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RACE PREVIEW: 2023 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

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FRIDAY, MARCH 3 – SUNDAY, MARCH 5

TRACK: Streets of St. Petersburg
LOCATION: St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
TRACK LAYOUT: 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit
RACE LENGTH: 100 laps/180 miles

PRACTICE: Friday – 3-4:15 p.m. ET (Peacock Premium)
Saturday – 10-11 a.m. ET (Peacock Premium)
Sunday – 9-9:30 a.m. ET (Peacock Premium)
QUALIFYING: Saturday – 2:15-3:30 p.m. ET (Peacock Premium)
RACE: Sunday – 12:30 p.m. ET (NBC, 12 p.m. ET)

ED CARPENTER RACING

• Unparalleled consistency remains the theme for Ed Carpenter Racing as the team enters its 12th season of NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition. For the fourth consecutive year, ECR will have the same driver lineup and feature nearly identical leadership across the organization. The team’s two full-time entries, the No. 20 of Conor Daly and the No. 21 of Rinus VeeKay, in addition to the ovals-only No. 33 of Ed Carpenter, will be fully supported by new digital marketplace BITNILE.COM. 

• ECR is led by Carpenter, the only individual in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES who handles both the responsibility of driving the racecar and owning his own team. As one of the most experienced drivers in the field, 2023 will be Carpenter’s 21st season of Indy car competition. He solidified his status as a hometown favorite when he scored back-to-back pole positions for the Indianapolis 500 in 2013 and 2014, then again in 2018. 

• Day-to-day operations at ECR remain under the direction of team president Tim Broyles. Matt Barnes leads as Chief Engineer while long-time team member Jeff Frederick has been promoted to Chief Mechanic. Pete Craik continues as lead engineer for the No. 20 with Jeff Grahn as crew chief. On the No. 21, Barnes serves as VeeKay’s lead engineer with Dave Arnold moving up to crew chief. Strategists will again be Brent “Woody” Harvey for VeeKay and Broyles for the No. 20 car, a position he has held since ECR’s first race in 2012. Nearly a dozen of the team’s 40 employees are original hires, including Broyles, Barnes and Harvey.

CONOR DALY, NO. 20 BITNILE.COM CHEVROLET

CONOR DALY, No. 20 BITNILE.COM Chevrolet: “Starting the new season with BITNILE.COM on both our team cars is super exciting. We have 17 races in front of us to do some incredible things together. I have always enjoyed St. Pete and have been close to some good results there several times. We’ve all worked hard over the winter and we are ready to start the season strong!”

OF NOTE: 

• Conor Daly returns to ECR for a fourth season and his second as full-time driver of the No. 20 BITNILE.COM Chevrolet. In 2023, he will reach a career milestone as he makes his 100th NTT INDYCAR SERIES start early in the season and will compete in his 10th Indianapolis 500.

• Second-generation racer Daly climbed into a kart for the first time at the age of 10; within five years, he was competing in both United States and international open-wheel ladder systems. He found success in each before concentrating solely on American motorsports in 2015. Born and raised in nearby Noblesville, Ind., Daly has grown to be a hometown favorite in the Indianapolis 500. The 2021 edition saw him lead the most laps of all drivers; in 2022, he finished a career-best 6th.

• Daly has competed in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg five times, leading the race for 16 laps during his first event in 2016. In 2022, Daly qualified 20th and finished 21st. Despite the challenges last year’s event presented, he was able to set the fastest lap of the race.

RINUS VEEKAY, NO. 21 BITNILE.COM CHEVROLET

RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 BITNILE.COM Chevrolet: “I’m just so excited to get back to racing, the offseason is too long! Of course, the first race of the year is nice but it is also a test to see how our offseason preparation has paid off. I cannot wait to get back out there and get some podiums! I’m also very excited to get to drive the white and gold BITNILE.COM car, thank you to Todd Ault for making it happen! Counting down the milliseconds until St. Pete!” (Photo Courtesy of INDYCAR Photo)

OF NOTE: 

• Rinus VeeKay remains ECR’s longest-tenured full-time driver, now entering his fourth season behind the wheel the No. 21 BITNILE.COM Chevrolet. The 22-year-old has spent his entire NTT INDYCAR SERIES career with ECR and will make his 50th start early in the 2023 season at Barber Motorsports Park. 

• Raised in Hoofddorp, Netherlands, Rinus van Kalmthout transitioned to the Road to Indy (RTI) in 2017 and launched his U.S. career driving as Rinus VeeKay. He joined ECR for the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, following a rapid ascent through the RTI which included 16 wins and 36 podiums in 48 races. VeeKay became an NTT INDYCAR SERIES race winner in May of 2021 with a victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and earned his most recent pole position at Barber Motorsports Park this past season. 

• Of his three starts in the streets of St. Petersburg, the 2022 edition proved to be the most fruitful for VeeKay to date. He started 4th following his first career Firestone Fast 6 appearance. After leading 13 laps, he brought home a 6th-place finish. 

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