The 2018 IndyCar season started and just three corners after the green flag, Will Power officially started the crash season by tapping Robert Wickens and hitting the wall. A few seconds later, Zach Veach and Tony Kanaan made contact as well, but the first Caution did not arrive until lap 3, when Charlie Kimball lost control of his Ganassi machine in the last corner and ended up in the grass.
When the race was restarted on lap 6, Jordan King completed an impressive move round the outside of Wickens to take the lead of the race and Alexander Rossi did the same with Matheus Leist to go up to third. Further behind, Graham Rahal and Spencer Pigot made contact and the number 21 car stalled the engine, bringing a new yellow flag period. Some drivers on the back of the field decided to pit, changing the strategy and in some cases, repairing some damage. This would include Sébastien Bourdais, with a puncture.
Once the green flag came back, Wickens took the lead from King, who made contact with Rossi. This gave Leist the chance to overtake the American but the Andretti driver ended up taking back the two places. On lap 15, Leist’s car started losing power and positions, which made him drop out of contention for the win.
Lap 24 saw the first stops from the leaders but before they all made their pit stops, Leist crashed against the well, thus being forced to retire. The Pace Car was out again and it stayed until lap 34, though the green flag was to be short-lived, since Scott Dixon outbraked himself and took Takuma Sato with him. The Ganassi machine stalled and the race had to be neutralised once again.
The fourth restart was initially clean, with Wickens again taking the lead from Bourdais, but before the lap was over, Jack Harvey had a crash that brought yet another yellow flag. This time, the positions did not change after the next restart on lap 45 and there were no incidents. Around lap 60, the drivers on the top started stopping and refuelling again. Wickens and Bourdais were swapping the lead, being on different strategies, although the Canadian seemed to have the race in his favour. Once everyone had stopped, Bourdais was third behind Rossi, which showed that his strategy had not been the best. Still, it was a good save after the earlier puncture.
Come the last fifteen laps, Rossi was getting closer to Wickens but the Andretti driver went wide on lap 99 and lost some time. It all seemed to be clear but René Binder went to the well three laps later and brought what seemed to be the final yellow flag. With four laps to go, the Pace Car left the track and the race was restarted. Rossi was just under the rear wing of the leader, Wickens… but Max Chilton hit thr wall and stalled the car while trying to go back to the race as fast as possible. This could have been the end of the race but a surprisingly quick action by the stewards meant the race could still have two more laps under green flag.
However, the drama-filled race still had one last hurrah with what proved to be the last restart. Rossi went side by side with Wickens and by going wide, he sent the rookie to the wall and out of the race. Rossi himself fell to third place and the next yellow flag sealed the deal. This gave Bourdais an unexpected win, repeating the success of last year. Second despite the initial troubles was Rahal, with Rossi completing the podium on what seems to be a good start of his time without Herta. The top 10 contained James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dixon, Josef Newgarden, Ed Jones, Marco Andretti and Power.
Obviously, the race order is also the order of the standings, with Bourdais leading with 51 points. The next round will take place at Phoenix, the first oval track of the season, on the 7th of April.