CHAMPCAR/CART: Denver: Newman/Haas Racing preview

BOURDAIS AND SERVIA RETURN TO CENTRIX FINANCIAL GRAND PRIX OF DENVER PRESENTED BY PACIFICARE INTENDING TO DUPLICATE RECENT SUCCESS HERE DENVER, Colo. (August 10, 2005) --- McDonald's driver Sebastien Bourdais and PacifiCare driver Oriol Servia...

BOURDAIS AND SERVIA RETURN TO CENTRIX FINANCIAL GRAND PRIX OF DENVER PRESENTED BY PACIFICARE INTENDING TO DUPLICATE RECENT SUCCESS HERE

DENVER, Colo. (August 10, 2005) --- McDonald's driver Sebastien Bourdais and PacifiCare driver Oriol Servia are looking forward to this weekend's CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver Presented by PacifiCare for many reasons. Bourdais topped his second place finish here in his rookie season in 2003 with a win in 2004 in what he considers the best race of his career while Servia earned his best start of second place and earned a third place finish in 2003. Both drivers hope to maintain their recent performance level through the final six races of the season to maximize their season-ending rank in the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

"For me it was obviously a great race in Denver last year for the McDonald's team," said Bourdais of his win after contact with his teammate Bruno Junqueira on the opening lap dropped him to the back of the field. "It was a huge performance, the best drive I think I have ever done. We had a small incident at the race in the beginning and we had to restart from the very tail of the pack and passed pretty much everybody on the track, not in the pits. I just had to make it happen on the race track, not in the pits. Ten cars, one-by-one on the race track to come and win the race. Push to Pass was everything last year for me here. I never could have overcome that big of an incident at the start without Push to Pass. Everybody said that it was impossible to pass in Denver and we made it happen. Hopefully we won't have to use it this year."

Bourdais followed up his win in the 2005 season-opening race in Long Beach with wins in the past two races in Edmonton and San Jose and currently holds the championship lead by a 28 point advantage over Paul Tracy (216-188) after Round 8 of 14. Of 841 laps completed to date this season, Bourdais leads the list of most completed at 840.

The series first held an event in the streets of the Mile High City when they raced here in 1990 and 1991 before taking a hiatus until they returned in 2002. Michael Andretti bought Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) a pole position in 1991 and Cristiano da Matta brought them their first podium here of third place in 2002. Their first win came when they hired Bruno Junqueira who had won the Denver event the previous year and earned back-to-back victories as well as the first for NHR here in their 350th series event in 2003. Bourdais capped a 1-2 finish for the team with second place in 2003 before winning here in 2004 while Junqueira finished third. A win here by the team would not only bring them their third consecutive on the streets of Denver, it could also be the third consecutive by Bourdais or the maiden win by Servia, it would be one celebrated by many guests in attendance.

"CENTRIX Financial is obviously a sponsor of the team as well as the organizer and sponsor of the race," said Bourdais who started the Denver race in third place in 2003 and from pole in 2004 and led the final 11 laps. "PacifiCare is also a sponsor of the event and my sponsor McDonald's is also involved directly with the race. So it's a huge deal for us. We have to do well and we know it and we're really pumped up. Historically Newman/Haas Racing has been doing very well in Denver especially the past two seasons. Both the PacifiCare car and the McDonald's car have been plenty fast and last year we pretty much dominated the event."

PacifiCare driver Oriol Servia hopes that NHR continues to dominate the event this year and the Spaniard is on a roll since joining the team while Bruno Junqueira is recovering from injury. In the past six races, Servia has finished on the podium all but once when he had a drive shaft failure in Portland. He earned his highest series start of second place here in 2003 and one of his 10 podium finishes of third place also that same year when he finished third to Junqueira and Bourdais. His success, combined with that of the team has him confident of a competitive effort this weekend.

