CHAMPCAR/CART: Crowning achievement at the GP of Edmonton

The punishing airport circuit produced many winners today: Team Australia's vibrant duet of Simon Pagenaud and Will Power were honored as champions today for the Canadian Triple Crown at the Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton today. The circuit...

The punishing airport circuit produced many winners today: Team Australia's vibrant duet of Simon Pagenaud and Will Power were honored as champions today for the Canadian Triple Crown at the Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton today.

The circuit proved to be a grueling experience for the drivers and crews as they fought their way over a tortuous yet gratifying race circuit. Fuel strategy was key as they raced towards the first full course yellow of the race.

Sebastien Bourdais added another notch in his belt for triumphantly conquering this arduous airport circuit. Although it may have been a challenging venue, all the drivers expressed their ardor for both the circuit and the passion expressed by the Canadian fans in their run for the crown. Bourdais now has a 20-point lead in the standings after a three-way battle coming into Edmonton, the home of the final round in the inaugural Canadian Triple Crown Challenge.

"Canada is a great country," said Simon Pagenaud, who finished fourth. "I really love coming here. They have great racetracks, especially Edmonton. Again, we had a very good attendance. It was really crowded. It's very enjoyable for us driver. I want to thanks all the fans for that."

"The Triple Crown is a great thing because it involves a little bit more for the Canadian fan, and I think that's a great move from Champ Car," he continued. "I've been thinking about it's such a good championship and I'm also glad to be able to win this championship with Will. We have been so far the strongest combination since the beginning of the year, and it's great."

"Up until this point, Canada has been very friendly to us," agreed Will Power. "Yeah, it's a great country. All the tracks are awesome and the fans are very enthusiastic. Massive crowds. You know, so it's a very good thing that Champ Car's done, to have this championship. Makes it a lot more interesting for everyone. But, yeah, you know, it's a bittersweet day for me especially because I've obviously lost a lot of points to Sebastien. You know, I had a major part break in the steering. So in a way it was lucky I pulled in because now looking at it, it could have been a massive accident. But, yeah, very happy to win the Triple Crown."

The start proved to be a test for Power as he lost the lead to Bourdais. "It was the paint. I said it all along. They wouldn't let me look a the grid before I made the choice. I went out and had a look this morning. I just said, 'Good chance we're going to lose the start.'"

Bourdais commented, "It was a fun race. It was tough, as usual. It's a place, like I said, it beats you up, drags you down to your knees, but when you can pull it off, it feels really good. I think everybody was tired towards the end. The car gets really tough to drive. But the McDonald's car was fast, and that's really all that matters. And we pulled it off. You know, I really thought we had lost the win when that incident happened in the pits on the first stop, Katherine was just coming into the pits. We were ready to leave. We lost probably three seconds or something like that, and that was enough to go back down to third place. You know, I think the team -- the team had a pretty good idea that we were actually going to make it quite a bit further on fuel than the rest of the guys. They were confident, and they told me, you know, Just keep plugging away, it's not over. And it worked out.

"You know, we went two laps further than Will and one lap further than Justin, and that was all we needed really. I was really, really happy that we could do that. It was a good performance on the whole team. And then after that they did an awesome job on green or yellow pit stop, they pulled it off, you know, and they made it stick. That's what it's really all about, you know. I mean, this series, you win as a team and you lose as a team. But today was a great weekend again for us."

Justin Wilson said, "It was a long, tough race. It was great fun and we gave everything we had, but it wasn't quite enough. The CDW team did a fantastic job all weekend and I'm really pleased to get another podium here at Edmonton for CDW and all our partners." Justin felt that they engaged in a game inside the car that will give them future fuel strategy.

"It's been a solid weekend for the whole MediZone team," commented rookie Graham Rahal. "The race today was another good performance. I thought I had a good start, but then when I got alongside Justin, realized that Neel was inside of him. So then, you know, kind of the first half of the race was chasing them around. And then pretty much we just saved as much fuel as possible, kind of played into our hands.

"Actually lost radio contact at the pits at the end of the first stint, so that made it difficult for me because, you know, obviously being a rookie, never having been in a situation like this before, you know, it put a lot of emphasis on watching the pit board and stuff, things I've never really done before. And then, you know, at the same time during the second stint, we were extremely quick. We saved a lot of fuel at the beginning. But once we decided to go, we caught right up to the leaders. We definitely went a bit further on fuel than both Will and Justin. And then, you know, we got out in front of Will and basically just kind of plugged away. Thought we had a good enough car to get by Justin, but at the end there just couldn't quite hang in."

"Up until yesterday we were actually having one of our worst weekends," said Paul Tracy. "We made huge changes to the car overnight and we really didn't know what to expect today, and even in warm up it was hard to tell where we were. So we kind of came blindfolded into the race. The car was OK, it wasn't super fast but were able to run at the same pace as a bunch of guys that qualified in front of us. We got a top five which is very good considering where we started." Tracy who stated he is still feeling the effects from his hard hit in Long Beach worked his way through the field meticulously with the fervor he is so well known for."

Mario Dominguez, who was subbing for the injured Tristan Gommendy, commented: "I honestly don't know what went wrong. Something blew up, but it definitely wasn't the engine, because the car was still working fine. However, at that point it was better to park it because you don't want to ruin anyone's race. It is really too bad because the Pay By Touch MegaSpirea car was running well. I was doing my best to do a good job for the PKV Racing team...for Kevin Kalkhoven, Jimmy Vasser, Mark Johnson and all the crew. They really worked hard. This is not the way I wanted to get a ride, but I got to race and it was a good opportunity for me. I did the best I could considering I didn't get in the car until this morning.

"As far as the future is concerned, hopefully Tristan will be okay and can race next weekend in San José, but if he can't I hope PKV Racing will consider me again to drive the car."

Robert Doornbos, currently second in points, tangled with Alex Tagliani and said, "We struggled all weekend really, except for this morning's warm-up, and we couldn't get on the pace for the race. We figured things out a bit too late in the weekend."

"It was a very difficult race and I'm glad that it's over. My car wasn't nearly good enough to run with the leaders, and then Tagliani hit me in turn one and nearly put me in the wall. He was a lap down and I'm not really sure what he was trying to do, but it put me a lap down because the car spun and stalled, and that was effectively the end of my race. I'm looking forward to a real street circuit again, where hopefully we'll be better."

Tagliani, on his part, was frustrated that Doornbos had been holding him up.

After the personal and physical challenges the drivers experienced over the past couple of days on the municipal airport circuit, the race was not marred by lots of incidents and the drivers were able to accomplish their own personal and team victories.

Many stories are left to unfold as the season closes in its half way point, we will have to wait and see what the field has to offer us as they move toward the second half of the season.

Next up: the Streets of San Jose which have proven historically to challenge the talents and patience of the drivers of the Champ Car World Series. What will the second half of the season disclose?

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Jimmy Vasser , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Graham Rahal , Mario Dominguez , Sébastien Bourdais , Robert Doornbos , Tristan Gommendy , Will Power , Simon Pagenaud , Kevin Kalkhoven