Bourdais goes for the hat trick at St. Pete

A repeat in St. Pete?

Sebastien Bourdais

Sebastien Bourdais seemingly had everything going against him in last year’s Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Winless in seven previous attempts in the IndyCar season opener, the 40-year-old France native and St. Pete transplant got off to an inauspicious start in last year’s race on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street course by starting last in the field of 21, the result of running into a bumpered wall during the first lap of qualifying the day prior.

But after that, Bourdais performed like the champion that he is, taking the lead on lap 37 and never looking back. From there, he led the field for 69 of the next 74 laps to take the checkered flag by more than 20 seconds ahead of his closest pursuer, Graham Rahal, and bag his second-consecutive win in the Gulf Coast city.

For Bourdais, it was yet another laurel in a storied career in which he has 37 IndyCar/Champ Car wins, sixth on the all-time list, and four consecutive Champ Car series titles. And he’s only the third driver in IndyCar/Champ Car history to do a worst-to-first performance after Scott Dixon at Mid-Ohio in 2014 and Max Papis at Laguna Seca in ’01.

He comes into this year’s season opener off a 2018 that saw him finish seventh in points, his best showing since 2007, before the IndyCar/Champ Car merger. Sunday, March 10, on NBC Sports Network, he’ll be in his No. 18 Honda for Dale Coyne Racing as he contends with the likes of Dixon, Rahal, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan and Will Power in the 2019 edition of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Sebastien Bourdais

Full name: Sebastien Olivier Bourdais

Birth date: Feb. 28, 1979

Birthplace: Le Mans, France

Height/weight: 5 feet, 9 3/4 inches/152 pounds

Car: No. 18 Honda

Team: Dale Coyne Racing

IndyCar/Champ Car wins: 37

Top 10s: 111

Poles: 34

Honors and achievements: 2004-07 Champ Car series champion; 2002 International Formula 3000 champion; 1999 French Formula Three champion; 2003 CART Rookie of the Year

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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