CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland: Newman/Haas Racing race report

McDONALD'S DRIVER BOURDAIS FINISHED SECOND IN THE G.I. JOE'S GRAND PRIX OF PORTLAND; PACIFICARE DRIVER SERVIA WAS FIFTH WHEN DRIVE SHAFT FAILED - McDonald's driver Sebastien Bourdais drove to a second place finish in the 105-lap G.I. Joe's Champ...

McDONALD'S DRIVER BOURDAIS FINISHED SECOND IN THE G.I. JOE'S GRAND PRIX OF PORTLAND; PACIFICARE DRIVER SERVIA WAS FIFTH WHEN DRIVE SHAFT FAILED

- McDonald's driver Sebastien Bourdais drove to a second place finish in the 105-lap G.I. Joe's Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland after having started fifth and increased his points lead from a pre-race amount of seven to 11 over Paul Tracy. Bourdais' weekend got off to a bad start after his fastest laps were not allowed in Friday and Saturday's qualifying sessions due to different reasons but he put that behind him and focused on the task at hand when the green flag fell under sunny conditions today. He began the race on the softer alternate Bridgestone tires and passed Alex Tagliani on the opening lap for fourth place and on Lap 15 he reported that the McDonald's car was very good. He held the position through the first stint and was able to stretch his fuel load to run longer than the rest of the field and set the fastest lap of the race to date on Lap 29. On Lap 31 he took over the lead and then pitted on Lap 32. Going farther than the rest of the field on his first tank of fuel enabled him to gain one position when he returned to the track on another set of alternate tires. He held third place until Lap 45 when he moved into second place when race leader Justin Wilson's 10-second lead vanished due to mechanical problems and he ultimately retired.

Wilson brought out the only caution of the day and those on the lead pit strategy made their second pit stops on Lap 49. Once they pitted Cristiano da Matta, who had made his first stop on Lap 13 and was out of pit sequence after most recently stopping on Lap 43, moved into the lead. Once back on track on primary Bridgestone tires, Bourdais was in third place behind da Matta and Paul Tracy. Da Matta's team gambled with their pit strategy and the former Newman/Haas Racing driver da Matta proceeded to build as big a gap as possible when the race went green so that he could possibly maintain the lead after his final stop. After closing his gap to second place Tracy, Bourdais successfully passed the Canadian on Lap 73 in Turn 1. He was now behind da Matta, who made his final stop on Lap 75 after having built an 18-second lead in anticipation of making an out-of-sequence stop.

Bourdais led the next six laps and bettered his fastest lap time on Lap 79 before he made his final stop on Lap 81 and returned to the track in second place, nine seconds behind da Matta. He built a comfortable lead over Tracy but was unable to close on da Matta who was on faster alternate tires and was enjoying a dominant day that earned him a 10-second margin over Bourdais when the field took the checkered flag. Bourdais collected 29 points over the weekend and increased his margin over second place from seven to 11 with 106.

Following are his post-race comments:

"It was a tough weekend for us," said Bourdais. "We lost our best lap time on Friday and Saturday and were a bit frustrated but we just kept our heads down and concentrated on getting a good result for the McDonald's team. I'm still very happy both for my team and for Cristiano, because I think it's been a long time for him. He's a good guy and it's good to see him back at the top.We picked up a spot at the start and then worked on saving fuel and were able to go the longest on the first stint. I can't say that I am a big fan of that kind of racing but it has given us an advantage so far. I thought Paul (Tracy) and I were fighting for the win when I passed him but then I was told about Cristiano's situation. The yellow came out between Cristiano's stop and mine and then when the field packed up we lost our advantage and the strategy changed. It worked out really good for him and we weren't able to keep up with him at the end of the race. Overall, after starting fifth I'm really happy to be in second place. We still have the lead on the championship. Although we didn't win the race, we were able to get a lot of points and that's what it takes to win the championship."

- PacifiCare driver Oriol Servia was in fourth place when he entered the pits for his third and final stop on Lap 76 of the 105-lap G.I. Joe's Grand Prix of Portland but shortly thereafter he encountered drive shaft failure and retired from event in 16th place. During the weekend he had limited practice time due to a variety of problems but was very happy with the competitiveness of the PacifiCare car in the race. His team elected to start the event on standard Bridgestone tires and save the two sets of softer alternate tires for the end of the race. Under clear skies the field took the green flag and he moved from his 12th place start into 11th after having passed eventual winner Cristiano da Matta. On the second lap he passed Timo Glock for 10th place and held the position until Lap 9 when he moved into ninth. As the first round of pit stops began he moved into seventh place before his first stop on Lap 31.

He returned to the track in eighth place and maintained the position until Lap 43 when he moved into seventh after Cristiano da Matta made his second out-of sequence stop. He held the position for three laps until he moved into sixth place when previous race leader Justin Wilson lost his 10-second lead and retired with mechanical failure. During the caution period to remove Wilson's car, those on the leader pit strategy made their second stops on Lap 49 and rejoined the field behind race leader da Matta who gambled with the alternate pit strategy. Servia returned to the track in fifth place and held the position and began pressuring fourth place Mario Dominguez until Lap 75 when he moved into fourth place when da Matta made his final stop. He made his final stop on Lap 77 and the PacifiCare crew installed standard Bridgestone tires.

On Lap 79, he informed the crew that he thought he had a problem and the team instructed him to return to the pits. They checked the car, made some adjustments and sent him back on track but he reported that the problem still existed so he returned to the pits and the team found that the left drive shaft was broken and he retired in 16th place. He collected five points for the event which dropped him from sixth to 11th in the point standings with a total of 53 to leader Bourdais' 106.

Following are Servia's post race comments:

"The PacifiCare car was really, really good," said Servia. "I thought we could put PacifiCare on the podium again like we did in Milwaukee but unfortunately it didn't happen. We started twelfth and moved into fifth and were in a position to try to keep moving forward but unfortunately something broke on the car. We think it was the left drive shaft. The car kept pulling to the side under power so that would explain things. We made some progress this weekend and I'm looking forward to Cleveland."

- Up Next...Round 5 will take place next weekend in Cleveland. McDonald's driver Bourdais has won the past two events here while Junqueira finished second here last year.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Mario Dominguez , Sébastien Bourdais , Timo Glock , Cristiano da Matta