CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES POINTS LEADER SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS SUFFERS TOUGH NIGHT IN RICHMOND IROC EVENT, FINISHES 10TH AFTER CRASH
RICHMOND (September 8, 2005) -- Hailing from LeMans, France, Champ Car World Series points leader Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) is unfamiliar with the concept of the nighttime short-track bullring that spawned a generation of stock-car drivers.
But just because he was unfamiliar with the concept did not make him immune to its effects as he fell victim to two separate incidents on the .75-mile Richmond International Raceway oval, ending up 10th in the third round of the 2005 Crown Royal IROC Series event Thursday night.
Bourdais became the first Champ Car driver since Al Unser Jr. to win an IROC race when he scored a Round Two win at Texas, boosting him to second in the series point standings after two of the year's four events. That success put him 11th on the grid for Thursday night's 90-lap event as the grid was set in inverse order of the point standings.
Bourdais showed why he was chosen to be part of the 12-man International Race of Champions series as he made passes of Max Papis, Danny Lasoski and Steve Kinser to work his way to eighth place after 26 laps. He held his spot, trying various lines through the turns, until the mandatory caution flag flew on Lap 60, sending the entire field down Pit Lane for new tires.
"I really didn't have a whole lot of grip and the tires went away pretty quickly so I tried a few different things," Bourdais said. "I had a lot of push and couldn't get in the throttle as quickly as I wanted to, but we kept looking for a way to make up ground."
A Lap 62 restart after a Kinser spin saw Bourdais vault to fifth by making strong passes of Scott Pruett and Buddy Rice, but Rice fought back on the next lap, bumping Bourdais in Turn Four and sending him toward the wall. The defending Champ Car champion gathered the car back in and emerged unscathed after a slight brush of the fence, but lost four spots in the process.
He continued back toward the front, again passing World of Outlaws legend Kinser for eighth, then climbing to sixth when Helio Castroneves and Martin Truex Jr. spun on Lap 85. The field took another lap under caution when Kinser spun again on the restart, and Bourdais moved up to fifth when the green flag flew again on the next pass. He found himself immediately embroiled in a battle with Pruett and Truex for spots fifth through seventh, but it was a battle that wouldn't last long.
Bourdais and Truex went side-by-side into Turn Four and bumped twice, with the second contact sending Bourdais sliding into the inside wall, ending his day with major front-end damage.
"There wasn't a lot of grip and there wasn't much of a chance to go two-wide through there," Bourdais said. "Truex didn't give me any room and there wasn't much I could do to save the car."
Series points leader Mark Martin came from 12th on the grid to nip Kurt Busch at the finish line, scoring his record 13th IROC race victory. He holds the series points lead heading into the final race of the Crown Royal IROC season, October 29 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Bourdais, who leads the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford standings with four races remaining, gets back to work next week, testing his Newman/Haas Racing Champ Car at Road America. He and the rest of the series get back on the track September 23-24 with the Las Vegas Champ Car 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.