Sebastian Bourdais won the opening round of the 2017 IndyCar season after starting from last place.
Bourdais was on the back foot after crashing during qualifying, but after pitting early a few laps into the race it put him and others including Simon Pagenaud in prime position to take track position should a caution occur.
Pole-sitter Will Power was overtaken by James Hinchcliffe after a second restart due to a collision between Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball at the start, and it wasn’t long before the Canadian was stretching the gap out in front.
A quarter of the way into the race, Tony Kanaan and Mikhail Aleshin were among those who pitted out of sequence. But on the exit they collided which scattered parts of Aleshin’s front wing across the circuit, causing the second caution of the day. This meant that Hincliffe, who was comfortably out front, had to pit which handed the lead over to Pagenaud from Bourdais.
After the restart Bourdais made use of the fresh set of red-stripped tyres he had fitted to overtake Pagenaud into Turn 1, eventually building up an eight second lead as the Penske driver elected to save fuel to go a lap longer during the next pitstops.
As it turned out, Bourdais lead was good enough for him to pit and not worry about the Penske driver with 28 laps left, enabling him to take a last-to-first victory and the first for Dale Coyne Racing in three years. Scott Dixon was third after also employing the fuel-save track, ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay who came back after a shunt in the morning warm up.