the season-opening doubleheader March 28-29 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.

Dixon and Wilson to race 12 Hours at Sebring

IndyCar drivers Scott Dixon and Justin Wilson have both been confirmed as being in action at this year's 12 Hours of Sebring on March 21, a week before the IndyCar season itself gets underway.

Dixon will join Scott Pruett and Joey Hand to co-drive the #01 Prototype in the endurance race at Sebring International Raceway. The Ganassi driver was part of a four-man all-star team that took victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona in January, alongside his IndyCar team mate Tony Kanaan and NASCAR counterparts Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson.

Meanwhile former F1 driver Justin Wilson will co-drive the Michael Shank Racing Prototype in the race. Wilson is yet to confirm his racing plans for 2015, with speculation that he has not yet been able to nail down a race seat in the open wheel series.

Wilson spent four years competing in the Champ Car World Series and has been an IndyCar regular since it unified with the Indy Racing League to form the current championship in 2008. Wilson has had stints with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and most recently three consecutive years with Dale Coyne Racing.