"I think we are going to be very, very competitive in Denver," said Servia. "The PacifiCare car won there the year I was on the podium in 2003 and we had a great battle. Last year the team finished on the podium again so there is no reason why I myself can't put the PacifiCare car on the podium again this year; hopefully on the top step of the podium. I think the Denver race is great; the city has a great energy and everyone welcomes the drivers and teams so it's just a great time and that's what we are about; having a great time going fast. With CENTRIX and PacifiCare as the sponsors of the event, they have worked hard to put together a good event both on track and off and it's just really, really cool to be part of it."

NHR DENVER -- ADD ONE

Servia's second place finishes this season in Toronto and Edmonton, as well as his three third place finishes catapulted him to a career-high fourth place rank in the standings. With a total of 160 points, he is 56 behind leader Bourdais (216), 28 behind Paul Tracy (188) and within 15 of third place Justin Wilson (175). While he tries to get closer to the top-three in points he would also like to do something they have all done this season -- win a race. In a season full of parity, five different drivers have won in the eight races so far this season and Servia knows it will be difficult but within reach.

"The talent on the grid is very high," said Servia who has earned only four points less than Bourdais in the past four races (110-106). "I qualifying for the last race in San Jose, there were 14 guys within one second on a 54-second track so it's really hard to be at the front. Everybody's pushing very hard. Fortunately I am at a great team, Newman/Haas, and the car arrives very well prepared and everyone is motivated every minute. We have been able to put the PacifiCare car on the podium five out of six races so we just need to keep doing the same and pushing to get a great outcome in Denver."

The drivers will participate in many events while in town. On Wednesday night they willparticipate in the BoSPOKER.com Celebrity Bowling, Billiards & Texas Hold 'Em Charity Night and on Thursday they will begin their day with a trip to the Ronald McDonald House and will be joined by Colorado-based RuSport drivers A.J. Allmendinger and Justin Wilson. The drivers will then attend a media lunch at Sambuca before heading to the track to work with their engineers in the afternoon which will be followed by a NHR function that evening. PacifiCare driver Bruno Junqueira may not be able to attempt to win his third Denver event in four years but his racing prowess will be put to use during PacifiCare's Driving School from 9-4 on Thursday which will be held near the race track. After a full day of track activities on Friday, they will attend a CENTRIX cocktail party followed by a dinner with PacifiCare guests on Friday. After a full day at the "office" on Saturday they will compete in a friendly go-kart race pitting drivers and their team owners against owner driver/owner combinations. In 2004, Paul Newman and Bruno Junqueira won the event. The drivers will then attend a dinner with PacifiCare before getting to bed early in preparation for the race on Sunday.

The fourth running of the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver presented by PacifiCare is set to take place Friday-Sunday, August 12-14, with practice and qualifying set for both Friday and Saturday. The Champ Car race will get the green flag at 1:45 p.m. local time on Sunday and can be seen live on SPEED Channel beginning at 3:30 p.m. Eastern. There will again be a 30-minute show of highlights from both qualifying sessions, which will air at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time on SPEED.

Driver Stats and Quotes:

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, #1 McDonald'sFord-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone:

- DEFENDING WINNER IN DENVER: Will be his third race here. Started from pole here last year but he and teammate Junqueira made contact on the opening lap and he dropped to 15th place. Charged back and led the final 11 laps to win what he considers the best race of his career...Started third and finished second to teammate Junqueira in 2003.

