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Bernard Meets With Officials From Pocono, Houston About Adding Races To '13 Schedule
Published March 26, 2012
EVERYONE'S DAY IN ST. PETE: In Tampa, Jim Tomlin writes IndyCar "finally got a chance to move on" yesterday after the '11 season "ended in the worst way imaginable." Driver Helio Castroneves won his third Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and he said, "This was just what we needed." Not only did yesterday's race kick off the '12 Izod IndyCar season, but it was also the first IndyCar event since St. Petersburg resident and driver Dan Wheldon died in a crash Oct. 16 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Wheldon's sister, Holly, "dropped the green flag at the start and presented the winner's trophy to Castroneves at the end" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/26). ESPN.com's John Oreovicz wrote IndyCar got "exactly what it needed" yesterday, a "clean, competitive race, without any bone-headed driving, contentious officiating or technical calamity." The race "didn't offer much in the way of passing or wheel-to-wheel excitement, but it did show that the series has a solid platform to work with in terms of developing the new Dallara DW12 chassis and turbocharged V-6 engines" (ESPN.com, 3/25). In Tampa, Gary Shelton writes under the header, "IndyCar Drivers, Fans Share Perfect Day At Grand Prix Of St. Petersburg With Dan Wheldon." Shelton: "It was Helio's day, and it was Dan's. It was St. Pete's day, and it was IndyCar's day. ... All of them won Sunday, the drivers and the departed racer." Wheldon's presence was "everywhere, on ribbons, on stickers." Shelton writes, "You could feel him as clearly as you could hear engines roar" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/26).
HAPPY WITH THE EVENT: Penske said that he "favors keeping the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg as the series' opener." He said, "Coming to Florida this time of year, it's a good place to be. The whole city has embraced what's going on. To me, that's good." Bernard "praised the city but said he doesn't want to commit to St. Petersburg as the long-term season opener." Bernard: "I love St. Pete. I think that wherever St. Pete is, it'll be successful. I don't want to box myself in and say that it should be the first event." Bernard added that 90% of his attention "has been focused on adding new North American markets next year" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/25).