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NBC Sports Predictor

IndyCar Pick 'Em, Grand Prix of St Petersburg: Team Penske Rules

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: February 24, 2022, 10:21 am ET

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From 2011 through 2019, the Grand Prix of St Petersburg kicked off the IndyCar Series on a tough course made up of streets and one runway of the Albert Whitted Airport. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic jostled this race a bit, but it couldn't stop the competition.

The free-to-play IndyCar Pick ‘Em game is simple to play, but with equally matched drivers in each category, it’s not always easy to determine who will lead their group. Each week, players will decide which drivers run the best and how the statistics will play out.

Participants can compete for weekly cash prizes, with a $25,000 jackpot available for any participants who earn a perfect score. There will also be at least $1,000 awarded each week in guaranteed cash and prizes, even if there is no player with a perfect score.

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Team With Most Top-10 Finishers

With two winners to Team Penske's credit and two more runner-up finishes in the past five years, it's hard to consider anyone else at this level. During that span, they have claimed 13 top-10s and never had fewer than two in a season. Penske also has the most team wins with nine. So far.

Chip Ganassi is second in this statistic with two top-10 finishers in each of the last four years, including last year's fifth-place finisher Scott Dixon and seventh-place Marcus Ericsson.

Advantage: Team Penske


Starting Position of Winning Driver

Last year Colton Herta won this race from the pole and in 2019 Josef Newgarden took the victory from the outside of the front row, but three of the last five Grad Prixs of St. Petersburg were won from the third row or higher, including a victory by Sebastien Bourdais from 28th in 2017.

Track position is critical on road courses. In addition to the front row wins, the top four finishers in 2021 and 2019 all started fourth or better.

Advantage: 1st-4th.


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Drivers Leading Laps

Players will need to decide if they believe last year was an anomaly or a new direction. From 2017 through 2020, at least four drivers led laps in the St. Petersburg GP. Last year, it was only three for the first time since 2016.

We'll go low this week, but respect the trend of either four or five.

Advantage: 4


Time Lapse 1st – 5th (in seconds)

A late-race caution can throw this pick out the window, so if you believe that will happen, take the low number of five seconds or less. The only race to finish under caution in the past five years happened in 2018, however.

Advantage: 6.5001 – 8 seconds


Lead Lap Finishers

The trends during the past five years straddle the top three selections this week. As few as 10 drivers have finished on the lead lap during that span; nine completed the distance in 2016. In the last four seasons, the number has crept up with 16 finishing in sight of the leaders last year.

The more typical number, however, is 14.

Advantage: 14


Best Rookie

This one will be tough with six rookie drivers entered. Last year's top two Indy Lights finishers, Kyle Kirkwood and David Malukas highlight the six drivers available, so they are where your focus should be in the season opener. The teams are about equal, but Kirkwood has the momentum with 10 wins and the 2021 Lights championship.

Click here for more information from Nate Ryan at NBC Sports.

Advantage: David Malukas


Best Finish, Former Winner and Race Winner

Herta and Newgarden won the last three races with the Nashville native taking the checkers in 2019-2020. Team Penske is on a roll after winning the Daytona 500 last week, so we'll make Newgarden our pick as both the race winner, which in turn will also make him the highest finishing former winner. When this race ends, Team Penske will have double digits at St. Pete.

Advantage: Josef Newgarden


2021 MotoGP Grand Prix of America
Best Bets: 2021 Indy 500

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.