A NEW ERA BEGINS BOURDAIS BAGS TIME WARNER CABLE ROAD RUNNER 225 AT THE MILWAUKEE MILE MILWAUKEE (June 4)-- Race day at The Milwaukee Mile may have started out like a typical day for Champ Car driver Sebastien Bourdais -- starting from pole ...
A NEW ERA BEGINS
BOURDAIS BAGS TIME WARNER CABLE ROAD RUNNER 225 AT THE MILWAUKEE MILE
MILWAUKEE (June 4)-- Race day at The Milwaukee Mile may have started out like a typical day for Champ Car driver Sebastien Bourdais -- starting from pole position for the third time in four races this season - but it was the end of the race that proved to snap the string of sour luck at America's Legendary Oval, for both driver and team in the Time Warner Cable Road Runner 225.
Bourdais won Sunday in convincing fashion, scoring his fourth straight Champ Car World Series victory, and his ninth series win in the last 11 races. Domination would be a word to describe the Frenchman's recent successes, but not a term used to describe his luck on ovals. That is, until today.
Bourdais' breakthrough oval win at The Mile in front of 28,357 sun-soaked fans was the first win for Champ Car powerhouse Newman -- Haas Racing since 1986. In three previous Milwaukee starts for the team, Bourdais crashed twice and finished sixth after an infraction while running in contention.
Driving for legendary actor Paul Newman and Chicago businessman Carl Haas, Bourdais led the field to the green flag Sunday afternoon next his teammate Bruno Junqueira. Bourdais led the opening 20 laps before a cut tire forced him to make an unscheduled pit stop, which dropped him far back in the field, a lap down to the leaders. From there, Bourdais used a combination of pit strategy and a fast car to overcome the adversity.
"This car was a rocket ship today, it really looked like we were going to run away with it, and I guess on lap 15 or something, the guy started to see a small leak on the right rear, then I started to think different," he recalled. "The car was really good and we didn't panic, and everybody knew what he had to do, and me first, and the most important thing was to finish this race, not make any mistakes, and we were already really concentrated."
"Then I started to hit traffic and go very quickly and play catch-up a little bit, and it all worked out."
The turning point for Bourdais came during a caution flag on lap 55 as Bourdais ducked into the pits while the rest of the leaders remained on the track. By putting himself on a different sequence from the rest of the front runners, Bourdais was able to race his way back into contention and take advantage of the fact that other drivers had to pit later, giving the defending series champion preferred track position.
As the laps clicked off and lead lap cars had to pit, Bourdais eased into the lead on lap 101, set a fast pace and never looking back to take the checkered flag.
LEGGE LED EARLY
Champ Car's first full-time female driver Katherine Legge used pit strategy to lead twelve laps early in her first oval attempt. Mentored by team co-owner Jimmy Vasser, Legge was very impressive in her first-ever oval start. In the storied history of The Milwaukee Mile, Legge also became the first Champ Car driver to lead a lap, as five women have competed in the series.
WILSON SOLID, CAREER BEST FOR PHILIPPE
Second-row starter Justin Wilson kept the nose of his RuSPORT Lola near the front throughout the event. Eventual runner-up Wilson paced 61 laps during the middle stages and was the only driver to keep Bourdais in sight, finishing three seconds behind Bourdais at the finish. The personable Brit improved from his fourth place finish of a year ago.
"I was quite please the car was working well. Unfortunately, we weren't quite quick enough but we got a good performance from the CDW crew, they did a great job, gave me a good car...it's all down to the team and the car. I'm quite pleased I got the opportunity today," Wilson said.
Third year driver Nelson Philippe finished a career-best third after a spirited duel with Wilson.
"It was pretty good fun," Wilson stated. "Nelson was running low downforce, so he was quick down the straights, but couldn't quite carry the speed through the corners. He would come down on the inside, I could see him out the side of the car, our wheels were getting close. Then, I looked in my mirrors coming out of two and saw Nelson's car weaving all over the place, so I guess he lost downforce. It got pretty loose on him. I'm just really happy to have made the podium on an oval.JI can count this as my third oval. I didn't really think Vegas counted because it was just flat outb^0x0011- this is one where you have to drive, and you feel that you can drive this track."
Phillippe overcame a brush with the wall the produced the fourth of five caution flags for debris from his the bodywork his car shed upon impact.
"It feels definitely amazing (to finish on the podium)," the 19 year-old Frenchman beamed. "It's been a long time coming. I've been really close a couple of times to being in the top 3, and finally I achieved it today. The main thing is I've got to give it up to my CTE-HVM team because without them I wouldn't be here. They gave me an awesome car, it was great in traffic."
Philippe's team visited victory lane at The Mile with driver Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2004 drove for the same team.
"A bad car on an oval is no fun. When you have a good car, its fun, today I had a good car. I never had so much fun on an oval. It was great. I scared myself with Justin a couple of times, but hat's part of it."
Wilson's teammate, Californian A.J. Allmendinger finished fourth after leading a handful of laps early on, while Oriol Servia rebounded from some wall skirmishes in practice on Friday and Saturday to rally for fifth after a hard-fought battle with Phillippe and Almendinger.
TRACY OUT BEFORE IT STARTED
Defending race winner and heavy pre-race favorite Paul Tracy never really got a chance to defend his race title as he became involved in a three-car crash on the opening lap, damaging his car severely enough to retire from the event. The incident began when Tracy's teammate Mario Dominguez made contact with Bruno Junqueira in turn four, which turned Junqueira's car sideways and into the turn four wall. Asunqueira spun, he clipped Tracy's car which sent him also spinning down the track before coming to rest against the retaining wall.
"Mario (Dominguez) just drove in way to hard and ran into the side of Bruno (Junqueira)," a disappointed Tracy stated shortly after storming back to the pit lane on foot. "It's frustrating because now there are two good cars crashed out."
MILWAUKEE MILE STATEMENT ON RACE LENGTH, attributed to Craig Stoehr, Milwaukee Mile Chairman:
"We are very pleased by the support of our fans for the Time Warner Cable Road Runner 225 today. We wanted to clarify the situation surrounding the shortened race distance.
"Champ Car officials declared Sebastien Bourdais the winner on lap 197, in accordance with Champ Car's time limit and agreement with their television broadcast partner.
"Although we share our race fans' disappointment the event did not run the full distance, we have no control over Champ Car's policies and we believe this was still the most well-attended and exciting Champ Car event The Mile has had in some time."
1. Sebastien Bourdais 2. Justin Wilson 3. Nelson Philippe 4. A.J. Allmendinger 5. Oriol Servia 6. Katherine Legge 7. Andrew Ranger 8. Dan Clarke 9. Charles Zwolsman 10. Nicky Pastorelli 11. Will Power 12. Jan Heylen 13. Cristiano da Matta 14. Mario Dominguez 15. Bruno Junqueira 16. Paul Tracy 17. Alex Tagliani
J Photo captions:
Sebastian Bourdais received the winner's trophy from Time Warner Cable Wisconsin VP of Sales & Marketing David Gray. It was the first win for Bourdais' Newman -- Haas Racing team since 1985 at The Mile.
Much to the delight of the crowd, third-place finisher Nelson Philippe posed with a cheesehead and three members of the Green Bay Packers. Nick Collins, Roy Manning and Collin Cole were guests of The Milwaukee Mile and watched a portion of the race from Philippe's pit box.