Unpredictable Race Limited Mcdonald's Driver Bourdais to a Third Place Finish in The Champ Car Grand Prix Oo Road America After Starting From Pole; Pacificare Driver Junqueira Ran as High as Second But Incidents Dropped Him to 15TH -...
Unpredictable Race Limited Mcdonald's Driver Bourdais to a Third Place Finish in The Champ Car Grand Prix Oo Road America After Starting From Pole; Pacificare Driver Junqueira Ran as High as Second But Incidents Dropped Him to 15TH
- McDonald's driver Sebastien Bourdais started from pole and led the first 13 laps of the shortened 48-lap Champ Car Grand Prix of Road America but contact with Paul Tracy and Bruno Junqueira, coupled by having to make an extra pit stop due to a pit rule that mandated three green flag pit stops, limited him to a third place finish. Bourdais earned his fourth pole of the season on Saturday as well as a championship point. Mike Roberts, CEO of McDonald's, was in attendance at the race and was in one of the three pace cars at the front of the field that started the event. When the race started on the 4.048-mile course Bourdais maintained his lead which he held through the restart from the first of five caution periods from Laps 1-4 for Ryan Hunter-Reay and Jimmy Vasser who made contact on the opening lap. A full course caution period came out on Lap 12 when Roberto Gonzales drove off course and landed in the gravel trap. When the series attempted to restart the race, leader Bourdais came upon a pace car in the middle of the track in Turn 14 which wasn't the standard procedure. During the process, third place runner Paul Tracy passed second place Junqueira and made contact with Bourdais on his way into the lead. Oriol Servia followed Tracy and Bourdais dropped to third place. On lap 15 the complexion of the race changed as 10th place runner Justin Wilson, 12th place runner and eventual winner Alex Tagliani and others behind him up until 15th place made their first of three mandatory green flag pit stops. Both Bourdais and Junqueira were approaching their first green flag pit stops when they made contact while alongside each other in Turn 1 as Junqueira was attempting to pass Bourdais, who was able to continue while his teammate did not immediately. The contact ultimately did no damage to Junqueira's car but bent Bourdais' suspension. The full course caution period came out from Laps 16-18 to restart Junqueira who subsequently returned to his pit with a flat front left tire. Due to the timing of the caution period the top six cars had to pit on Lap 16 despite it not counting toward their three mandatory green flag stops or they would run out of fuel. Bourdais returned to the race in 10th place and once the race was restarted he was brought back in on Lap 19 for his first mandatory pit stop which only cost him one position. He moved up as high as seventh place by Lap 27 due to others who pitted before he made his second green flag stop on Lap 28 and returned to the race in 10th place. After a restart from a caution period on Laps 31-33 to remove the car of Gaston Mazzacane, and through pit stops by competitors he moved up to sixth place by lap 35. He made his final of three green flag stops on Lap 38 and before the mandated limit of 43. By Lap 39, the series declared that the event would end at the maximum time of 1 hour 45 minutes rather than the previously scheduled 54. After the field completed their final green flag pit stops, Bourdais moved into third place on Lap 44 of what would end up being a 48 lap race. Although it wasn't the same as a win, he was satisfied to collect 27 points for a difficult race and increased his lead over second place from 27 to 47 with a 213-166 margin.
Following are his post race comments:
"Well, I don't really know what to think about this race really because there have been so many things that I don't know what happened myself," said Bourdais. "All I know is we were leading the race. We had a good car. Then this yellow came out at the wrong moment. When I restarted the thing, the pace car was in the middle of the racetrack on Turn 14, and I've never seen that. So I have no idea what happened. So Tracy passed Bruno before the green flag was thrown. Tracy was right in my gearbox, and he passed me. As a matter of fact, trying to pass me, he touched me. He bent my left front suspension and my car was very difficult after that to drive. The contact by Tracy was due to the decision by the stewards about the restart. I don't think you're supposed to start the race with the pace car in the middle of the track, especially since it was flashing and the corner workers could see it. I don't understand why certain decision were made I just drove the car and tried to finish the race. Then I just had a pretty difficult day from then on. I tried to hang in there. But Bruno was next on the list. He tried to go by. I absolutely tried not to provide any resistance, I just kept my line. He had one wheel snuck between the curb and my car, and we had contact again. So now I had both the left front and the right rear bent, so the thing was not looking very good at all. From then I just didn't know what to think anymore. I had a terrible time driving the car. I just tried as hard as I could. I had a terrible time in the braking, especially inside. I got passed by a couple of people; I passed a bunch of people. And here I am on the podium, and I have no idea what happened in between. All I know is the team was very intelligent and very smart; that worked out for us today. But really I think I have to watch this race again, because I cannot put everything in order really."
