McDONALD'S Â® DRIVER BOURDAIS EARNED BACK-TO-BACK WINS AT TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH AND BROUGHT TEAM 11TH SEASON-OPENING WIN IN 24TH SEASON;JUNQUEIRA TAKEN OUT ON FIRST LAP - McDonald's Â® driver Sebastien Bourdais brought Newman/Haas...
McDONALD'S ® DRIVER BOURDAIS EARNED BACK-TO-BACK WINS AT TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH AND BROUGHT TEAM 11TH SEASON-OPENING WIN IN 24TH SEASON;JUNQUEIRA TAKEN OUT ON FIRST LAP
- McDonald's ® driver Sebastien Bourdais brought Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) their 11th season-opening win in their 24th season in today's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. It was Bourdais' second consecutive win here and first from pole which enabled him to take an early lead in the 2006 Champ Car World Series standings after he led 70 of 74 laps, ran the fastest lap of the event and took over the championship lead after earning the maximum points available at 35 in front of a capacity crowd under sunny skies. At the start of the event he avoided a collision behind him that took out the cars of Paul Tracy, A.J. Allmendinger, Oriol Servia and teammate Bruno Junqueira who was making his Champ Car comeback. The incident occurred when Mario Dominguez touched the rear of Tracy's car, and Tracy hit the rear of Junqueira's car and pushed it into Allmendinger's car. There was a total of five caution periods in the event which ended two laps earlier than the originally scheduled 76 due to a 1 hour 45 minute time limit. Bourdais held off second place Justin Wilson through all of the restarts and maintained a comfortable lead and only relinquished the position during pit cycles to take the checkered flag 14 seconds ahead of the Englishman.
Following are his post race comments:
"The McDonald's car was just awesome today," said Bourdais. "There really wasn't much we could hope for any better than that. We just stayed focused and hung in there. It was perfect from the very beginning to the end but I guess it was a little frustrating from the inside. Every time a yellow would come out, it's like, okay, well, do it (restart) again. It happened quite a few times. I think the lap time we set during the race speaks for itself. The car was just great. I was able to just pull away every time there was a yellow flag. It was just a little bit of a shame for Bruno really because he did a great job, he had a great drive all weekend, for him to come back, and then be taken out in the crash like that at the start, it's really a shame. I'm sure he'll bounce back and be strong.
"It's a great way to start, don't get me wrong. It wasn't the most exciting race ever obviously because it was kind of a straightforward shot. You know, on the standings, it could not be any better than that for sure. We are scoring max points and three major opponents fell this weekend. What a way to start the season. It was a great turnout. I think a huge, huge crowd today. Thanks to everybody here in Long Beach, Bridgestone, for the series for making it happen.
"I've been in this situation many, many times before. Trust me, so many things can go wrong during a race, especially here, season-opener like that, street course. I just couldn't stop myself from thinking, "Oh, God, what's going to go wrong today?" Just very happy. I was not worried at all about our performance level or anything like that, I was just worried of a mechanical failure, (indiscernible) in the pits. I'm not perfect. I can make mistakes, too. I'm just glad everything went right and we scored the max points. It's been a smooth weekend all the way through. Last year (the win) was very special because I had never won it. Second, it was great to be able to pass actually to win the race, pass PT for turn one. I think it was very special. This one was kind of more, okay, you got to make no mistakes. That was the key word and the mindset for the whole weekend, more even in the race. This one was just kind of a go-through race for me because I knew we had everything which was required to get the job done. It was just a matter of -- it was ours to lose pretty much this weekend, and we didn't."
- Hole in the Wall Camps driver Bruno Junqueira was enjoying a strong comeback at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach but 322 days after his previous Champ Car race and win in Monterrey, Mexico (May 22, 1995) today's result was drastically different. Junqueira was second fastest in provisional qualifying on Friday and only 3/100ths of a second off of Bourdais' provisional pole time before setting the third fastest time in final qualifying on Saturday. He was prepared to continue his string of three consecutive podium finishes in Long Beach and attempt to earn his first win here but a Lap1, Turn 1 accident deprived him of the opportunity. Heading into the first turn, Mario Dominguez touched the rear of Paul Tracy's car, and Tracy hit the rear of Junqueira's car and pushed it into A.J. Allmendinger's car. The damage was too extensive to Junqueira's car for him to continue and he retired in 15th place.
Following are his comments:
"Someone hit me from the back so I ended up crashing with A.J.," said Junqueira. "It's a shame because the Newman/Haas cars were perfect this weekend. It was my first race back and I thought I had a chance to finish in the top three and maybe even win so it's frustrating to have this happen in Turn 1 of the first lap of the season."
- Statistically Speaking -- It was the 17th win for Bourdais in his 46th start as well as his sixth in the past eight races. It was also the 11th win in a season-opener for NHR in their 24th attempt. The team has won 32 of the past 67 races in the series.