Driver Power Rankings after St. Petersburg

Wickens and Leist jumped forward in the Fast Six as the clock wound to zero and for the Brazilian teenager the result was a definite surprise

Sebastien Bourdais took the lead when race-leader Robert Wickens was wrecked by second-place Alexander Rossi just in front of him after a restart with two laps to go and went on to win Sunday's season-opener on the street circuit in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Bourdais inherited the lead with two laps left when Alexander Rossi nudged leader Robert Wickens going into turn 1.

Ten months after a massive crash in qualifying for the Indy 500 left him confined to a hospital bed for several months, Sébastien Bourdais was back with a vengence in IndyCar, albeit a lucky one.

The pair, who had been the leading duo for a vast majority of Sunday's 110-lap race, made contact at turn one on a race restart with just two laps to go.

"I made the corner and then we had some contact, and obviously it put me into a spin into the wall", Wickens said.

Sebastien Bourdais wept as he crossed the finish line Sunday for his second consecutive victory at St. Petersburg.

It was rather a matter of how fast he could get back in a auto. So I've known him a long time.

But a fiery accident that caused a broken pelvis and a broken hip can change a driver's mentality no matter how determined he was to race again, so it was reasonable to wonder: Would Bourdais be the same driver? ABC's coverage of St. Pete started 10 minutes before the green, and due to the length of the race only the victor was interviewed.

"I was very emotional in the vehicle".

"When I got the verdict of what was broken and I was going to heal pretty well, it was never a question on whether I should continue or stop", the 39-year-old Frenchman said. I would have backed out if I knew he was going to do that. "Is he this? Is he this?"

To bring back a phrase that was used very often in 2018, across all three Mazda Road to Indy Series, Rinus VeeKay had the broom out at St. Petersburg, winning both Pro Mazda races to seize early control of the championship.

"It's been bumpy, it's been tough, it's been everything in between".

"You might as well start last", Rahal said.

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Wickens, who had a lengthy meeting with Verizon IndyCar Series officials after the race, disagreed with Rossi's assessment of the incident, saying he was uncertain if the race was being restarted because the flashing lights on the pace vehicle weren't turned off as is customary on the final caution lap before a restart. But there's no reason why I can't pop and stay next to him. There's really no other explanation to it. "Frankly, I'm more than pleased to be on the podium". In my mind, both drivers gave fair assessments of the incident and the decision to not penalise either Wickens or Rossi can only be respected and accepted by both camps.

Castroneves was moved by Team Penske this year from IndyCar to its new sports vehicle program, but he will race in the Indy 500 in May. Although he was one of seven rookies in the 24-car field Sunday, he is 28 and a proven victor.

James Hinchcliffe, Wickens' teammate at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, finished fourth. Although he was one of seven rookies in the 24-car field Sunday, he is 28 and a proven victor. A slip could've also cost Rossi his chance at contending, if not for a late caution that closed the distance between him and Wickens.

Wickens' auto was disabled. The other overcame controversy to finish third.

"I feel bad because I feel like I could have won and he could have gotten second", Rossi said.

"But, for us, it's such an upset, I can't quite put it into words".

"I opted to go karting instead of playing hockey."

Although Rossi hadn't spoken to Wickens immediately after the race, he said he meant to. Wickens, not happy with the move, understood Rossi's aggressiveness in the situation. Bourdais trails Al Unser by two wins for fifth on the list.

Other notables were defending Indycar Champion Newgarden starting 13th, last year's St. Pete victor Bourdais in 14th, and 2008 race victor Graham Rahal lining up 24th and last after a spin on the track during the qualifying session. The team this year has been bolstered by the ownership group of Jimmy Vasser and James Sullivan, which reunited Bourdais with his former bosses. In a rehabilitation center and stitched together as the Indy 500 went on without him, Bourdais vowed to get his vehicle back before the end of the season.

Not being part of the IndyCar opener was hard for Castroneves, who found himself with odd idle time at the racetrack.

Then he nearly won the Rolex in January, and cemented his comeback Sunday on his home streets.

"I really tried not to leave any room for uncertainty as far as what I was going to do ... but it's been bumpy". I felt like it was a little bit easier to make some passes today if need be. This is my life. But like I said, I think this is the first of many great races. "This is a great way to start".

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