Barrichello has fun in debut race

Rubens Barrichello

Everywhere Rubens Barrichello turned on pit lane before climbing into the No. 8 BMC-Embrase-KV Racing Technology Chevrolet for the start of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, he was greeted with handshakes and cheers from spectators waving Brazilian flags in the grandstand.

Barrichello, who was making his IZOD IndyCar Series debut after 19 seasons in Formula One, reciprocated throughout the pre-race festivities – soaking in the scene and sun with a smile.

It was a new setting for Barrichello and his wife, Silvana, but they felt right at home.

"I had fun out there," said Barrichello, who qualified 13th and finished 17th. "Unfortunately, we had a meter reading problem so I ran out of fuel at the end. However, I enjoyed the race and dicing with other cars, but would have liked to have been able to push more.

"It has been a good learning experience this weekend and I look forward to being back in the car in a few days for the next race."

That's what KV Racing Technology co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven projected on pit lane before the national anthem.

"It's going to take him a little time to get used to cold tires and double-file restarts," Kalkhoven said. "I'm expecting great things from him, but he'll grow into it. More than anything, he's just an outstanding driver and his feedback is remarkable. Then he's just a delight to be with."

Barrichello, who turns 40 in May, is the only driver in Formula One history to make 300 starts (322 of 326 entered) over his career that began in 1993. He was the F1 championship runner-up in 2002 and 2004, and earned 11 victories and 68 podium finishes.

Having the veteran, who joined KV Racing Technology on March 1 following two separate get-to-know-you test sessions, on the grid through the 16-race international schedule is a bonus, according to competitors.

"I think it's obviously huge for the series as Rubens has some real name recognition that he can bring to the IZOD IndyCar Series on an international level," two-time series champion Scott Dixon said. "With new cars and engine manufacturers rejoining our sport this year, the addition of Rubens just adds to the buzz surrounding IndyCar racing right now."

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