2018 marked the twenty-third season of the Verizon IndyCar Series. Seventeen rounds would be contested to determine titles for teams and drivers.

The season opened in early March at Saint Petersburg, Florida and ended at Sonoma Raceway in September. In between these two weekends, there were races held at ISM Raceway, Long Beach, Barber Motorsports Park, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and two events at Belle Isle. Texas Motor Speedway kicks off the second half of the season and it is followed by races held at, Road America, Iowa Speedway, Toronto, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Pocono Raceway, Gateway Motorsports Park with the penultimate round taking place at Portland International Raceway.

There are some newsworthy stories for the 2018 season:

    2018 would be the last year that Verizon is the title sponsor for the IndyCar series.
  • Teams will continue to use the Dallara DW-12 chassis but the cars will be fitted with new bodywork. This universal aero kit has less drag, less downforce and fast straight-line speed.
  • Chevrolet (Chevy IndyCar V6) and Honda (Honda HI17R Indy-V6) continue to supply the 2.2-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engines for the series. These motors rev to a maximum of 12,000-rpm producing 550-700-horsepower depending on the amount of turbo boost.
  • Brian Barnhart who had been the Race Director has been replaced by Kyle Novak.
  • Ten rookies are expected to compete during the season with Zach Veach, Matheus Leist and Robert Wickens participating in all seventeen events.
  • Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske have scaled back their operations – entering fewer cars.
  • The significant changes to the schedule include the addition of Portland International Raceway and the removal of Watkins Glen International from the 2018 calendar.

The opening round of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar series took place at the fourteen-turn 1.800-mile temporary street course in Saint Petersburg, Florida. The event was called the Firestone Grand Prix of Saint Petersburg.

Rookie, Robert Wickens celebrates winning the pole position in his first IndyCar Series start. In round one qualifying, Wickens was third quickest – he trailed Alexander Rossi and another rookie, Jordan King. Making it to the second session, he was the fastest and advanced to the Firestone Fast Six. Under challenging conditions (damp track), Wickens recorded the quickest lap time and captured the pole by 0.070-seconds.
The first lap of the 2018 Firestone Grand Prix of Saint Petersburg. Twenty-four entries funnel through corner one with the pole-sitter, Robert Wickens leading the way. Next to Wickens is the second fastest qualifier and 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, Will Power. Behind the front row are the third and fourth place starters – rookies, Matheus Leist and Jordan King.
In 2017, Robert Wickens participated in an IndyCar practice session at Road America but did not race. This season he joined the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team alongside fellow Canadian James Hinchcliffe. From the first session to the race, Wickens demonstrated he had speed. Wickens qualified on the pole, led the most laps and was in first place when contact with Alexander Rossi forced him to retire.
Alexander Rossi struggled to find speed all weekend and was unable to advance beyond the second qualifying session – he started twelfth. In the final practice, it appeared that the team had corrected the issue affecting the car as Rossi turned the fastest lap. He moved up the race order and with less than five laps left in the race challenged the leader, Robert Wickens. Contact with Wickens resulted in a third-place finish.
At the 2008 St. Pete race, Graham Rahal became the youngest driver (19 years, 93 days old) to win an IndyCar race. In qualifying, Rahal created a red flag situation - knowing that he would lose his quickest time the team decided to save the car and start last. Contact early in the event, changed the team’s strategy – with the race winding down, Rahal was in fourth but the Rossi/Wickens incident gave him a runner-up finish.
James Hinchcliffe, Robert Wickens’ teammate at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, finished fourth in the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Dallara. Hinchcliffe just missed advancing to the Firestone Fast Six and was gridded seventh for the start of the 110-lap contest. As steady performance and being one of the many beneficiaries of the Rossi/Wickens contact resulted in his fourth place at the checkered flag.
The turning point of the race. Alexander Rossi was running a close second to the race leader, Robert Wickens. On lap-108, Rossi decided to make his move in the first corner. The two made contact with Wickens taking the brunt of the exchange. Rossi lost positions to Sebastien Bourdais and Graham Rahal but was able to recover. Wickens spun and hit the barriers which damaged the Dallara’s suspension and forced him to retire.
Four-time Verizon IndyCar champion, Scott Dixon led the final practice session in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara. But that would be the high-point of Dixon’s weekend. The Honda-powered driver could not make it beyond the second qualifying session and would start in the ninth position. During the race, he was penalized for avoidable contact and a pit speed violation but still managed to finish sixth.
Former Indy Lights competitor, Matheus Leist joined Tony Kanaan at A.J. Foyt Enterprises for the 2018 IndyCar season. Rookie, Leist surprised the regulars by turning the quickest time in the opening practice session. In qualifying, he advanced to the Firestone Fast Six where he was third fastest. Unfortunately, Leist was the first retiree of the race – crashing at corner three on lap-29.
Defending race winner, Sebastien Bourdais was the beneficiary of late-race contact between the leader, Robert Wickens and Alexander Rossi in second place. When Rossi’s attempt to pass Wickens failed on lap-108, Bourdais who was in the third position, was able to grab the lead. He held on for two more circuits to capture his second consecutive victory at the Firestone Grand Prix of Saint Petersburg.

114Sebastien BourdaisDallara IR-12 / HondaDale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan110-
224Graham RahalDallara IR-12 / HondaRahal Letterman Lanigan110-
312Alexander RossiDallara IR-12 / HondaAndretti Autosport110-
47James HinchcliffeDallara IR-12 / HondaSchmidt Peterson Motorsports110-
56Ryan Hunter-ReayDallara IR-12 / HondaAndretti Autosport110-
69Scott DixonDallara IR-12 / HondaChip Ganassi Racing110-
713Josef NewgardenDallara IR-12 / ChevroletTeam Penske110-
817Ed JonesDallara IR-12 / HondaChip Ganassi Racing110-
918Marco AndrettiDallara IR-12 / HondaAndretti Autosport110-
102Will PowerDallara IR-12 / ChevroletTeam Penske110-
1110Tony KanaanDallara IR-12 / ChevroletA.J. Foyt Enterprises110-
125Takuma SatoDallara IR-12 / HondaRahal Letterman Lanigan110-
1311Simon PagenaudDallara IR-12 / ChevroletTeam Penske110-
148Gabby ChavesDallara IR-12 / ChevroletHarding Racing110-
1516Spencer PigotDallara IR-12 / ChevroletEd Carpenter Racing109-
1615Zach VeachDallara IR-12 / HondaAndretti Autosport109-
1722Zachary Claman DeMeloDallara IR-12 / HondaDale Coyne Racing109-
181Robert WickensDallara IR-12 / HondaSchmidt Peterson Motorsports108Contact
1920Max ChiltonDallara IR-12 / ChevroletCarlin Racing108-
2021Charlie KimballDallara IR-12 / ChevroletCarlin Racing107-
214Jordan KingDallara IR-12 / ChevroletEd Carpenter Racing107-
2223Rene BinderDallara IR-12 / ChevroletJuncos Racing100Contact
2319Jack HarveyDallara IR-12 / HondaMichael Shank Racing with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports38Off Course
243Matheus LeistDallara IR-12 / ChevroletA.J. Foyt Enterprises16Contact

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