- LEADING 2005 CCWS STANDINGS: Ended a series active record for most top-three starts at 15 with his fourth place qualifying effort at the season-opener in Long Beach but led a total of 37 laps and drove to victory in an exciting race that had seven different leaders...Was fastest on Fri. & and Sat.'s qualifying in Monterrey, Mexico, and led the first 17 laps but contact with P. Tracy while attempting to pass him caused an extra pit stop to replace his flat tire and ultimately limited his finish to fifth ...Started sixth on the oval in Milwaukee and was in podium contention when he exceeded the speed limit (55 in a 50) on his last stop and dropped to a sixth place finish but regained the points lead by seven over 2nd (Wilson)...Started fifth in Portland after losing his fastest laps in Fri. & Sat.'s qualifying sessions. Finished second in the event after leading seven laps to increase his points lead to 11 over second (Tracy)...Started third and finished fifth in Cleveland and lost the points lead to Tracy who won from pole...Regained pts. lead after finishing fifth in Toronto. Started from pole and led the first 34 laps before contact with Tracy while the two were racing out of the pits limited his result...Extended points lead from 15 over second place to 21 after his win from a 10th place start in Edmonton...Drove to victory from pole in San Jose after he led 63/93 laps and set the fastest race lap to stretch his points lead from 22 to 28 for a total of 216 to Tracy's 188 (+28) after Round 7/14.

- RECORD FOR WINS: With his 12th win in his 39th start (Edmonton) he bettered Alex Zanardi's record of 12 wins in 41 starts. Earned his 13th in his 40th start.

- 2004 OVERVIEW: In 14 CCWS events, he won SEVEN races and EIGHT poles as well as set the fastest race lap six times en route to the championship in only his second season in the series...Became the first since former NHR driver da Matta (2002 -- 19 total races) to earn seven poles in one season before breaking that record with eighth in season-finale...Is the first driver to have made 14 consecutive top-three starts to begin a season as well as the first driver to have started in the top-three 15 consecutive times, dating back to the 2003 season-finale in Mexico City...Earned a total of 369 points over second place finisher and teammate Bruno Junqueira's 341.

- 13 WINS / 16 POLES: Bourdais has earned 13 WINS ('03 -- England, Germany & Cleveland; '04 -- Monterrey, Portland, Cleveland, Toronto, Denver, Las Vegas, Mexico City; '05 Long Beach, Edmonton, San Jose) and 16 POLES ('03 -- St. Pete, Monterrey, Germany, Cleveland, Australia; '04 -- Monterrey, Portland, Toronto, Elkhart Lake, Denver, Montreal, Laguna Seca, Mexico City; '05 -- Monterrey, Toronto, San Jose).

ORIOL SERVIA, #2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone:

- BEST START CAME IN DENVER: Will be his fourth race here. Started and finished sixth in 2004; earned his best start to date of second place in 2003 and finished third; started 13th and finished 11th in 2002.

- 4TH IN 2005 CCWS STANDINGS: Ran first two races with Dale Coyne Racing...Started 14th in season-opener in Long Beach and finished 11th...Started seventh in Monterrey, Mexico and was in second place late in the race before he spun and ultimately finished ninth in the event and ranked 13th in the point standings...Made his debut for NHR in Milwaukee as the replacement for Junqueira who was injured in the Indy 500 on May 29. Qualified ninth and went on to pass his new teammate Bourdais and ultimately finish third and move up to sixth place in the standings...On June 9 was named to drive the PacifiCare car until Junqueira recuperates...Started 12th in Portland and had pitted in fourth place after running fifth when his drive shaft failed and he retired in 16th place...Started sixth and finished third in Cleveland as well as set the fastest race lap...Earned his best qualifying position with team of fourth place in Toronto and matched his best career finish of second place after he led 20 laps but lost the lead with 11 to go...Started fourth, led two laps and finished second in Edmonton to move from his fifth place rank in the standings to fourth with 135 points to leader Bourdais' 182...Matched his best career start of second place in San Jose but dropped to a third place finish when Paul Tracy short-filled and passed him in the pits.

- 10 PODIUM FINISHES TO DATE: Of his 10 career top-three podium finishes, his highest is second place at Toronto & Edmonton (2005 with NHR) and 2003 events in Milwaukee and Montreal. He finished third in San Jose, Cleveland & Milwaukee (NHR, 2005), Laguna Seca (2004), Denver (2003) and Detroit (2000).

