CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing preview

McDONALD'S DRIVER BOURDAIS AIMS TO LOCK UP HISTORY MAKING FOURTH CONSECUTIVE TITLE AT THIS WEEKEND'S LEXMARK INDY 300 IN AUSTRALIA; MEDI | ZONE DRIVER RAHAL HOPES TO BECOME 17TH DIFFERENT WINNER IN AUSTRALIA SURFERS PARADISE, Queensland, ...

McDONALD'S DRIVER BOURDAIS AIMS  TO LOCK UP HISTORY MAKING FOURTH CONSECUTIVE
TITLE  AT THIS WEEKEND'S LEXMARK INDY 300 IN  AUSTRALIA; MEDI | ZONE DRIVER
RAHAL HOPES TO BECOME 17TH DIFFERENT WINNER IN  AUSTRALIA
SURFERS PARADISE,  Queensland, Australia (October 16, 2007) --- Although
Australia could be the  site of something that has never been done before in a top
American racing  series -- four consecutive titles by one driver -- Sebastien
Bourdais is focused  on another achievement some might consider a lesser feat.
Bourdais, driver of the McDonald's entry,  will remain consistent to his
practice of taking it one race at a time and he is  focused on aiming to be the
first repeat winner in 16-year Lexmark Indy 300  history.  He figures that if
he can  do that the rest will take care of itself.  He holds a 58 point
advantage (301-243) over Justin Wilson and the worst  case scenario calls for a 14th
place finish or better to clinch the  title.

Four championships in a row are very rare in professional sports in fact it has never been done in either NASCAR or NFL and it hasn't been accomplished in the last twenty years in the NBA, NHL or MLB. Never one to be achieve great heights in order to see his name in records books, his motive has always been to get the most out of the situation and also reward the hard work of those who helped put him in the position to do so and this weekend is no different.

"Obviously the McDonald's  team has had some great races and not so great
races in Surfers Paradise," said  Bourdais who has started no lower than second
in his previous four races on the  2.795-mile ocean side street course.  "We'
ve won once (2005) but last year was a bit of a disaster, a bit of a  shame.
But historically we've been  very fast as a team and I've been feeling good
there so we're looking for a nice  weekend again under the Surfers Paradise
sunshine. Obviously it will be my last  race in Surfers Paradise but not my last
race in Australia.  I'll just try to enjoy myself as much as  possible and
give the McDonald's team the best result possible.  They really deserve  it."
Bourdais had hoped to  become the first repeat winner here in 2006 after
clinching his second Champ Car  title in Australia with a win in 2005 but the
race did not go as planned.  He  again clinched the series title but, ever the
sportsmen, he and the team were  disappointed with the end result of eighth
place after a rare mistake by the  Frenchman that also altered local favorite Will
Power's  race.
"Last year we were trying  to go one lap further than Will and at some point
when A.J. (Allmendinger) made  a mistake and was out of contention for the
title I knew the championship was in  the pocket and we could get a little more
racy," said Bourdais.  "I tried to pass Will and the maneuver  didn't go right
and we touched.  It  was a real shame for both of us.  These things happen
when you try to pass someone.  It doesn't always go  right."
To date, Bourdais has  earned 31 career poles and 29 wins.  His 31st pole
came in the previous race held in the  Netherlands and it put him sixth on  the
all time career pole position list.  With two races left in the season he has
the opportunity to match former  NHR driver Michael Andretti who has 32.  Mario
Andretti, who earned the first title for NHR holds the record with  67. He is
eighth on the all time race winner list with 29, for a 40 percent  average in
71 starts and a 60 percent average for podium finishes.  Despite his success
Bourdais is the first  to admit it has never been a walk in the park and this
weekend is no different,  in fact it is considered the most challenging street
course of the  season.

"The race is always very intense," said Bourdais. "It's a big strategy race and in the meantime it's super easy to make a mistake because the track is pretty bumpy and the chicanes are unforgiving. The slightest mistake will take you out of the race so it's always tense. You end the race with your nerves quite worn out."

Medi | Zone driver Graham  Rahal hasn't raced in Surfers Paradise before but
he has seen the races on TV  and even came here once when he was 9 years old.
That inexperience on this track might  prove a benefit and aid him in keeping
the 16-year, no repeat winner streak  intact.

"I'm looking forward to getting back to Surfers Paradise," said Rahal, 18. "I went in either 1997 or 1998, one of the last years my dad was racing. It is a great place; absolutely beautiful! I was only 9 or 10 so I missed the best part which is the girls. I wasn't paying attention to them then. My dad was knocked out right away so I didn't see much of the race. I went back to the hotel and jumped in the pool. I'm looking forward to seeing the entire race from the cockpit of my Medi | Zone car this year though."

With two races left this season, Rahal has his sights set on retaining his current fifth place rank. He became the youngest podium finisher with a second place on the streets of Houston but he really excelled on the tracks with more wide open spaces such as Edmonton, Elkhart Lake and Zolder where he earned third place finishes. He is expecting a challenge weekend on the street course.

"It will be a tough race  for me," said Rahal.  "I hope not  but I think it
will.  I've never  been a guy that has been fast over curbs and chicanes and
half of the Surfers  layout is hitting curbs and chicanes as hard as you can.
I hope the Medi | Zone team can be  competitive and we can keep the string of
new winners going there but it will be  a tough weekend."
The Lexmark Indy 300 gets  underway on Friday with the first round of
qualifying at 1:55 p.m. local  time.  The final grid will be set on  Saturday at 2:00
pm local time and the race will go green Sunday at 1:30 pm  local time and
will be broadcast on a tape delay basis on ESPN2 in the  United  States.

-credit: -NHLR-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Michael Andretti