Filippi fills grid for St. Petersburg

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Luca Filippi has completed the field for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg as Dale Coyne Racing confirmed the Italian will drive the team’s No. 19 Sonny’s Bar-B-Q-sponsored Honda in the March 13 event.

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Filippi, who has made 18 starts over the past three seasons, joined the team for preseason tests at INDYCAR’s Test in the West at Phoenix International Raceway on Feb. 26-27 as well as a one-day team test at Sebring International Raceway on March 2.

“It was nice to test at Sebring last week before starting the season,” Filippi said. “It was my first time back on a road course in an Indy car since Sonoma last season. We had a very good test and it was a good way to get ready for St. Petersburg. We were mainly focusing on getting a good balance and a good pace. I normally always try to focus on a race pace because if you can be fast and consistent then you have a better chance for a strong result.

Team owner Dale Coyne indicated the plan is to have Filippi run the full season, but has not confirmed Filippi’s status beyond this weekend’s race. Filippi finished ninth in his only start at St. Petersburg in 2015.

“From the team point of view, I see that Dale Coyne Racing is really motivated to boost the level of the team even more this year, and I think that with myself and Conor we have a good combination and I think we could really get strong results,” Filippi said.

“For me personally, I’m more of a street course specialist. I feel like on every street course we go to it can be a good weekend all the time. So, I’m obviously aiming for a solid result because it would be good to start the season scoring some good points. It will be important to have a clean weekend.”

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