Robert Wickens to make IndyCar debut on pole at St. Pete

IndyCar crew do last minute adjustments to cars before the start of the morning practice session on the first day of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Fla., Friday, March 9, 2018. (Luis Santana/The Tampa Bay Times via AP)


AP Auto Racing Writer

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) In a new car and on a slick racing surface, rookie Robert Wickens snatched the pole away from Will Power for the IndyCar season-opening race through the streets of St. Petersburg.

Power had won seven of the last eight poles for Sunday's race and he shot to the top of the qualifying board with less than a minute left in qualifying session. But Wickens bumped him to second at the buzzer in an upset for the Canadian driver.

Wickens starred in DTM driving for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport with six wins but made the move to IndyCar this year because Mercedes said it was pulling out of the series. Wickens landed at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports as teammate to childhood friend James Hinchcliffe in an all-Canadian lineup.

During Saturday's rainy qualifying session in the IndyCar's redesigned 2018 car, Wickens turned a lap at 1 minute, 01.66 to make an impressive debut.

Power was second and followed by rookie Matheus Leist, rookie Jordan King, Takuma Sato and Ryan Hunter-Reay. The Fast Six was comprised of three rookies, two former series champions and last year's Indianapolis 500 winner. The drivers represented six different race teams, three apiece from Chevrolet and Honda.


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Updated March 10, 2018