BOURDAIS WINS FIRST CAREER CROWN ROYAL IROC RACE Champ Car driver holds off Mark Martin for Texas win FT. WORTH, April 15, 2005 -- With his racing season less than a week old, Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais has already stamped two wins to his 2005...
BOURDAIS WINS FIRST CAREER CROWN ROYAL IROC RACE
Champ Car driver holds off Mark Martin for Texas win
FT. WORTH, April 15, 2005 -- With his racing season less than a week old, Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais has already stamped two wins to his 2005 resume. Bourdais led 53 of 67 laps and held off a late charge by NASCAR Cup driver Mark Martin to become just the fourth foreigner to win a Crown Royal International Race of Champions (IROC) event by winning the series' second race tonight at Texas Motor Speedway.
The IROC rookie also became the first Champ Car World Series / CART driver to win an IROC event since Al Unser Jr. did so at Daytona in 1997. Six days earlier, the 2004 Champ Car champion successfully opened defense of his title by winning the series' first race in Long Beach, Calif.
"It's quite special for an open-wheel driver to keep up with the NASCAR drivers here," said Bourdais. "These (NASCAR) guys have a lot of tricks, and they use them all the time. I practiced in the IROC cars here on Monday night and it was quite productive. I tried some different lines and they paid off.
"All the open-wheel guys were happy for me because we've been kicked around here for a while. I think they were excited that a fellow open-wheel driver won here tonight."
Four-time IROC titlist Martin came into the race leading the series points standings based on his victory in the season-opener at Daytona in February. He settled for second, followed by IRL IndyCar driver Buddy Rice (third), NASCAR Busch Series champion Martin Truex Jr. (fourth) and NASCAR Truck Series titlist Bobby Hamilton rounded out the top five.
''The biggest chance we had was if he would have made a mistake. It didn't look like that would happen,'' said Martin. ''He (Bourdais) did an awesome job. He is an incredibly talented young race car driver."
Bourdais regained the lead on a restart on lap 46 when then-leader Kurt Busch's right front tire went down, forcing him into the wall. Upon a post incident inspection by Goodyear engineers it was discovered that the positions of the front tires on his IROC car had been switched during a pit stop -- the left front was mounted on the right front position and vice versa.
Prior to the caution, Bourdais and Busch took turns holding first and second positions. Pole-sitter Bourdais regained the lead from Kinser on lap six and held the lead through lap 36.
Busch took full advantage of a caution on a lap 37 restart -- when Lasoski hit the wall -- to take the lead from Bourdais for the next nine laps before Busch's tire misfortune ended his day, leaving him with an 11th-place finish.
Grand American Racing Series champion Max Papis (sixth), World of Outlaws drivers' Danny Lasoski (seventh) and Steve Kinser (eighth), Matt Kenseth (ninth), Helio Castroneves (10th) and Scott Pruett (12th) rounded out the 12-driver field.
Kinser led the field for the first six laps before giving away to Bourdais, while Pruett's day ended on lap 5 when he was bumped from behind by Kenseth coming out of Turn 4. Pruett's car spun around and into the wall, damaging his radiator.
The third leg of the four-race IROC Series shifts to Richmond International Raceway (Sept. 8), followed by the season-finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Oct. 29).
Earlier in the day, Pruett, a seven-year IROC veteran and two-time race-winner, was one of 12 drivers nominated for a program to honor IROC's all-time great champions. Dubbed the Crown Royal Legends of Victory Lane, Pruett joined current series' drivers Martin and Kinser as other nominees.
Fan voting via the Internet at www.crownroyalracing.com will determine four all-time Legends of Victory Lane, and will be announced at the final IROC race in Atlanta in October.