St. Pete IndyCar Race Review: A Real Stinker

The Firestone Grand Prix at times smelled like a tire fire.


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Frenchmen swept the top two spots at St. Pete Sunday, as Sebastien Bourdais bested defending champ Simon Pagenaud in a result no one foresaw, much less foresmelled. Charging all the way from last place, it was Bourdais’ thirty sixth major open wheel victory of his storied career, and it smelled of feet. By all accounts, SeBass was able to avoid embarrassing himself by not dropping the trophy again from atop the podium. It was his first win since Detroit 1 last June and added to other recent renaissance wins including Milwaukee.


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While the racing on the newly repaved circuit had its moments, particularly during the start and restart, on the whole it still stunk like week old French cheese. St. Pete’s a ramshackle temporary street course, on top of which Mark “Stink” Schlereth acted as Grand Marshall, so what’d you expect?


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Bestwicke, Goodyear and Cheever provided their usual Mickey Mouse coverage, largely juvenile and smelly, at best. ABC unveiled its first bit of much heralded “new technology” during pre-race,  the so called predictive analytics system. It was a colossal stink bomb and we could’ve saved Disney a bunch of money on that Duesie. Also portrayed as “new” was the visor cam, which did at least work though really wasn’t fresh to fans of fast at all. We definitely smell a rat.


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Our first lap pileup prediction – without any analytics system, mind you – came true when deep in the field Ganassi’s Charlie “bumper cars” Kimball banged into Ragin’ Graham Rahal, who spun and then stalled in turn three. Carlos “OK” Munoz and J.R “wallbanger” Hildebrand – both making their debuts for new teams – were also caught up in the pungent melee.

The second caution – also emanating from turn three – came on lap twenty when Tony “surely this is his final year” Kanaan rudely chopped Russian Mikhail Aleshin with the chrome sidepod. TK’s actions seemed especially provocative in light of already elevated tensions with the Russians, but as with the first yellow no penalties were forthcoming.


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In fact only three infractions were called and they were for obvious, yet telling incidents, such as Power running over his air hose. The rarely penalized Penske pilot was given a drive through, making little difference in the end as that stinkin’ Power advanced all the way back into the top three before encountering mechanical issues and finishing nineteenth. Considering his comeback though, perhaps it’s time for race control to reconsider such a minor slap on the wrist of a sanction. It’s putrid.

Rookie Ed “too small” Jones battled and then passed Marco (speaking of stink) before fading toward the end and finishing tenth in his first ever race for Coyne. Canadian James Hinchcliffe was quick all weekend, smelling like roses and leading for the first portion, but he also faltered amidst the wafting waterfront odors to finish ninth.


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The Frenchmen took over from there, with Pags and Bourdais out front and up wind the rest of the day. Due to fuel strategy and a lot of street course luck, Bourdais came out on top, edging our pick Pagenaud by over ten seconds. During post-race Pags said of Bourdais, “he was untouchable.” Scoring another win for Dale Coyne Racing, SeBass’ signing looks to be the sweetest of silly season, and with an astonishing upset the year just got a little more aromatic. Maybe 2017 won’t be such a stinker after all.


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