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

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

The trailing distance has been reduced and the downforce is generated from bottom of the auto. Wickens will make his IndyCar debut on Sunday at St. Pete for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in an all-Canadian lineup. Three-time Indianapolis 500 victor Helio Castroneves was bounced to sports cars as Roger Penske made his lineup younger, and even though Castroneves will race at Indy in May, he wants back in the series and wasn't pleased to be a spectator Sunday.

Up ahead, the new kids in town were having a field day at the first restart as Wickens led from Ed Carpenter Racing's Jordan King and Foyt's Matheus Leist. But Rossi was adamant that he didn't err and was justified in racing for the win. Power lined up second with the blazingly fast Liest, King, and Takuma Sato rounding out the top five.

Three-time St. Petersburg victor Helio Castroneves, this year's grand marshal, gave the call for drivers to start their engines in what quickly became an eventful race on the shores of Tampa Bay.

Anticipation was high as we were given our first idea of the potential pecking order for the season, but a lottery of a qualifying session gave us a result no one expected and was backed up by an enthralling race which could have been won by a number of drivers, but none were deserving than one man.

But on the restart, Rossi attempted to put his #27 Andretti Autosport Honda inside of Wickens heading into Turn 1 at the end of the Albert Whitted Airport runway straight, but Rossi's auto slid wide and the two made contact. Power was able to recover, and change his rear wing after the yellow came out just a few laps into race due to a spinning Tony Kanaan.

As he pulled down pit road late Sunday on the streets of St. Petersburg, about to begin celebrating his second victory in his adopted hometown in two years, the emotion overwhelmed him.

The race was full of action that saw Liest find the wall, and rookie Jack Harvey do the same. But like I said, I think this is the first of many great races.

I hesitate to apply the title of rookie to Robert Wickens.

Although Tracy was impressed by the class Wickens displayed after losing a race he dominated from pole position, he's hoping for some interpersonal drama to build - akin to what PT had with Sebastien Bourdais in Champ Car. "I feel bad because I feel like I could have won and he could have gotten second".

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


Starting ninth on the grid, Dixon was penalised early in the 110-lap race for running into the back of Takuma Sato's auto.

"I had a big jump on Rob, and he got to the Push-to-Pass pretty late", Rossi explained. Rossi continued, but Bourdais inherited the victory and Rahal also sneaked through. Alexander Rossi survived disputed contact with two laps remaining to finish third. Officials deemed the move a non call, which was the correct call to make in this situation. Rossi was just far enough up alongside Wickens for it to be labelled as such. Bourdais' victory is the sixth in the history Dale Coyne Racing and the fifth for Bourdais in cars entered by the co-owners Jimmy Vasser and James Sullivan. This proved crucial in enabling the four-time champion to lead a total of 30 laps and hold down a legitimate third place in the closing stages - albeit with no answer to the pace of Alexander Rossi and leader Robert Wickens.

Ryan Hunter-Reay also had to go immediately to pit road when his vehicle wouldn't accelerate at the start of the race.

The win, his second straight at St. Pete, caps a comeback after a horrendous crash at Indianapolis last May.

"I just felt like I was in a good zone today".

Of the 24 entries in Sunday's race, seven are considered rookies. He'll be too rattled, too squeamish to ever tackle the dangers of the Verizon IndyCar Series with the reckless abandon required to succeed in the sport. Fast rookies, sleek cars, lower downforce, and cars that put control back into the drivers hands. Aside from more horsepower, Indycar's only crutch is their TV coverage.

Of course, there was a bit of luck involved with Sunday's win, Bourdais and team owner Dale Coyne both agreed.

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. Their coverage is just lacking.

"I didn't get the best restart in the world, but that didn't really matter", said Wickens, who ended being classified 16th.

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