- PacifiCare driver Bruno Junqueira was unable to earn his third win of four races here at his favorite track in today's Champ Car Grand Prix of Road America due to a myriad of events and he finished out of the top six for only the second time in eight races this season. Teammate and series points leader Bourdais was able to increase his pre-race lead from 27 to 47 following the event.
At the start of the previously scheduled 54 lap event on the 4.048 course, Junqueira moved from his fourth place qualifying position into second ahead of Jimmy Vasser and Ryan Hunter-Reay who later on the opening lap made contact with each other and brought out the first of five full course cautions. He held second place until the next full course caution on Lap 12 for Roberto Gonzales, who drove off course and landed in the gravel trap. When the series attempted to restart the race, Junqueira reported that leader Bourdais got hard on the brakes and he had to drive off course and into the grass to avoid hitting him. During this, third place runner Paul Tracy passed him as well as race leader Bourdais as did Oriol Servia which dropped him to fourth place. The team requested a review of the restart to determine whether Tracy accelerated before the restart cone and after the green flag was displayed although nothing was done to change the order during the duration of the event. On lap 15 the complexion of the race changed as 10th place runner Justin Wilson, 12th place runner and eventual winner Alex Tagliani and others behind him up until 15th place made their first of three mandatory green flag pit stops. Both Bourdais and Junqueira were approaching their first green flag pit stops when they made contact while alongside each other in Turn 1 as Junqueira was attempting to pass Bourdais, who was able to continue while Junqueira was not immediately. Other than dropping him one lap down to the leaders and ending his chance to win the event, he suffered no apparent damage to his race car. Junqueira brought out the full course caution from Laps 16-18 while the series restart his car and he returned to the pits with a flat left front tire. The team refueled his car and replaced his tires but his stop would not count toward his three mandatory green flags stops before Lap 43. When he returned to the track he was one lap down and in 17th place and the team called him back into the pits on Lap 18 for his first green flag stop. He moved up one position on before his second stop on Lap 30 under caution. He returned to the pits on Lap 33 for his second green flag stop and set the fastest lap of the race on his "in-lap" prior to his final pit stop on Lap 41. Paul Tracy had returned to the track from his final pit stop and was on cold tires when Junqueira came upon him. He safely pulled in front of him but Tracy locked up his tires and ran into the back of Junqueira's car and spun him before he continued on course. Rather than being immediately restarted, Junqueira's car was pulled away from the track before being restarted minutes later. On Lap 47 of the event that was shortened from 54 laps to 48 based on the 1 hour 45 minute time limit, Tracy had to serve a drive through penalty for "avoidable contact" due to his incident with Junqueira. He earned six points for his 15th place finish and one for setting the fastest race lap for a total of 166 to Bourdais' 213. He holds a 13 point lead over Alex Tagliani who drove to his first Champ Car victory from his 13th place start.
Following are Junqueira's post race comments:
"I had a good start and moved from fourth place to second," explained Junqueira. "I felt my car was much faster than Sebastien's but I was trying to save fuel and go one lap longer before I had to make my first pit stop. The restart after the yellow was a nightmare. I think there was a mistake made about the acceleration point on the restart and it changed the race. Coming around for the restart, Sebastien braked hard mid-corner and I had to brake hard to avoid hitting him and went in to the grass. Then Paul (Tracy) was four car lengths ahead of me instead of in third. (Oriol) Servia was also beside me but no decision was made to correct the situation. We felt Tracy jumped the restart and should have been penalized. A few laps later Sebastien made two mistakes and I came beside him to pass and his wheel spun me around and took me out of the race. It put me one lap down. I had a fast car and set the fastest lap after that but I was one lap down so there was no way to win. It's a shame because the PacifiCare car was fast enough to win today. Tracy came out of the pits on cold tires and I passed him but going into the Turn 5 he ran into me with his chrome horn."
- Up Next...The series will head west for the Centrix Financial Denver Grand Prix. Junqueira won the two events held there while Bourdais finished second finished last year.