BOURDAIS FAMILY FINISHES SEVENTH IN GRAND-AM CUP EVENT AT DAYTONA, MICHAEL MCDOWELL EARNS PODIUM PLACEMENT DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 27, 2006) -- The family names Unser, Andretti and Vukovich are fabled ones in the history of open-wheel...
BOURDAIS FAMILY FINISHES SEVENTH IN GRAND-AM CUP EVENT AT DAYTONA, MICHAEL MCDOWELL EARNS PODIUM PLACEMENT
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 27, 2006) -- The family names Unser, Andretti and Vukovich are fabled ones in the history of open-wheel racing but on a sunny Friday at the Daytona International Speedway, it was the Bourdais family that emerged as the fastest duo as Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford champion Sebastien Bourdais and his father Patrick finished seventh in today's Grand-Am Cup event.
The pair competed in a brand-new Ford Mustang GT 500 in today's three-hour endurance race as a reward from Ford Racing after Sebastien scored his second consecutive Champ Car title in 2005. It was the first time that the father-and-son duo had ever competed together and it was an outing that the two will not soon forget.
"This will remain as one of the best souvenirs that I've ever had in racing," said the elder Bourdais at the end of the event.
Patrick is no stranger to high-level competition, having competed in the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans on a number of occasions, including a run in last year's event, but today's race was his first in the Grand-Am Cup cars. He survived one brief spin to keep the #1 Multimatic Ford in the top quarter of the 88-car field before yielding to the two-time reigning Champ Car titlewinner.
The younger Bourdais got the team up to sixth before a missed turn in the Bus Stop chicane caused a drive-through penalty. The penalty dropped the team 35 seconds off the pace, but Sebastien was able to battle back through the field to get into the top ten with seven laps to run.
"The Mustang was really fast and had great top-end speed but it was a little tricky in the infield section," said Sebastien. "We could run guys down on the oval section and but some of the smaller cars had a little easier time in the infield. It made for a lot of great battles and a day full of action for us."
The result was especially pleasing for the Ford Racing contingent, who fielded the ride for the Bourdais family with the help of the Multimatic race team that competes full time in the Grand American Rolex Series.
"This was all about putting Sebastien and his father together and running a race car at this fabulous speedway," said Ford Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, Americas Anne Stevens. "The most important thing to us was that they have a great time and they definitely did. The fact that they ran so well is a great testament to the team and to what kind of champion Sebastien is."
Things tightened up with seven laps to run as a full-course caution brought on a Lap 50 restart. Sebastien took the green in 10th place, but made up two spots on the first lap. He battled all through the final trips around the 3.56-mile layout and came home in the seventh spot.
"I really have to thank Ford for allowing us to run in this race," Sebastien said. "It's unique when you get to share a ride with your father and not only did we have a lot of fun but we were competitive, and had it not been for that penalty, we likely would have been in the top five.
For Sebastien's father, today's race confirmed to him that he still has more than enough talent to compete at a high level -- a fact which was evidenced by the wide grin on his face.
"When I first drove the car yesterday I really didn't feel very good in it. It was like I was driving from the outside looking in," he said through his son's interpretation. "But today I really felt capable and turned some good lap times. It feels really, really good to have done this and my thanks also go to the people at Ford for allowing this to happen."
In addition to the Bourdais family competing today, 2005 Champ Car competitor Michael McDowell joined with Rob Finlay to bring his #15 Playboy-sponsored Ford Mustang to a podium finish. McDowell, who ran two races with Rocketsports Racing last season in the Champ Cars, made a pass with two laps to go to secure a podium spot.
"The last few laps were a lot of fun and we had some real battles out there," said McDowell. "We lost the ABS system during the race so that made the infield sections a real handful but we had a lot of fun out there."
The sextet of Champ Car drivers that will compete in tomorrow's Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona ran a pair of practice sessions today in preparation for Saturday's twice-around-the-clock event.
The third, fourth, fifth and sixth positions on tomorrow's starting grid are occupied by cars with Champ Car drivers on the squad, led by the third-placed Gainsco/Blackhawk team with 1996 series champion Jimmy Vasser heading a lineup that features former Champ Car Atlantic competitors Alex Gurney and Rocky Moran Jr.