Marcha 23, 2018

Alexander Rossi Finishes 3rd in IndyCar Season Opener After Close Call

15 Marcha 2018, 12:52 | Gerardo Tarin

Sebastien Bourdais wins hometown Grand Prix of St. Petersburg again

Late Crash Gives Bourdais Victory In St. Petersburg

Not only did Robert Wickens capture the pole position at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in Florida, but he nearly won Sunday's race after leading for 69 laps. 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.

Power praised the series' new vehicle, though.

He is part of an all-Canadian lineup at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, and he and Hinchcliffe were strong the entire weekend.

The Verizon IndyCar Series drivers and fans will now have some time to catch their breath before the next race. Another rookie, Jordan King, in the Ed Carpenter Racing entry, finished the session in fourth.

"We ended up qualifying poorly".

Rossi was firm in that he did nothing wrong, but understood Wickens would be upset. If you look at his two years in Indy Lights, each half-season he got better and better. With just a handful of laps remaining, Rossi enjoyed a good run on Wickens down to Turn 1, enticing him to dive up the inside of the Brit, but the Andretti driver lost his rear end and wiped out his rival on the spot.

"This one's emotional because we had to overcome a few bumps, rolls and a ball of fire", said Bourdais, referring to his crash at Indianapolis and the trying times which followed for the Frenchman.

Last year's champion of the Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda, Kirkwood ran away with race 1 after starting on the pole, and drove a quiet but solid Race 2 to finish fifth.

Sebastien Bourdais wrapped up his second consecutive victory at St. Petersburg, a milestone in his recovery from serious injuries suffered in a crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway previous year.

When the green flag fell on Sunday, Wickens held the lead into the first three turns as he battled with Power, who spun out and brushed the wall. After the Power spin, Tony Kanaan spun in an incident with Zach Veach that was reviewed. But both of us were confused at the start because the green came so early, so everyone passed us.

The Sealmaster auto was brought back into contention following a spin by Chilton causing the field to bunch under caution, and then the Wickens/Rossi clash on the penultimate lap allowed Bourdais to duck through to claim the 37 win of his career, and his second straight at St. Petersburg.

Across the paddock, Robert Wickens fumed at the disastrous turn of events that cost him a victory in his IndyCar debut. I don't know any other way. The final restart came with two laps left, when Rossi charged for the lead. The whole day was going better than I could have ever anticipated for my first day in IndyCar.

He's right; Sebastien Bourdais started last in 2017 and won, and Rahal came from behind to win the Grand Prix in 2008.

Will Power started on the front row as usual but didn't stay out front long.

Rossi was within a second of Wickens late but tried too hard to make up ground with 12 to go. Then, four laps later, Max Chilton spun, stalled, and after officials restarted his vehicle, they made a decision to do a lap of caution, which brought Rossi right back into contention.

He also said there was confusion on the restart because the pace car's lights didn't shut off before it pulled off the track.

Glory for Bourdais was heartbreak for Robert Wickens, who was the lap-leader with 69 as the 28-year old rookie was within two laps of winning before contact by Alexander Rossi sent Wickens into the barrier and caused him to finish in 18th place.

Rossi was not penalized for the contact and believed he had done nothing wrong. Officials deemed the move a non call, which was the correct call to make in this situation.

Bourdais, meanwhile, had positioned himself to capitalize when Wickens and Rossi went haywire.

Instead the win went to Bourdais, who led 30 laps, second only to Wickens, and was in position to pounce when the opportunity developed. Former series and Indy 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay had trouble accelerating.

Bourdais slid by both cars from third for the victory.

The Verizon IndyCar Series resumes Saturday night, April 7, with the Phoenix Grand Prix at ISM Raceway. Their coverage is just lacking.

To numerous tens of thousands of people who saw him slam viciously into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway wall during qualifying for last year's Indianapolis 500, his career should have been over right then.

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

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