Two-time defending Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford driver Sebastien Bourdais made it three wins in a row today with a terrific pit strategy that sealed the victory.
Justin Wilson came in second for RuSPORT and teammate A.J. Allmendinger topped off the final podium spot in third.The trio had finished exactly where they had started the race, although the competition was more significant than the outcome.
"Well, that was a heck of a day, that's for sure." Bourdais said of the event." I think you had a great showing from the three top cars of the beginning of the season.I think we really gave each other a run for our money.Nobody kind of, you know, laid back or anything.It was running flat out the whole time."
When started J.D. Wilbur dropped the green flag, Bourdais charged into turn one unchallenged.Wilson however had more than he could handle when A.J. drove around him, but the Brit fought back to regain the position and the pair went on that way for some time.
Back in the top five, Tracy had his hands full battling with defending race champion Bruno Junqueira.The two diced for much of the first stint.After being passed, Tracy fought back and was blocked by Junqueira but still managed regain the position.
Blocking or changing your line in an attempt to fight off a pass is an infraction in Champ Car, and officials who dropped a black flag on the Brazilian quickly noticed it.The stop-and-go penalty set Junqueira out of the top ten and out podium contention.
Debris on course brought out a full-course yellow on lap 24.This was the perfect opportunity for the first round of stops; most teams were going with a two pit-stop strategy.
Wilson followed Bourdais in the pits and took the lead as Wilson's team put him out just ahead of the defending champ.Bourdais plan was to take on a full load of fuel anyway which appeared to cost him an extra second.Wilson opted to stay with a soft compound tire, "reds" for the middle part of the race, Bourdais switched to the harder "blacks".
"Definitely for the McDonald's car, it seemed to be running exceptionally well at the beginning."Bourdais said."I really thought we had things under control.But, you know, we had I thought a good pit stop, but probably RuSPORT short fueled a little bit for the first one.When we got out of our box, we were second.From there on, I knew it was going to be a tough race."
AJ moved around Bourdais on the restart when Bourdais dropped the left-side tires off at Turn 3.Rookie Dan Clarke was ahead of the group when they took the green, and tried to move over, but AJ was able to nose in under Bourdais on the next corner, which caused the McDonald's car to go wide.
Wilson maintained his lead over AJ and continued to build an advantage over his teammate that only widened the gap between himself and Bourdais that turned out to be his real competition in the event.
"Sebastien and Justin had the pace on me a bit."Allmendinger explained."I got around Sebastien on the restart.More than anything, I kind of knew I was probably using more fuel than he was, so he was probably going to go longer than me.I was just thinking the first two races he had too many easy victories, so I wanted to make him sweat just a bit this time and stare at my Red Bull wings for at least 20, 25 laps."
The second round of pit stops proved to be the turning point in the race.Bourdais strategy to take on more fuel on the first stop allowed him to stay out two laps longer than the RuSPORT drivers and that was enough to gain valuable track position when he did eventually stop.
Wilson maintained the pressure on Bourdais through lap 60, but with Bourdais on reds now there was no catching him.Once again the Newman Haas team used their combined experience to formulate a winning strategy.
"I knew my car was going to come to me during the second stint with the standard tires comparing to these guys with the option tires."Bourdais recounted."I just couldn't pull it off.I still had to make the mileage to try and go further in case I wasn't going to pass them on the track.It was kind of a mind game a little bit."
Will Power and Charles Zwolsman came together with 5 laps to go, battling for 11th position.As they regained their composure, the leaders were coming up on them and Bourdais made slight wheel contact with Power.
There was no resulting damage to either car and Bourdais continued in the lead.Wilson was unable to move up and became trapped behind both slower cars as the laps were winding down.The lead at this point was just over three seconds.
Bourdais wins his third event in as many races, and Wilson brought home a gallant effort to secure second.Wilson was suffering a bit of heat fatigue following the race and made it into the infield care center for fluids.
Tracy, Alex Tagliani, Mario Dominguez, Andrew Ranger, Oriol Servia, Christiano da Matta and Junqueira round out the top ten.
The attrition factor did not come into play this year in Monterrey.Out of the 17 starters, 16 completed the event.Nelson Philippe made slight contact on lap one and broke a wheel.
The top five after three events in the championship are Bourdais with 102 points, Wilson is second with 77, Dominguez third with 69, Ranger is fourth with 58, and Tagliani is fifth with 56.
Andrew Ranger also earned a championship point for gaining the most positions today, the third consecutive race he's done that. He is the first driver since the new points system was instituted in 2004 to earn the championship point for gaining most positions in three consecutive races.