Firestone Indy Lights racer Peter Dempsey started the 2013 season on form with a second place finish on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida this past weekend. After making several appearances at the top in second practice, the Belardi Auto Racing driver qualified third for the 45-lap event, just two tenths of a second away from the pole position. He then turned his focus on staying out of trouble and gathering as many championship points as possible in the race. The runner-up result matched Dempsey’s personal best in the series and gave the Belardi Auto Racing team its best ever finish.
Uncharacteristically (yet smartly), Dempsey carefully selected his moves throughout the race to work his way onto the podium. The Irishman took the lead for a brief moment on the opening lap then settled into second position behind 2012 Star Mazda Champion Jack Hawksworth. As the race went on, Dempsey eventually fell back a few spots to fourth which ended up in his favor; he avoided contact with the leaders and took advantage at the right moment to move the No. 5 Belardi Auto Racing / Liberty Engineering car back into second. The patient strategy paid off with a satisfying result and strong start to the 2013 Firestone Indy Lights Championship.
“I’m very happy to come away from St. Petersburg with a strong result,” said Dempsey. “I think finishing second in the first race of the year is a solid start and something that we needed for Belardi Auto Racing. It was a tough race, and it was important to keep out of trouble. We had great pace in the middle of the race, but I wasn’t in a position to make a move to pass Jack [Hawksworth]. Towards the end of the race, I backed my pace down and focused on bringing home the Belardi Auto Racing / Liberty Engineering car.
“I really want to thank my team for doing a great job all weekend and accomplishing what we needed to. I also have to thank my sponsor, Liberty Engineering, and send a huge thanks to Bell Helmets for supplying me with a helmet this weekend. I’m really looking forward to going to Barber next weekend. It’s been two years since I’ve been there, and I have more experience with the Firestone Indy Lights cars now, so I’m aiming to go there and put the No. 5 car back at the front.”
Up next for Peter and the Firestone Indy Lights series is the Barber Motorsports Park road course in Birmingham, Alabama April 5-6. To follow Peter’s progress, please go to www.peterdempsey.com and www.indycar.com.