IRL: Indy 500: Sebastien Bourdais opening day notes

TEAM CENTRIX DRIVER BOURDAIS PASSED TWO OF FOUR PHASES DURING THE FIRST DAY OF ROOKIE ORIENTATION TODAY OVERALL: The annual Rookie Orientation Program (ROP) allows rookies to get up to speed gradually. The rookies must complete 10 consecutive...

TEAM CENTRIX DRIVER BOURDAIS PASSED TWO OF FOUR PHASES DURING THE FIRST DAY OF ROOKIE ORIENTATION TODAY

OVERALL: The annual Rookie Orientation Program (ROP) allows rookies to get up to speed gradually. The rookies must complete 10 consecutive laps at different speed levels. Phase 1 is 195 to 200 mph; Phase 2 is 200 to 205 mph; Phase 3 is 205 to 210 mph while Phase 4 is 10 consecutive laps above 210 mph. Bourdais and the Team CENTRIX crew got started at approx. 2:15 p.m. in the back-up race car and ran a total of 45 laps before they returned to the garage to switch to the primary race car They were unable to get back on track until minutes before the practice session ended at 5 p.m. CT but ran three installation laps to prepare for Day 2 which will begin at 12 p.m. tomorrow.

Sebastien Bourdais, No. 37 Team CENTRIX Honda/Panoz/Firestone: "It's been a couple of seasons that I have wanted to come here and thanks to CENTRIX Financial I am able to this year. I'm happy to be in the CENTRIX car and with Newman/Haas Racing at this event. We were just trying to get experience today. There are lots of good guys like Rick Mears and Johnny Rutherford to help us. It is a lot of fun to see these guys and get tips. You can't afford to make a mistake here. (Nigel) Mansell and (Nelson) Piquet ran this oval race with limited experience. Realistically my experience on ovals is also limited so it's a good idea to take your time; a mistake could be very costly. You aren't sure where the limit is early on so ROP is a very good idea because there is less pressure. We achieved a lot with the McDonald's car last year (in Champ Car) but this is obviously very different deal here. We are taking the steps very slow to build up our experience. I'm looking forward to getting more experience behind the wheel of the Team CENTRIX car tomorrow."

* FAST FACTS: Will be his Indy 500. Had not even sat in an IndyCar until April 18 when he had a seat fitting. Ran his first laps in an IndyCar during the two-day Rookie Orientation Program beginning Sunday, April 8....OVAL SUCCESS: Has won two oval races (Germany 2003 & Las Vegas 2004) and one pole on an oval (Germany 2003)...VIVA FRANCE!: Only four Frenchmen have won the Indy 500: Jules Goux (1913, Paris), Rene Thomas (1914, Paris), Gaston Chevrolet (1920, Beaune) and Gil de Ferran (2003, Paris although he lists Sao Paulo, Brazil as his hometown). ..LEADS 2005 CCWS STANDINGS: Ended a series active record for most top-three starts at 15 with his fourth place qualifying effort at the season-opener in Long Beach but led a total of 37 laps and drove to victory in an exciting race that had seven different leaders. Holds a 34-29 lead over Paul Tracy.

* NEWMAN/HAAS RACING FACTS: The 2005 entry will mark the 15th year for NHR in the event and the first as a two-car team since 1995. Prior to 2005, the team prepared a total of 21 entries for drivers such as Mario and Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Paul Tracy and Bruno Junqueira. The entry of Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais in 2005 will bring the total to 23. NHR's highest finish in the Indy 500 is second place with Mario Andretti in 1985 and Michael Andretti in 1991 although team drivers have led many laps here. Mario Andretti also brought the team its highest start in the event when he won the pole position in 1987. NHR's 2004 entry of Junqueira marked the first time for the team to compete here since 1995.

NEXT UP: Day 2 of ROP will take place tomorrow with on-track practice time from 12 noon to 5 p.m. CT. Log onto www.indyracingleague.com for live timing and scoring.

-nhr-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Paul Tracy , Nigel Mansell , Mario Andretti , Rick Mears , Jules Goux , Sébastien Bourdais , Johnny Rutherford