- HIGHEST CHAMP CAR START: His best career start is second place in San Jose (2005), Montreal and Denver (both in 2003).

What They're Saying About...

Sebastien Bourdais, #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "For me it was obviously a great race in Denver last year for the McDonald's team. It was a huge performance, the best drive I think I have ever done. We had a small incident at the race in the beginning and we had to restart from the very tail of the pack and passed pretty much everybody on the track, not in the pits. I just had to make it happen on the race track, not in the pits. Ten cars, one-by-one on the race track to come and win the race. Push to Pass was everything last year for me here. I never could have overcome that big of an incident at the start without Push to Pass. Everybody said that it was impossible to pass in Denver and we made it happen. Hopefully we won't have to use it this year.

"Historically Newman/Haas Racing has been doing very well in Denver especially the past two seasons. Both the PacifiCare car and the McDonald's car have been plenty fast and last year we pretty much dominated the event. The challenges are pretty easy to understand, it's a concrete track and there are a lot of bumps although the organization did a good job to smooth the track over the years. The altitude also makes it more demanding but it's actually harder for the car because it is more difficult to cool the engine and the brakes; it's a tough course.

"Realistically the Denver Grand Prix these days is one of the most successful in the series. The ticket sales last year were very good and it's going to continue to be a huge success; probably the biggest Champ Car race in the US. CENTRIX Financial is obviously a sponsor of the team as well as the organizer and sponsor of the race. PacifiCare is also a sponsor of the event and my sponsor McDonald's is also involved directly with the race. So it's a huge deal for us. We have to do well and we know it and we're really pumped up.

"I think everybody is going to try so hard that we might see more mistakes than we usually see. The course is tough, the competition is tough. It's a very competitive field this year. You can see five, six, seven guys going for it this year at every race and their not always the same guys but it's a tough field, very dense. I think we can expect a very tough race; everybody is going to go for it. It's a course where mistakes come very easily so we're definitely going to have to stay clean and make it through the race without any incidents because that's been the key lately to doing well. PT (Paul Tracy) is strong and consistent. I've been getting more consistent lately too. We overcame some tough situations when we were in trouble so hopefully we can keep doing it. We've had our share of frustrating moments and hopefully we can continue to win races from here on out."

Oriol Servia, #2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "I think we are going to be very, very competitive in Denver. The PacifiCare car won there the year I was on the podium in 2003 and we had a great battle. Last year the PacifiCare finished on the podium again so there is no reason why I can't put the PacifiCare car on the podium again this year; hopefully on the top step of the podium. I think the Denver race is great; the city has a great energy and everyone welcomes the drivers and teams so it's just a great time and that's what we are about; having a great time going fast. With CENTRIX and PacifiCare as the sponsors of the event, they have worked hard to put together a good event both on track and off and it's just really, really cool to be part of it.

"With the high altitude, there is less pressure on the car which means less downforce and they don't have as much grip as at other tracks. The Newman/Haas team has shown that they can put a good car together in Denver and I think we are in good shape for that track; I really believe we have a good chance to do well. I think it's very important to have a good race in Denver but, like every other race, there are the same amount of points given at the end of the day. It's probably one of PacifiCare's most important markets and there are a lot of people from PacifiCare coming to the race so I am hoping to put on a good show for them and hopefully end up on the top of the podium.J

"The talent on the grid is very high. I qualifying for the last race in San Jose, there were 14 guys within one second on a 54-second track so it's really hard to be at the front. Everybody's' pushing very hard. Fortunately I am at a great team, Newman/Haas, and the car arrives very well prepared and everyone is motivated every minute. We have been able to put the PacifiCare car on the podium five out of six races so we just need to keep doing the same and pushing to get a great outcome in Denver."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Michael Andretti , Bruno Junqueira , Paul Tracy , Alex Zanardi , Oriol Servia , Paul Newman , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Dale Coyne , Cristiano da Matta