Robert Wickens Tremendous in Debut, But Sebastien Bourdais Repeats at St. Petersburg

Robert Wickens Tremendous in Debut, But Sebastien Bourdais Repeats at St. Petersburg

On Friday, he was still trying to adjust to not being on the track and not seeing his familiar No. 3 making laps.

"To be honest, I felt very comfortable with the pace I had", explained Wickens following the race-ending collision. We adapt. We move on with life. We were going to get a podium today, which was awesome. The three-time Indianapolis 500 victor is known for climbing fences "Spiderman" style after victories.

Helio Castroneves gave the command to start the engines while partially hanging off one of the fences. Nonetheless, it was a great job by the team all weekend.

"But when I saw both of them starting to drift going toward the apex and getting themselves in the marbles, I thought, 'Oh, boy.' And then, sure enough, they both skated off, one spun, the other one recovered, and I was through, and then it went yellow, and that was that. Maybe I should have just taken him out".

"He defended the position, which he has the right to do, but in doing so, in moving the reaction, he put me into the marbles pretty late into the corner", Rossi said.

"Nobody really knew how it was going to shake out, who was going to have what, and we were competitive". Not the place it was when I was in the Champ Car days, but there's some Daytona trophies and Sebring trophies and Road Atlanta's and IndyCar trophies. Same for Jay Howard, who drove for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports a year ago.

19-year-old Brazilian rookie Mattheus Liest surprised a lot of people, as he was the fastest in the first practice session held Friday morning in the number four ABC Supply-sponsored entry from A.J. Foyt Racing. Dale Coyne remembers visiting him in the hospital the day after the crash and hearing his driver definitively tell him he was going to be back in an Indy vehicle for the series finale at Sonoma. Rahal wouldn't mind if the bumping part of qualifying was done on Saturday, the first day, with the pole awarded on Sunday. "I defended it a little bit. I like those conditions a lot", he added.

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James Hinchcliffe, Wickens' teammate at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, finished fourth.

"Sebastien said the mayor is going to name a street after him now because he's won two in a row", Coyne said.

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. After Mikhail Aleshin of Russian Federation had difficulty returning to the US after the 24 Hours of Le Mans last June, the team needed a replacement driver and Hinchcliffe recommended his friend. Wickens slid off course and finished a devastating 18th.

Bourdais' victory is the 37th of his IndyCar career, and it gives him at least one victory in each of the last five seasons now. It led him to a full-time move to IndyCar alongside his old buddy. Wickens got the jump on Rossi, and continued to lead till Max Chilton stalled his auto in turn nine.

"They both wanted it really bad, and I have no idea whose fault it is or if it's just a racing thing", Bourdais said. Bourdais said. "I really try not to leave any room for uncertainty as far as what I was going to do and how forward I was going to go by coming back previous year, 2½ months later". Asked what he said when informed of the messy disaster, Ganassi quipped: "I've got to take a shower".

Then he nearly won the Rolex in January, and cemented his comeback Sunday on his home streets.

A wayward Alexander Rossi challenged for the lead, as was his right to do so, but got loose on the white paint and pitched the Canadian into the wall to the tune of thousands of hearts dropping not just in St Petersburg, but also around the world as spectators witnessed the heartbreak. Other notables were defending Indycar Champion Newgarden starting 13th, last year's St. Pete victor Bourdais in 14th, and 2008 race victor Graham Rahal lining up 24th and last after a spin on the track during the qualifying session.

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