News St. Pete IndyCar: Wickens grabs amazing debut pole in damp session
Sebastien Bourdais wins a dramatic IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
A heated second-to-last-lap collision between Rossi and Wickens inherited Bourdais the victory.Sebastien Bourdais of Dale Coyne Racing made the trip to the top step of the podium at the IndyCar season-opening race in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Frenchman played all his cards right as the race unfolded before his eyes and made the necessary moves to be at the right place at the right time by the end of the race.
Robert Wickens grabbed a stunning pole position for his Verizon IndyCar Series debut on a damp but drying St. Petersburg track, beating Team Penske’s Will Power and another rookie, Matheus Leist of AJ Foyt Racing.
Wickens lapped the 1.8-mile runway/street course in 61.6643sec, his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports-Honda edging seven-time St. Pete polesitter Power by 0.0703sec.
Wickens was initially bottled up behind a tentative Power as the shootout began, but neither made any significant errors once they separated themselves and as the track dried, they each got to within two seconds of the typical dry-lap time here, with the Canadian earning pole with his final lap.
Fittipaldi 'up to speed' for IndyCar debut
Pietro Fittipaldi, who will make his IndyCar race debut at Phoenix’s ISM Raceway this weekend, says he’s “excited” at the prospect because he believes he and Dale Coyne Racing are well prepared. The first oval race of the IndyCar season is not only Fittipaldi’s first open-wheel oval race but his IndyCar debut. The grandson of Emerson Fittipaldi – who won the Phoenix Indy car race in 1994 – is this year sharing the #19 Dale Coyne Racing-Honda with Indy Lights graduate Zachary Claman De Melo, who raced in IndyCar’s season-opener at St. Pete.
Barely less impressive was Matheus Leist who avoided drama, relied on great car control and earned an amazing third place for AJ Foyt Racing on his IndyCar debut. Another rookie – Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet rookie Jordan King – clocked fourth fastest after an impressive day for Ed Carpenter Racing, beating two stars in the wet, Takuma Sato in the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda, and Ryan Hunter-Reay in Andretti Autosport-Honda.
It was in Q2 that the rain that was starting to sprinkle in Q1 came down harder. Wickens took full advantage to nail an early lap on reds and top the group, with Power a close second. Sato spun at Turn 1 but was able to continue and ultimately made it into the Firestone Fast Six.
Ganassi’s Scott Dixon half-spun at Turn 1 and as he rejoined the track, he obstructed James Hinchcliffe but the incident went unpunished. Neither advanced, and will start ninth and seventh respectively, separated by the Harding Racing-Chevrolet of Gabby Chaves – a remarkable performance for a team starting only its fourth race.
Phoenix IndyCar: Bourdais beats Penske aces to pole position
Sebastien Bourdais scored the 34th pole position of his career.Due to IndyCar’s oval qualifying order this year being decided by entrant points, rather than blind draw, St. Petersburg winner Bourdais ran 23rd and last and that helped him to narrowly eclipse Pagenaud’s superb early (11th) run. The DCR with Vasser-Sullivan car ran a brilliantly consistent 188.644 and 188.434 to average 188.539mph.
Penske’s Simon Pagenaud was another Turn 1 spinner – three times – and the third was the one that saw him stall and end the Q2 session with a red flag. That deleted his two fastest laps and consigned him to 12th on the grid. Alexander Rossi’s name was deleted from the Fast Six for qualifying interference which allowed Andretti Autosport teammate Hunter-Reay through.
Pagenaud’s teammate, the reigning IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden was the shock exclusion from Q1 Group 1, sliding wide on his decisive lap, while the second group saw Graham Rahal spin exiting Turn 10 on his first lap on the alternate compound. That brought out the red flag and cost him his two best laps.
Another driver to lose his two best laps from that session was Marco Andretti, who got through to the Top 12, but was then penalized for interference with the second Ed Carpenter car of Spencer Pigot. That gave Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing some hope as it allowed Sato into the top dozen from where he made it to the Fast Six.
The Latest: Wickens builds big lead at IndyCar Grand Prix .
Rookie Robert Wickens assumed the lead on Lap 26 as drivers cycled through the first round of pit stops at the IndyCar Grand Prix. Wickens led pole winner Will Power by 1.6841 seconds through 46 laps of the 85-lap race. Power has won the race twice _ both from the pole. Team Penske has won all four previous races on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn course and that streak that could be in serious jeopardy. Wickens, of Canada, drives for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.American Graham Rahal was third, more than 2.6 seconds off the pace.A record-tying seven different drivers have led the race. The previous mark was set in the inaugural 2014 grand prix.___4 p.m.
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