St. Petersburg, Fla – He didn’t know it then, but that crash in qualifying on Saturday ended up being a blessing in disguise for Sebastien Bourdais. The St. Pete native was forced to start 21st, last, in Sunday’s Verizon IndyCar Series season opener, which as weird as this sounds, worked to his advantage.
By starting back there, he missed the opening lap crash between Graham Rahal, Mikhail Aleshin, Charlie Kimball and Carlos Munoz. Also by starting back there, he was able to go off sequence early and benefit from the second and final caution of the day on Lap 25.
When the leaders pit on Lap 26, Bourdais would move all the way up to second. 10 laps later, he was in the lead. From there, he would work pit strategy brilliantly en route to his 36th career IndyCar victory.
Bourdais, came from last to first.
It was the first time that this feat has happened since Scott Dixon did it at Mid-Ohio in 2014. It’s the third furthest a winner has come from a starting position on a road/street circuit as only Dixon and Max Papis (2001 Laguna Seca-25th) are the only other two to come further.
That and his move to Dale Coyne Racing and winning his first race back there had Bourdais very emotional in victory lane on Sunday.
He’d lead a race-high 69 of the 110 laps today.
The defending series champ Simon Pagenaud would also capitalize by virtue of that Lap 25 caution and come home runner-up for a second straight year at St. Pete. It was also his fourth straight top five and fifth top six in six St. Pete tries.
Pagenaud, started 14th and move up to the top 10 quickly. He went into fuel saving move for most of the race and brought his No. 1 Chevrolet home second.
Scott Dixon had an up-and-down race en route to his third place finish. It was his 90th career podium and 132nd top five, tying Helio Castroneves for sixth all-time in both categories.
Out of four practice sessions this weekend, Dixon was quickest in three of them. He was third in the other and qualified second for today’s race.
Despite not winning, it was a stellar weekend for Dixon.
Ryan Hunter-Reay had a complete opposite weekend getting into the wall in qualifying on Saturday, crashing in Turn 10 in this morning’s warmup and dealing with an electrical problem at the start of today’s race but there he was in the fourth finishing position in his No. 28 Honda.
Hunter-Reay’s teammate Takuma Sato led two laps today and rounded out the top five.
Honda’s led 92 of the 110 laps today and took four of the top five finishing spots. They also had nine cars in the top 12.
Today’s race only saw two cautions, both in the first 25 laps.
Next, the series heads west to Long Beach on April 9 (4 pm ET/NBCSN/INDYCAR Radio Network).
Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete Results:
- 18 Bourdais
- 1 Pagenaud
- 9 Dixon
- 28 Hunter-Reay
- 26 Sato
- 3 Castroneves
- 27 Andretti
- 2 Newgarden
- 5 Hinchcliffe
- 19 Jones R
- 98 Rossi -1
- 10 Kanaan -1
- 21 Hildebrand -1
- 7 Aleshin -1
- 4 Daly -1
- 8 Chilton -1
- 15 Rahal -2
- 83 Kimball -5
- 12 Power OUT
- 20 Pigot OUT
- 14 Munoz OUT