Honda-powered drivers swept the podium and earned eight of the top 10 positions in the field as the Verizon IndyCar Series’ engine wars got under way in St. Petersburg.
Chevy certainly had its chances to spoil the Honda party that put Sebastien Bourdais in Victory Lane along with Graham Rahal and Alexander Rossi. But early contact for front-row starter Will Power from Team Penske and a variety of maladies for other Bowtie contenders ensured the 2.2-liter twin-turbo V6 engines produced by Honda Performance Development in California won the first battle.
“That was a great way to start the season!” said HPD president Art St. Cyr. “It’s always nice to see all the hard work put in by the HPD associates rewarded after a very busy off-season. Congratulations to Sebastien Bourdais for his repeat victory at his hometown event; to the Dale Coyne organization, and to new Honda team co-owners Jimmy Vasser and James Sullivan. Also, congratulations to Graham for his run from last at the start to second at the checkers.”
St. Cyr extended his sympathies for polesitter Robert Wickens, who lost out on a chance at scoring a debut win after an unsuccessful passing attempt by Rossi ended his day.
“I feel bad for Robbie [Wickens] after such a dominant performance,” he said. “He clearly proved that he and the entire Schmidt Peterson Motorsports group are going to be a force to be reckoned with going forward.”
Penske’s Josef Newgarden rallied from a 13th-place starting position to take seventh, which led all Chevy runners.
“It was a messy P7 but for us it was a good top 10,” said the defending series champion. “It’s a decent start to the year. We had a great Chevy package – it’s just sad we couldn’t take better advantage of it. I felt we had really good power today from Chevrolet. The Hitachi car, overall, was pretty strong. We were just fighting all day to catch back up and we were on the wrong end on the fuel mileage and getting run into and cutting the tire didn’t help us. But I think if a couple of things would’ve gone differently, I really think a podium finish was in the cards for today.”