ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Alex Cobb is trading in his fastball for the fast lane to serve as the honorary starter for the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the season-opening Verizon IndyCar Series race, which begins at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 29.
"We are excited to have Alex join us as Honorary Starter for the big race," said Kevin Savoree, co-owner, president and chief operating officer of Green Savoree Racing Promotions, organizers of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. "Being in the starter's stand and waving the green flag is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We hope he enjoys the incredible view up there; he'll truly have a front row seat for the start of the race."
Cobb has already been named to start the Rays season-opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field on April 6. The 27-year-old right-hander has posted a winning record in each of his four Major League Baseball seasons and has won 10 or more games in each of the past three campaigns. He fashioned with a 10-9 record in 2014, and sixth in the American League with a 2.87 earned run average.
"I am really excited about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Cobb said of being named the honorary starter, and as a particpipant in other pre-race ceremonies. "I'm starting an IndyCar race one week and Opening Day the next. Plus, it's an honor to represent the Rays at an event that has become so important to our community and one that helps make Tampa Bay such a great place to live."
"I am really excited about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Tampa Rays pitcher Alex Cobb said of being named the honorary starter, and as a particpipant in other pre-race ceremonies for the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. "I'm starting an IndyCar race one week and Opening Day the next. Plus, it's an honor to represent the Rays at an event that has become so important to our community and one that helps make Tampa Bay such a great place to live."
Cobb isn't the only Tampa Bay-area pro-athlete taking part in the racing festivities.
Vincent Jackson, a three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL, will serve as the grand marshal leading up to the start of the 110-lap race on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit.
Since joining the Buccaneers in 2012, Jackson has recorded three consecutive seasons with more than 1,000 yards receiving and 17 touchdowns. He has been named the team's "Man of the Year" – honoring his leadership both on the field and in the community – the past two seasons.
"I have the utmost respect for all of the drivers, crew members and teams that will be competing at the event, and can't wait to join them on the track," Jackson said of his upcoming duties as grand marshal for the Firestone Grand Prix race. "It's a great chance to showcase not only the city of St. Petersburg, but the entire Bay Area on a national stage, and I am excited to help represent Tampa Bay as the Verizon IndyCar Series kicks off its season."
2014 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersbueg Race Recap: