TV, green flag info and drivers to watch out for

ST. PETERSBURG — The IndyCar Series has completed its final practice session for today’s season-opening Firestone Grand Prix in St Petersburg.

Defending race winner Colton Herta of Belleair was fastest in the morning warm-up session. His #26 Honda Andretti Autosport led 97 of the 100 laps in this event a year ago.

Related: Enjoy Pinellas’ Colton Herta at the IndyCar Grand Prix. He won’t be there forever.

Two-time Grand Prix winner Josef Newgarden of Team Penske was second fastest, followed by reigning IndyCar champion Alex Palou. Poleman Scott McLaughlin was in P6 during practice. That’s seven spots ahead of Penske teammate Will Power, who will also start from the front row. Power set a track record with a qualifying lap of 59.3466 seconds in Saturday’s second segment.

Three-time Grand Prix winner Helio Castroneves was the slowest in the field of 26 cars. His #06 Meyer Shank Racing Honda also struggled in qualifying on Saturday.

Jimmie Johnson lost his mind during Sunday morning practice. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

NASCAR legend Jimmie Johnson had another problem – at least his third of the weekend – when he spun around Turn 10.

Related: Why Jimmie Johnson’s NASCAR success hurt him in IndyCar, Grand Prix

If you’re looking for potential winners, start with Herta. He was among the fastest in every practice session, dominated this race last year and started third. The 21-year-old also won the last two races of last season.

McLaughlin has just one podium spot (second in Texas last year) but looks much more comfortable this season in his #3 Chevy. Power is often a factor here too, and keep an eye out for former Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean. His #28 Andretti Autosport Honda had a good weekend, despite being wrecked in Saturday’s practice.

The weather shouldn’t be a problem; it’s supposed to be sunny and about 77 degrees at green flag.

Here is the important information about the race:


The broadcast begins: midday

Estimated green flag time: 12:30 p.m.

Number of rounds: 100

Course details: 1.8 miles, 14 turns