The 2022 IndyCar Series season began today in St. Petersburg, Florida. After a less than stellar 2021 season, Team Penske was back out in front on the streets of St. Petersburg. Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin started his sophomore year with a bang. The New Zealander beat his teammate Will Power to secure his maiden pole in qualifying. Then, McLaughlin went on to take his maiden victory, but it certainly wasn’t an easy trip to victory lane.
At the race start, it was almost a pristine run through the first corner for the field as McLaughlin held on to the lead. I say almost as Will Power had a poor start, and Andretti Autosport’s Romain Grosjean attempted to take advantage on his inside. The two made light contact. Grosjean feared that his front wing was damaged, but he continued regardless.
On Lap 25, Dale Coyne Racing’s rookie David Malukas brought out the race’s first caution after hitting the wall hard in turn 3. Andretti’s Alexander Rossi would lead the field at the restart as he didn’t pit his car. Rossi was the only driver not to pit by that point in the race. Rossi held onto the lead before pitting under green flag conditions on lap 37 and rejoining the area as the last driver running.
After the final round of pitstops, Scott McLaughlin inherited the lead from a long-running Scott Dixon. McLaughlin built a two-second lead, but things changed when he encountered backmarker Jimmie Johnson. Johnson held up McLaughlin as his Ganassi teammate and reigning champion Alex Palou chipped away at the margin.
When McLaughlin got past Johnson, Palou was within a second. He was basically on the Kiwi’s rear. Palou fought to close in on the Penske to make a move as they negotiated their way through lap traffic. Scott McLaughlin was able to hold on and win the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. This victory was the first open-wheel win for the three-time Australian Supercars champion since his 2010 season in the Victorian State Formula Ford.
The IndyCar Series will return on March 20th at Texas Motor Speedway for the Xpel 375.