ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — In a new car and on a slick racing surface, rookie Robert Wickens snatched the pole away from Will Power for IndyCar’s season-opening race through the streets of St. Petersburg.
Power had won seven of the past eight poles for Sunday’s race, and he shot to the top of the board with less than a minute left in the final 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 series’ redesigned 2018 car, Wickens turned a lap at 1 minute, 1.66 seconds 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 consisted of three rookies, two former series champions and last year’s Indianapolis 500 winner. The drivers represented six race teams, three apiece from Chevrolet and Honda.