Sebastien Bourdais wins IndyCar opener at St. Petersburg

A tearful Bourdais explained in the victory circle just how much this meant. "We're working together great with Honda".

Bourdais also brought with him Olivier Boisson, who was Bourdais' engineer at KVSH Racing the last several seasons. It marked the first time Bourdais led his hometown race since the inaugural Grand Prix, in 2003.

Bourdais continued to extend his lead and ran unchallenged to the checkered flag. Team Penske was seeking its fourth consecutive victory in the event, and a problem in qualifying meant Bourdais started last in the 21-car field. "The [passing] windows are super narrow and it's hard to pass", he said. "We can do very little things, but I think engine development as well as how you try and use the auto and the package, I think today is a result that we are really coming back in strong".

"Up until today's practice, I was still a little bit nervous and didn't get confident in the vehicle", said Sato. To turn that result from yesterday into today, it's unbelievable.

Six laps later, St. Petersburg resident Bourdais passed his countryman in Turn 1, taking his first lead at St. Pete since his first Indy vehicle race in 2003. It was the fifth career win for the Coyne team.

"From last to first is about all you can do", Coyne said.

Bourdais led 69 of the 110 laps and finished 10 seconds ahead of fellow Frenchman Simon Pagenaud.

"He was untouchable", Pagenaud said.

The 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion's fastest lap in the shootout, a 61.0640sec lap of the 1.8-mile course, beat Scott Dixon's Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda by 0.1579sec, which in turn edged James Hinchcliffe's Schmidt Peterson Motorsports-Honda by a mere 0.082sec. Hunter-Reay's Andretti Autosport teammate, Takuma Sato (No. 26 Honda), scored a top-five finish in his debut with the team. He was part of the class victory in January at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, and heads to Sebring next weekend looking for another sports auto win.

  • Julie Sanders