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Rain could throw damper on St. Pete strategy

Mar 24, 2013, 10:32 AM EDT

Honda Grand Prix Of St. Petersburg - Day 2 Getty Images

Honda teams were back on pace in Sunday’s morning warmup for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, powering eight of the top 10 runners. Only Ryan Hunter-Reay, who led the session, and Panther Racing’s JR Hildebrand interrupted the sweep.

But all things being equal, conditions were vastly different this morning to the rest of the weekend. Ambient temperatures have only been in the 70s but the track temperature has ranged from the mid-80s to as high as 97. This morning saw temps at 71 ambient, 76 track, and with 100 percent humidity.

It appears the Chevrolet is at an advantage, if only slightly, under normal weather circumstances. But if rain falls for today’s race, as has been projected all week, the dynamic changes entirely.

NBC Sports Network pit reporter Jon Beekhuis estimates, for a dry race, that pit stop windows will fall from laps 11-32 (first stop), 44-65 (second) and 77-98 (third) for the 110 lap race.

With a full fuel stop, times on pit road should be 24.5 seconds from pit in to pit out, Beekhuis projects. A gap roughly around 30 seconds could net a driver enough time to pit, make his or her stop, and resume on track without losing the position.

Will Power starts from pole ahead of Takuma Sato and Simona de Silvestro for Sunday’s race. Coverage begins live at noon ET on NBC Sports Network, with a 12:40 p.m. green flag.

The starting grid with designated starting tire, if dry, is below.

IZOD IndyCar Series – Honda GP of St. Petersburg

Starting Lineup

Row 1

12-Will Power (Alternate)
14-Takuma Sato (Alternate)

Row 2

78-Simona de Silvestro (Alternate)
27-James Hinchcliffe (Alternate)

Row 3

3-Helio Castroneves (Alternate)
55-Tristan Vautier (Alternate)

Row 4

25-Marco Andretti (Primary)
1-Ryan Hunter-Reay (Primary)

Row 5

6-Sebastian Saavedra (Alternate)
10-Dario Franchitti (Alternate)

Row 6

11-Tony Kanaan (Alternate)
22-Oriol Servia (Primary)

Row 7

19-Justin Wilson (Alternate)
83-Charlie Kimball (Primary)

Row 8

15-Graham Rahal (Primary)
67-Josef Newgarden (Alternate)

Row 9

98-Alex Tagliani (Alternate)
16-James Jakes (Primary)

Row 10

77-Simon Pagenaud (Alternate)
9-Scott Dixon (Primary)

Row 11

7-Sebastien Bourdais (Primary)
5-EJ Viso (Primary)

Row 12

20-Ed Carpenter (Alternate)
4-JR Hildebrand (Alternate)

Row 13

18-Ana Beatriz (Alternate)

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