Robert Wickens continues to lead IndyCar race at St. Pete

Florence Fletcher
March 13, 2018

Honda had a huge day in the season-opener as cars power by their engines collected the first six positions. They helped make him stronger, perhaps not physically, but certainly emotionally. Every driver had to deal with the unpredictabilities of a new aero package which features less downforce, so no one truly had an advantage, regarding setup. He was coaxed into IndyCar by longtime friend James Hinchcliffe and the two comprise an all-Canadian lineup at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. He finished the first session in sixth and seventh in the second, which was led by former series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Rossi, for Andretti Autosport, was third and the highest-finishing driver from one of IndyCar's "top teams".

Along with Wickens, rookies Matheus Leist and Jordan King looked competitive.

"We got lucky. Even if Sebastien had got a proper qualifying run in, we wouldn't have been at the front". If you look at his two years in Indy Lights, each half-season he got better and better.

Though Wickens was disappointed not to secure his rookie win, others believe he may have gotten what he deserved.

Verizon IndyCar Series competitors, Robert Wickens and Alexander Rossi disagree over who was to blame for their race defining collision on the penultimate lap of yesterday's 2018 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Power lined up second with the blazingly fast Liest, King, and Takuma Sato rounding out the top five.

"It all worked out", said Rahal, who started the race last after being penalized in qualifying on Saturday for causing a red-flag stoppage when his vehicle stopped on track.

"This is emotional because I was able from a few broken bones to come back in this victory circle", said Bourdais, who lives in St. Petersburg near where the 1.8-mile temporary street course is constructed each year. The victory was handed to him when Alexander Rossi and Robert Wickens crashed racing for the lead. After the Power spin, Tony Kanaan spun in an incident with Zach Veach that was reviewed. Also of note, sixth place starter Hunter-Reay was forced to pit as the green flag fell due to his auto experiencing electrical issues.

"I was so close to kind of doing the impossible in my first race in IndyCar - picking up the pole position and the win and leading the most laps."

Regardless of pit strategy, most of the race was led by the rookie pole sitter. "Before, I had not raced him, but I know now". They did an entirely different pace vehicle procedure than what they'd done on every other yellow flag all day. An unusually long yellow set up a four lap shootout to the finish. This yellow gave Rossi another chance, as he kept his nose glued to the back on Wickens vehicle on the restart with only three laps to go.

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"Normally they don't allow push-to-pass on restarts".

But after all the success he's had in his adopted hometown, as well as Daytona and Sebring and other venues in both IndyCar and sports vehicle racing, the Bourdais family may have to look at either building an addition or buying a larger home. The other overcame controversy to finish third. Officials deemed the move a non call, which was the correct call to make in this situation.

Rossi, however, blames Wickens for the incident.

The win, his second straight at St. Pete, caps a comeback after a horrendous crash at Indianapolis last May. He was sidelined a year ago after a devastating qualifying crash at Indianapolis kept him from racing for most of 2017.

"I do think he handled himself with class, but I'd like to see some rivalries", he continued.

"I'm not going to deny it is hard", Castroneves said.

It was rather a matter of how fast he could get back in a auto. Aside from more horsepower, Indycar's only crutch is their TV coverage.

"That's going to be a big one", he said. Their coverage is just lacking.

When Bourdais was seriously injured in a crash at Indianapolis last May while preparing for the Indy 500, there was initial fear that he would miss the rest of the season, let alone possibly never race again.

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