INDIANAPOLIS (September 20, 2004) -- Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford points leader Sebastien Bourdais (#2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) has been the man to beat through the first 11 races of the Champ Car season, putting together an especially strong third-quarter run to take over the top spot in the chase for the Vanderbilt Cup.
Racing fans of all disciplines recognized Bourdais for his furious climb to the top last week when they voted him as the Driver of the Quarter for the third quarter of the 2004 season, selecting the Champ Car points leader ahead of seven other nominees for the honor -- which is sponsored by SPEED Channel.
Bourdais edged NASCAR Nextel Cup points Jeff Gordon in the fan voting after collecting three wins and five poles during the third quarter of the 2004 campaign, en route to building a 24-point lead over Newman/Haas Racing teammate Bruno Junqueira (#6 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). It was the first time that this season that a Champ Car driver has won the fan voting for the honor.
"I'm proud to have won the fan vote, especially against other drivers who are so recognized in the U.S. and have been racing here so many years," Bourdais said. "Everyone on the McDonald's team has been working hard all season and will continue to do so. We work hard because we love racing but at the end of the day the fans are one of the most important elements of any sport, and that makes winning the fan vote even more special."
Bourdais has been one of the dominant forces in all of racing through the last three months, winning five poles in the seven races held during that span, leading laps in each of the seven events, and scoring five top-five finishes. His finest effort came on the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver street course when he fought back to win the race after early contact dropped him to 13th.
In the end, the fan vote counted for just one of the 19 available votes for the Driver of the Quarter award, and the panel of motorsports journalists selected Gordon for the honor, making it a clean sweep for NASCAR drivers through the first three quarters of the year. The award for Driver of the Quarter has gone to a number of Champ Car drivers over its history, most recently to Paul Tracy (#1 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) for his dominant start to the 2003 season. Newman/Haas Racing itself has seen four of its drivers win the overall Driver of the Year award, including the legendary Mario Andretti, and 2002 Champ Car titlewinner Cristiano da Matta.