Monday, August 20, 2018
Sports

Grand Prix of St. Petersburg: Sebastien Bourdais wins his hometown race

ST. PETERSBURG

When Sebastien Bourdais rammed into the tires during his first qualifying lap Saturday, he thought he was in for another rough weekend in his adopted hometown.

"Here we go again," Bourdais said. "I just messed up, and it was gone." • Except, finally, it wasn't. • The 38-year-old pulled together a remarkable performance, driving from last to first to win Sunday's Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. An hour after the IndyCar Series season-opening triumph in front of his friends and family, Bourdais was still speechless over how his underfunded Dale Coyne Racing team overcame a horrible start and dominated the sport's powerhouses by leading 69 of the race's 110 laps. Only two drivers in IndyCar history have won while starting farther back — Scott Dixon at Mid-Ohio in 2014 and Max Papis at Laguna Seca in 2001. • "I can't believe I just did that," Bourdais said. • He did it thanks to the good luck that had previously eluded him at his new home track.

Saturday's qualifying error forced him to start last in the 21-car field, but he caught a break when Mikhail Aleshin and Tony Kanaan collided on lap 26. Bourdais pitted three laps earlier; the leaders had not. That let Bourdais' No. 18 Honda jump all the way to second, behind Simon Pagenaud.

"They got a little bit lucky, but you still have to be able to finish it off. …" said Scott Dixon, who finished third.

So perhaps Bourdais was due, given his previous misses at this 1.8-mile, 14-turn street course.

Bourdais won the pole as a rookie at the inaugural Grand Prix in 2003 but dashed his hopes by brushing the wall — a mistake that still bugs him. The France native didn't even get to race when he returned eight years later; his car crashed and caught fire in practice. In Bourdais' five other races here, he had engine problems, a wreck, five finishes outside the top five and zero laps led.

"It just always seemed like there was potential," Bourdais said, "but we never really could put it together."

Until Sunday.

Once he cycled to the top, Bourdais never dropped back. He drove past Pagenaud, the reigning series champion, in Turn 1 to take the lead on lap 37. Bourdais led 69 of the next 74 laps and pulled away to win by more than 20 seconds.

"When everything's right, he's one of those guys that's really hard to touch," Pagenaud said. "Like today."

And like he was in the past.

Bourdais won four consecutive Champ Car titles, from 2004-07. He was talented enough to spend two years in Formula One, and only five drivers in history have more IndyCar victories than Bourdais (36, after Sunday).

That's why team owner Dale Coyne sought out Bourdais, whose previous team — KVSH Racing — folded in the offseason, and why he reunited Bourdais with Craig Hampson, the race engineer for Bourdais' first 31 IndyCar wins.

"The stars finally aligned," Coyne said.

They clearly did Sunday, despite a star-crossed start.

Coyne's strategy put his team in the right position for its fifth series win. Hampson's small-budget car was quick enough to outrun powerhouses Team Penske (Pagenaud), Chip Ganassi Racing (Scott Dixon) and Andretti Autosport (fourth-place finisher Ryan Hunter-Reay).

And a former champion was in the cockpit, ready to take advantage of it all.

"It was just one of those days like the old days," Bourdais said.

Except, finally, it happened at home.

Contact Matt Baker at [email protected] Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

     
           
Comments
Florida State football getting closer to naming starting quarterback, Willie Taggart says

Florida State football getting closer to naming starting quarterback, Willie Taggart says

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State coach Willie Taggart isn't ready to announce who will start at quarterback when the Seminoles open against Virginia Tech in two weeks.But a decision is getting closer."How close? Closer than we were the first da...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays journal: Sergio Romo extremely thankful for career save No. 100

Rays journal: Sergio Romo extremely thankful for career save No. 100

BOSTON — Sergio Romo tries — though not always successfully — to keep his emotions in check on the mound. You kind of have to in logging 100 career saves, the milestone he reached in Sunday's 2-0 win over the Red Sox.But walking int...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Sports on TV/radio for Monday, August 20

TODAYBaseballRoyals at Rays7 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMCardinals at Dodgers10 p.m.MLBBaseball, youth leagueAmerican Legion World Series4 p.m.ESPNUAmerican Legion World Series7 p.m.ESPNUBaseball, Little League World SeriesElimination game11 a.m.ESPNEliminati...
Updated: 9 hours ago
DeCalon Brooks ready to make a name for himself at Florida State

DeCalon Brooks ready to make a name for himself at Florida State

TALLAHASSEE — DeCalon Brooks doesn't only want to be known as Derrick Brooks' son.Yes, he plays the same position (linebacker) at the same school (Florida State) where his father won a national title in 1993 before becoming a Bucs legend a...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Nothing is going to stand in way of Peyton Barber and his goal to be Bucs’ starting running back

Nothing is going to stand in way of Peyton Barber and his goal to be Bucs’ starting running back

TAMPA – Ask Peyton Barber his approach to training camp or preseason games, and his answer is meant to bull over the questioner as if it's all that's standing between him and the goal line."I think the end-all goal for me is to be the star...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Manager Kevin Cash always gives the credit for success to the players, but his deft handling of the bullpen Sunday was illustrative of how well his planning and decision-making can work when the pitches are executed and the plays are made.INF Joey We...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Jalen Beeks shines for Rays in winning return to Boston

Jalen Beeks shines for Rays in winning return to Boston

BOSTON — Jalen Beeks called it a complicated question.Then he gave a convoluted answer.Just what, he was asked after leading the Rays to a 2-0 win Sunday over the Red Sox, did it mean to come back to Fenway Park for the first time and beat...
Published: 08/19/18
Bucs claim defensive tackle Adam Reth off waivers from the Eagles

Bucs claim defensive tackle Adam Reth off waivers from the Eagles

Facing a critical shortage of interior defensive linemen, the Bucs on Sunday claimed Eagles defensive tackle Adam Reth off waivers. To make room for Reth, the Bucs waived/injured defensive tackle Drew Iddings, who joined the team last week.With both ...
Published: 08/19/18
Rays finish trip with 2-0 shutout of Red Sox

Rays finish trip with 2-0 shutout of Red Sox

BOSTON – The Rays always seem to find a way to make things interesting.Sunday, they did so by shutting down and shutting out the majors-best Red Sox in a 2-0 matinee win to cap a winning three-city road trip.Five Rays pitchers combined to blank...
Published: 08/19/18
NFL preseason update: How some former Bulls fared in Week 2

NFL preseason update: How some former Bulls fared in Week 2

A look at how some former USF standouts performed in Week Two of the NFL preseason:RB Quinton Flowers, BengalsWeek One (vs. Bears): One carry, 6 yardsWeek Two (vs. Cowboys): No statsLB Nigel Harris, BucsWeek One (vs. Dolphins): Three tackles (two sol...
Published: 08/19/18