Rookie Wickens has the pole for St. Pete Grand Prix

by Gary Shelton on March 11, 2018 · 0 comments

in general, Racing

IndyCar rookie #6 Robert Wickens won pole position./ANDREW J. KRAMER

IndyCar rookie #6 Robert Wickens won pole position./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Sunday, 2 a.m.

As young as he is, rookie Robert Wickens is the man to beat in today's St. Petersburg Grand Prix.

Wickens, 28, was one of three drivers to take the top four positions going into today's race. Will Power, who has won the pole seven times in his career, will start second.

"I mean, I think the 2018 package is one less disadvantage for a rookie; know what I mean?” said Wickens. “I can’t speak for the other rookies, but for me I’ve never been to St. Pete, something where Will Power has had, what, seven poles here. So I mean, how can you kind of compare that?”

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Rodrigo Baptista & Martin Fuentes on the podium after the GTA race 1//ANDREW J. KRAMER

Rodrigo Baptista & Martin Fuentes on the podium after the GTA race 1//ANDREW J. KRAMER

Wickens said he can go faster.

"I didn't feel that good actually in practice today," Wickens said. "We kind of made some changes overnight that didn't do what we hoped it would, so we kind of had to go back to our car from Friday. And Friday I was really happy with the car. I was in the top 10 both sessions, sixth and seventh in the two respectively, and I thought I left a lot of room for me to go quicker."

Wickens said he has no expectations.

"It's tough because I've been telling everyone all along that it's something that I've done in the past, but I just never have expectations because in my experience, it kind of sets yourself up for failure," Wickens said. "So I was just going to go into this weekend and enjoy it and kind of see where it takes me and try to maximize whatever I can. But to answer your question, did I expect to qualify pole in my first IndyCar race, no. But I would have been disappointed if I was outside of the top 10 just because that's the kind of person I am. I'm a perfectionist, I am kind of OCD when it comes down to my career and everything on that front. I was working hard over the winter, Monday to Friday, watching IndyCar races online on YouTube, anywhere I could find them, just trying to learn. Like I think I watched like eight years of St. Pete in like two days, just trying to figure out anything, see if I could find trends or lines or tricks or whatever the case is."

Power said it's an advantage to start out near the front.

"Starting up at the front is definitely better as far as getting through the first corner and that sort of thing," Power said. "Obviously pole is the best position you can be in. But yeah, I mean, it will be interesting we don't know how these cars race. I know they follow well, but I don't think they draft that well."

#96 Scott Hargrove won a GT race./ANDREW J. KRAMER

#96 Scott Hargrove won a GT race./ANDREW J. KRAMER

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