CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland: Race report

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS CLAIMS 100th CHAMP CAR WIN FOR NEWMAN/HAAS/LANIGAN RACING IN HISTORIC EVENT AT PORTLAND PORTLAND (June 10, 2007) -- From the start of the Mazda Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland Presented by Joe's Sports and Outdoor everyone...

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS CLAIMS 100th CHAMP CAR WIN FOR NEWMAN/HAAS/LANIGAN RACING IN HISTORIC EVENT AT PORTLAND

PORTLAND (June 10, 2007) -- From the start of the Mazda Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland Presented by Joe's Sports and Outdoor everyone knew it would be a historic day, but as the checkered flag flew the race gained more notoriety as Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing earned its 100th Champ Car victory. For the first time in Champ Car history, the race started from a standstill rather than the traditional rolling start. Every driver was able to get going cleanly which set the tone for the caution free day that saw Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) cruise to his third straight win.

At the start, polesitter Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) stormed out to an early lead and then continued to pull away gaining a 15 second lead before the first round of pitstops. On the start, Australian Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) jumped from his seventh starting position to third after the Festival Curves with Sebastien Bourdais and Alex Tagliani (#8 LXN2 Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) close on his heels.

Further back on the grid Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) launched up four positions on the first lap but spun in Turn 6 on the third lap and spent the rest of the race on an alternate strategy trying to work his way back up through the field and eventually finishing tenth. Tracy was the first driver to duck into pit lane for service on lap 17 while Bourdais stretched his fuel economy to the max, not pitting until the 29th circuit, short filling the car and coming out in the second position.

During the first round of pit stops Power's Team Australia crew best the Minardi Team USA mechanics, gaining the third spot from Robert Doornbos (#14 Minardi Team USA Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone). The two would continue to battle throughout the 103-lap event with Doornbos eventually earning his third podium finish in four career Champ Car starts with a third place finish and Power finishing fourth.

While those two were battling, the three-time defending champion began to close the gap Wilson had built up. Bourdais ran slightly faster lap times throughout the second stint and just after the second round of pit stops, Bourdais got the better of Wilson through Turn 1 and then steadily pulled away to the nearly 14 second victory. Wilson did his best to stay with Bourdais but had to settle for his second consecutive runner-up finish at Portland International Raceway.

RSPORTS driver Alex Tagliani (#8 LXN2 Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) continued his consistency in 2007, earning his third top-five finish of the season with his fifth place finish. Dan Clarke (#4 Minardi Team USA Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) started ninth and moved up to sixth by the end of the race, marking his best finish of the season.

Rookie Tristan Gommendy (#22 Pay By Touch-Megaspiera Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) continued to show promise after earning a fifth place finish in his Champ Car debut in Las Vegas and leading laps at both Long Beach and Houston, the young Frenchman ran a steady race to finish seventh. Another pair of rookies Simon Pagenaud (#15 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) and Graham Rahal (#2 Medi|Zone Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) both earned top-ten positions, finishing eighth and ninth respectively.

As the drivers prepare for the summer stretch of races, the championship battle has Sebastien Bourdais leading the way with 105 points, Will Power second with 94 markers and Rookie Robert Doornbos third with 87 points. RSPORTS teammates Alex Tagliani and Justin Wilson are currently fourth and fifth in the standings.

NOTEWORTHY

* Today's race marked the first caution free Champ Car race since the event at Road America in 2000.

* Following a yellow start in 2006, Champ Cars have completed 207 consecutive green flag laps at Portland International Raceway

* Sebastien Bourdais earned Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing's 100th Champ Car victory with a margin of victory of 13.537 seconds. Mario Andretti began the victory parade in 1983 at Elkhart Lake's Road America with a 15.98 second margin of victory.

QUOTES FROM THE TOP THREE FRIDAY QUALIFIERS

Sebastien Bourdais: "I don't think I made history; I think I just participated in it for my team. It's obviously a fantastic organization with three great team owners. Mike is a new addition to the team, but I think he's going to be the future of it. It's very important. You know, couldn't be any happier for the whole team, the owners and McDonald's. Well, I think we just didn't seem to be able to put it together either on Friday or Saturday. We just seemed pretty clear after a while today, the McDonald's car was superior and we were just able to maintain the advantage. Pretty sweet win. No. 100 for the team. Just very, very honored to be a part of this."

Justin Wilson: "I got a little too much wheel spin on the start and Robert (Doornbos) got a clean jump. I was just watching him alongside. When he braked, I braked. Made it pretty simple. I was on the inside. Got through. First stint was working really well. Just cruising really. Very comfortable with the car. It felt really nice to drive. Then the second stint I was expecting to pick up the pace. It never happened. I was a little bit surprised at that. But, you know, ultimately weren't quite quick enough. Sebastien just slowly ate into my lead and eventually after the second pit stop he managed to get by me. I'm pleased to get on the podium. I think everyone on the #9 CDW car did a great job all weekend. I'm really proud of them. Hopefully we can be up there and challenging for the win at Cleveland."

Robert Doornbos: "There was such a big fuss about the start approaching the weekend. I think we proved just that you can make normal starts without any hassle as long as you are just relaxed. I think the procedure went very well with Champ Car. I thought I had a better start than Justin. I proved it because I was alongside him. Then I just got a bit too excited with a miss-shift so the advantage was gone. The guys did a good job with the pit stops, very consistent. So, yeah, up to my third podium in four races. Obviously, it's great. It's good for the team. We proved today that if we want to win races or challenge these guys, Sebastien or Justin, we need to improve the car more. For the next jump to make, we have now two weeks, hopefully the guys can work hard and in Cleveland we can be even stronger."

-credit: ccws

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Graham Rahal , Mario Andretti , Sébastien Bourdais , Robert Doornbos , Tristan Gommendy , Will Power , Simon Pagenaud , Dan Clarke