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.
Bourdais had been a podium contender for most of the Grand Prix, but several yellow flags and pit stop rotations made him dial back the pace in order to conserve fuel and nurse the tires. It wasn't until Max Chilton stalled his racing machine halfway through the circuit and the safety car was deployed once again that Bourdais was given the go-ahead from the pit wall. At this point, Bourdais sat in third place with Andretti Autosport's Alexander Rossi in second, and IndyCar rookie Robert Wickens in first.
Wickens, who was having a glorious start to his IndyCar career with a pole position on Saturday and leading more than 50 laps on Sunday, was driving in a calm and collected manner despite having the 2016 Indianapolis 500 champion breathing down his neck. The former DTM Mercedes-AMG factory driver, like Bourdais, did everything right every single lap, but his dream of winning his maiden IndyCar race was crushed when Rossi ran wide during a restart, lost the rear end, and side-swiped Wickens sending him straight into the wall. With just two laps left, it was all over for him and Rossi, but it was Bourdais' time to shine.
An emotional Bourdais could be seen stepping out of the car after the race as this marks his first victory (and second in a row at St. Pete) after making a full recovery from his near-death crash at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last summer.