Series veterans Justin Wilson and Alex Tagliani helped spur their teams forward after challenging practice and qualifying sessions to score top-10 finishes in IndyCar’s season opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
The combination of Honda’s relative lack of pace, although the top 22 in practice were barely covered by more than one second, and setup issues meant Wilson (13th) and Tagliani (17th) were further down the grid than they may have liked.
A mix of good strategy and avoiding trouble helped move them up the order to ninth and 10th by the finish. Wilson could have ended higher in Dale Coyne’s No. 19 before EJ Viso made a late-race pass. Tagliani’s race was largely uneventful but a positive for his BHA/Barracuda Racing effort, which a year ago raced at St. Petersburg with Lotus engines and has had only one preseason test this year.
“We had a pretty good race,” said Wilson. “The Sonny’s Bar-B-Q Honda team called some good strategy and we managed to keep picking our way up there and making improvements. It was frustrating to lose a couple of spots right at the end – I seemed to get knocked around a little bit and be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s good to get a top 10, but we want to be up there challenging for the win, so we’ll focus on what we can do better next time and try to make a step forward at Barber.”
Wilson’s DCR teammate Ana Beatriz retired with mechanical issues after a frustrating weekend back for the first time since last year’s Indianapolis 500.