IndyCar rookie Robert Wickens, who started on pole, led the race for 69 laps and had the win in his grip until contact with Alexander Rossi on a restart took him out of contention, Associated Press reports. This now ranks the four-time champion sixth on the all-time winners list.
Bourdais won because newcomer rookie Robert Wickens, in his IndyCar debut, lost.
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. 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. I thought we would have had a good fight.
"But, for us, it's such an upset, I can't quite put it into words".
"I was so close to kind of doing the impossible in my first race in IndyCar - picking up the pole position and the win and leading the most laps."
The three-time Indianapolis 500 victor who started in the series in 1998 will be back in an Indy vehicle in May when he goes for a record-tying fourth victory at the showcase race.
But on the restart, Rossi attempted to put his #27 Andretti Autosport Honda inside of Wickens heading into Turn 1 at the end of the Albert Whitted Airport runway straight, but Rossi's auto slid wide and the two made contact.
The Sealmaster vehicle was brought back into contention following a spin by Chilton causing the field to bunch under caution, and then the Wickens/Rossi clash on the penultimate lap allowed Bourdais to duck through to claim the 37 win of his career, and his second straight at St. Petersburg. I went very late on the brakes, and he tried to stay beside me, but the track is so dirty on the inside he couldn't keep the line and just slid into me.
Indycar has a lot of momentum to start off the 2018 season and going into their next race in Phoenix in about a month.
"It's a shame. Everyone on the Lucas Oil team and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports did a fantastic job today".
"It would have been a fairy tale to finish that well, but sometimes it's just not meant to be", Wickens said. Rahal, who started last would finish second, Rossi was third. It's hard with these cars and with how much we're sliding around in the first place, even on the racing line.
"We're very excited about (winning)", Coyne said, before turning to Bourdais and adding with a laugh, "Did you say you were 39?" Wickens slid off course and finished a devastating 18th. I think you get the questions from people - 'Is he going to be the same, is he going to come back, is he this, is he this?' If he defended the inside. and then I continued to go to the inside down the white line, then, yeah, that's my decision and that's putting my vehicle in danger. Before his wreck with Wickens, Alexander Rossi had looked strong all day in the No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda.
"I do think he handled himself with class, but I'd like to see some rivalries", he continued.
Although he's a spectator this weekend, Power said it felt like Castroneves was still part of the team. "I had a big jump on Rob, and he got to the push-to-pass pretty late". When you're put in the marbles, it's hairy. "I feel bad because I feel like I could have won and he could have gotten second".
"I looked up and saw marbles (off the racing line) and decided this wasn't going to work", said Rahal, driving the No. 15 United Rentals Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
The top six finishers which included James Hinchliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Dixon all used Honda engines.
There was some consternation about the rookies in the field, particularly three at the front at the start of the race, because of the potential for a messy start. There were five caution periods in the first 40 laps of the race as drivers adjusted to the lower downforce levels of the universal aero kit on all cars racing for the first time.