Wickens ran a great race, and we had multiple rookies qualify in the first three rows. "It would've been a fairytale to finish that one out, but sometimes it's not meant to be".
The 39-year old led 30 of the 110 laps and edged out Graham Rahal and Alexander Rossi, who finished second and third respectively. I was really happy for Robert [Wickens] and kind of heartbroken for him, but for us it is just such an upset. Although he was one of seven rookies in the 24-car field Sunday, he is 28 and a proven victor. He was coaxed into IndyCar by longtime friend James Hinchcliffe and the two comprise an all-Canadian lineup at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
There was one other group of individuals that Bourdais also thanked in victory circle, but for more than just being there to witness his win. Rossi, who seemed the faster of the two, was trailing the Canadian by seven-tenths of a second with less than 12 laps remaining. "I think we showed we had a auto that could qualify up front yesterday and we redeemed ourselves a little bit today..." If you want to go there, all the more power to you. So I've known him a long time.
However, this past weekend, in qualifying Bourdais was caught out by a red flag and then had insufficient time and track space to improve his pace, and he wound up starting 16 out of 24 cars. This now ranks the four-time champion sixth on the all-time winners list.
BC-CAR-IndyCar-St Pete, 4th Ld-Writethru, 1075 Bourdais completes comeback with win on his home streetsAP Photo SPANFLJB104, FLJB106, FLJB105, FLJB104, FLJB103, FLJB101, FLJB109, FLJB102Eds: Updates with new lead, additional quotes and details.
Bourdais said he never considered not returning to racing.
"I let Alex get within a second of me, but he was never going to pass me [before the yellows]". "I guess I'm glad I did continue".
The opener through the city streets of St. Petersburg could not have gone any better for IndyCar, which has built enough momentum the last two years to create a palpable sense of excitement for the new season.
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The contact between the pair sent Wickens into the outside wall, with Rossi having to travel through the run-off before rejoining the track.
"So I made the pop [out of the slipstream], he defended the position which he has the right to do but in doing so, by moving in reaction, he put me into the marbles pretty late into the corner". Asked what he said when informed of the messy disaster, Ganassi quipped: "I've got to take a shower". If he defended the inside. and then I continued to go to the inside down the white line, then, yeah, that's my decision and that's putting my vehicle in danger.
"He just went too deep, locked the rears and slid into me", Wickens said. "Not the way I imagined the day going for the No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda".
While Hinchliffe is an IndyCar veteran, Wickens comes to the American series after a successful career racing in Europe. But Rossi was adamant that he didn't err and was justified in racing for the win. "They never turned the lights off on the pace auto". IndyCar officials touted the new Dallara as safer, cheaper and potentially racier, and St. Pete had a race-record 366 on-track passes. Hunter-Reay would start the race in the sixth position.
The slot was, indeed, not very clean.
Many expected Power to push through for the victory, myself included, but a spin for the Australian at turn two put pay to any chances of fighting for the win and gifted Wickens a sizable lead at the end of the first lap.
In 2017, Bourdais suffered an accident in qualifying that left him at the back of the field, but a full-course caution after he had pitted vaulted the #18 DCR-Honda to the front of the pack, where Bourdais was easily able to stave off Simon Pagenaud for the remainder of the race.
Ryan Hunter-Reay also had to go immediately to pit road when his vehicle wouldn't accelerate at the start of the race. The Brazilian joked his command might be directed only at the Penske drivers to start their engines.