Driver Power Rankings after St. Petersburg

Driver Power Rankings after St. Petersburg

Wickens, 28, made his first start with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports from the pole at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and led 69 laps, but contact from Alexander Rossi following a restart on Lap 109 cost the Canadian rookie a chance at victory.

"It was a heartbreaking way to end", Wickens said in an interview.

Graham Rahal was second and Alexander Rossi third.

Wickens and Rossi have just under four weeks until they share a race track again.

"I was really happy for Robert and I'm heartbroken for him", Bourdais said. This allowed Sebastien Bourdais to sneak through and steal the victory, with Rossi taking third and a distraught Wickens being left behind in his damaged #6 vehicle. Another fast rookie was Canadian Robert Wickens in the second Schmidt Peterson livery. Wickens was only the third driver since 1993 to win the pole for his IndyCar debut - Nigel Mansell did it in 1993 at Surfers Paradise and Bourdais at St. Pete in 2003 - and the victory would have been a firm announcement of his arrival in the American open-wheel series.

But Rossi tried to pass him in the first turn on the last restart, Wickens wouldn't give an inch, and the two cars touched. The two cars made contact, and Wickens spun off-course. "I defended it a little bit".

"To be honest, I felt very comfortable with the pace I had", explained Wickens following the race-ending collision. "For so long, we both dreamed of being professional race auto drivers".

"We didn't have the fastest vehicle today, but we had consistency to get podium", Bourdais said.

Bourdais now ranks sixth on IndyCar's all-time list, two wins behind Al Unser for fifth. Later that season, he missed eight races as a result of injuries he suffered in a crash during Indianapolis 500 qualifications.

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. 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 past year, 2½ months later".

"No, when I got the verdict on what was broken, and it would heal pretty well, there was never a question in my mind on whether I should continue or stop", he said. "I guess I'm glad I did continue". The team this year has been bolstered by the ownership group of Jimmy Vasser and James Sullivan, which reunited Bourdais with his former bosses and a new sponsor in SealMaster. The other overcame controversy to finish third.

"I'm not quite sure how many entries so far at Indy - 34? 35?"

"Super-unfortunate to see that happen - I feel bad because I think I could have won and he could have been second". "They made it very clear in the drivers' meeting that the rule on blocking was you can't move in reaction".

"I don't know what the series was doing, really", Wickens said.

"Sebastien said the mayor is going to name a street after him now because he's won two in a row", Coyne said. But Rossi was adamant that he didn't err and was justified in racing for the win.

The race debuted IndyCar's sleek new vehicle, created to improve competition, level the playing field and cut costs. He restarted the race 21st.

Even Bourdais, who wept after his win, understood that the race had been Wickens' to win. 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.

If yesterday's first race of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series is an indication of what is to come for the rest of the year, fans and drivers alike are in for a wild, unpredictable roller-coaster of a 2018 season. The Brazilian joked his command might be directed only at the Penske drivers to start their engines.

"It's awesome, and the response of the community, the support, the pulling together from everybody, the sponsors for the Kart4Kids race, the IndyCar community, drivers, sponsors, partners, people in general", Bourdais said of how much the race weekend means to him and the St. Petersburg community.

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