Robert Wickens continues to lead IndyCar race at St. Pete


Will be updated. With AP Photos.

The 2018 IndyCar season began on Sunday with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Wickens had the race in hand after Alexander Rossi over drove into a corner trying to catch up to him, a move that cost Rossi two seconds. They placed two drivers in the top 10, but their three drivers - Josef Newgarden, Will Power, and Simon Pagenaud - didn't manage to lead a single lap over the course of the race. Bourdais slid by both cars for the victory.

It also brings full circle Bourdais' recovery from a fractured pelvis and hip sustained in a frightening crash during qualifying at last year's Indianapolis 500.

Will Power spun in the second turn as he raced rookie Robert Wickens for the lead. He dominated the season-opening event and had the win in his grip until contact with Alexander Rossi on a restart took him out of contention. "It would've been a fairytale to finish that one out, but sometimes it's not meant to be".

Canadian driver Robert Wickens leads the race after 45 of the 110-laps.

Even Bourdais, overcome with emotion after winning again on his hometown track, understood that the race had been Wickens' to win. Although he was one of seven rookies in the 24-car field Sunday, he is 28 and a proven victor. Wickens is one of seven rookies in the 24-driver field but is actually a star in the European touring series he left to try America's open-wheel series.

Instead, two late cautions gave Rossi a chance to take it away.

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"I didn't get the best restart in the world, but that didn't really matter", said Wickens, who ended being classified 16th. He made a mistake on the inside and I guess he just couldn't keep it, and just slid into me.

Rossi was not penalized for the contact and finished third. Made the [pass attempt], 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.

The American, who recently appeared on the reality TV show "The Amazing Race", said he had not spoken to Wickens but imagined that Wickens was upset with him.

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.

Wickens said he wanted to speak to series officials because he said the pace auto procedure differed on the final restart from the previous one, and he didn't feel he was in control of the field.

"We didn't have the fastest vehicle today, but we had consistency to get podium", Bourdais said. Heading down into Turn 1, I knew there wasn't going to be many other opportunities for me because he'd had a very good vehicle all day and they did a great job.

"If he'd defended the inside initially out of 14 or even halfway down the straight, and I'd still continued to go to the inside, then yeah, that's my decision to put my vehicle in danger". Asked if his goose was cooked as soon as he hit the brake pedal, Rossi replied: "My goose was totally rare until he continued to move in the braking zone and put me more into the marbles". This now ranks the four-time champion sixth on the all-time winners list. Bourdais trails Al Unser by two wins for fifth on the list. The team this year has been bolstered by the ownership group of Jimmy Vasser and James Sullivan, which reunited Bourdais with his former bosses. He finished 18th. It's taken the 28-year-old a long time to get to this level and he looked like he belonged at St. Petersburg, but the result hurts.