CHAMPCAR/CART: Houston: Race report

NEWMAN/HAAS/LANIGAN RACING HAS BANNER DAY WITH A ONE-TWO FINISH IN THE GRAND PRIX OF HOUSTON HOUSTON (April 22, 2007) -- After being penalized following qualifying for the Grand Prix of Houston Sebastien Bourdais ( ...

NEWMAN/HAAS/LANIGAN RACING HAS BANNER DAY WITH A ONE-TWO FINISH IN THE GRAND PRIX OF HOUSTON

HOUSTON (April 22, 2007) -- After being penalized following qualifying for the Grand Prix of Houston Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) was set for a showdown with Team Australia's Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone), but it was his teammate, rookie Graham Rahal (#2 Medi|Zone Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) who filled his mirrors for most of the day. In the end, Bourdais earned his 25th career win and Rahal earned his first podium with a runner-up finish.

Bourdais moved into the lead right at the start but had to surrender the position for shortcutting the course. The Frenchman was undaunted as he patiently waited until lap 14 to take the lead from Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) and then built a lead for the next 13 circuits until a full course caution slowed the pace and brought the entire field to pit road. During the pit stops, Bourdais' McDonald's crew sent him back out in the lead with Forsythe Championship Racing's Oriol Servia (#3 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) second and Bourdais' teammate Rahal third.

The top three remained that way until a round of green flag pitstops began on lap 66 when Servia ducked onto pit road for service. Unfortunately for Servia his teammate Mario Dominguez (#7 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) was also on pit road and delayed Servia's exit from his pit box. The delay on pit road combined with an extra lap on track by the 18-year-old Rahal moved the young American into position to track down his teammate and battle for the lead.

Just as Rahal exits pit lane the yellow flag flies again as Will Power and Mario Dominguez get together in Turn 6 while at the same time Katherine Legge (#11 Dale Coyne Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone), Neel Jani (#21 Red Bull Gulfstream Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) and Dan Clarke (#4 Minardi Team USA Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) make contact in Turn 2. The Turn 2 incident ends the day for the trio and the yellow flag gives the lead to Tristan Gommendy (#22 Pay by Touch/Megaspiera Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone).

Gommendy used a similar strategy last weekend in Long Beach and here in Houston the Frenchman paced the field for 18 laps before running out of fuel at the entrance to pit lane with just seven laps remaining. While all of this was going on Dutchman Robert Doornbos (#14 Minardi Team USA Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) was slowly moving his way up through the field and after Gommendy retired Doornbos was positioned for his second podium finish in three Champ Car starts.

Oriol Servia overcame his difficulty on pit lane to finish fourth in his second race filling-in for the injured Paul Tracy while Team Australia's Simon Pagenaud (#15 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) claimed his first career top-five finish.

Mario Dominguez (#7 Telmex/Banca Mifel Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) rebounded from his struggles last weekend in Long Beach to finish sixth just ahead of three-time series runner-up Bruno Junqueira (#19 Sonny's Bar-B-Q Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) earned his third straight top-10 finish with Dale Coyne Racing, earning the seventh spot.

Pacific Coast Motorsports Ryan Dalziel (#28 Pacific Coast Motorsports Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) earned his career best finish of eighth and his second straight top-ten for the new Champ Car team.

Rounding out the top-ten were RSPORTS teammates Alex Tagliani (#8 LXN2 Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) and Justin Wilson who finished ninth and tenth respectively.

As the Champ Car World Series now takes a breath after three straight races, a familiar face is back atop the points standings with 73 markers. Will Power is just three points behind with 70 in second place and rookie Robert Doornbos is third with 61. Alex Tagliani and Bruno Junqueira round out the top-five in the race for the 2007 Vanderbilt Cup.

The Champ Car World Series will head to the Great Northwest for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland Presented by Joe's at Portland International Raceway.

QUOTES FROM THE TOP THREE FINISHERS

Sebastien Bourdais: "It's just been a weird weekend overall. You know, it feels really good to be back at the top here. After a great weekend at Long Beach, you know, the first 1-2 with Graham, it has been a long time for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. It feels really good because the boys worked so hard last night. Like Graham was saying, it's been a long winter, they really worked their tails off. It's paying off. It's all to their credit. I couldn't be any happier. It was a pretty tough beginning of the race. And then Justin made it a bit easier for us. He got around Will. So I just had to give up that position. And then after that, we were saving fuel, saving fuel, saving fuel. And I kind of had the feeling that Justin might have been struggling a little bit to make the fuel mileage, so I just kept the pressure. And I think at some point he really, really tried to make the target, and he just, you know, couldn't keep the pace. Got a good jump out of Turn 10, got around. After that, it was a straighter shot. But pretty eventful race. I have to say it wasn't easy. We got I think quite a few things to look at the car because towards the end, it wasn't the same car as the beginning. So I'm just glad it turned out all right. You know, very happy for all the McDonald's crew."

Graham Rahal: "All around it was a good weekend for the entire team. I mean, Sebastien was obviously the man to beat from the first session. It was pretty obvious that we had good cars this weekend. For me obviously just learning and gaining more experience from him. So luckily in the race we put it together. I mean, we knew after qualifying yesterday, it was a little disappointing being sixth because in prequalifying we were on old tires and we were really fast. So we expected to be the same. But we had some issues so we basically couldn't put a lap together and all night, you know, the team worked really hard. We sorted out our problems, came out here today, and right away the car felt really good in the race. I was able to save a lot of fuel, keep pace with Oriol and those guys. At the end of the day, he had to pit a lap earlier than me and that was that because I had a good inlap and good outlap. Unfortunately, went yellow. But still we got ahead of him and the team did a great job on pit stops. I have to really thank them."

Robert Doornbos: "Thanks for the extra point. I didn't know that worked. No, the race was amazing. I think I made the biggest jump at the start. I had a really good start, rolling start. I really get the hang of it. I went on the inside. I think I passed five or six guys into turn one, which was quite close, quite exciting. And then we just had a really good pace. Was very happy with the car. I was feeling comfortable with the car, saving a lot of fuel in comparison to the previous two weekends where I struggled a bit with the saving fuel thing because, you know, I'm really not used to it. But I learn quick. This time it went really well. So, yeah, a good strategy. I mean, the guys, obviously Michael Cannon, my engineer, and Rob, his strategy partner, they're very experienced and it worked out today so I'm very happy."

NOTEWORTHY

Sebastien Bourdais scored the 25th race win of his Champ Car career today, moving him into a tie with Gordon Johncock for 11th on the all-time Champ Car list.

Bourdais also became the first driver to win two Champ Car events in Houston.

Graham Rahal became the youngest driver to earn a podium in Champ Car at the age of 18 years, three months and 18 days. Rahal dethroned Andrew Ranger who earned the honor in 2005 at Monterrey, Mexico.

-credit: ccws

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Ryan Dalziel , Justin Wilson , Bruno Junqueira , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Graham Rahal , Mario Dominguez , Sébastien Bourdais , Robert Doornbos , Katherine Legge , Tristan Gommendy , Gordon Johncock , Will Power , Simon Pagenaud , Dale Coyne , Dan Clarke
Teams Dale Coyne Racing