Bourdais holds off Daly to win in Detroit

Bourdais holds off Daly to win in Detroit
Jun 4, 2016, 10:23 PM

Sebastien Bourdais put KVSH Racing-Chevrolet front and center in Detroit for a second straight year, as the perfect strategy and some perfect driving put the #11 in charge.

Start: Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet leads
Conor Daly, Dale Coyne Racing Honda
Sébastien Bourdais, KV Racing Technology Chevrolet
Mikhail Aleshin, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
Takuma Sato, A.J. Foyt Enterprises Honda
Conor Daly, Dale Coyne Racing Honda
James Hinchcliffe, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Charlie Kimball, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport Honda
Carlos Munoz, Andretti Autosport Honda

Bourdais’ 35th Indy car victory, matching Bobby Unser for sixth in the all-time list, came as a potential Penske 1-2-3-4 fell apart due to gaffes and strategic miscues, which left Juan Pablo Montoya as the sole representative of Roger’s team on the podium in third.

Finishing between him and Bourdais was Conor Daly, whose late splash and dash but decision to stick with old tires enabled him to pit and resume and briefly close the lead to one second when Bourdais got held up in traffic. The American’s runner-up finish marked the first podium of his young career.

Fourth place went to a charging Graham Rahal, while Helio Castroneves was fifth for Penske.

The Brazilian, his championship-leading teammate Simon Pagenaud, and Andretti Autosport’s Carlos Munoz and Ryan Hunter-Reay were in cruise mode trying to make their fuel last 27 laps having pitted under the previous yellow flag. Only Pagenaud didn’t quite make it, falling from sixth to 13th on the final lap.

Yet he did better than teammate Will Power, who emerged from his final pitstop just in front of Pagenaud but with a loose right-rear wheel that caused his gearbox to malfunction under yellow, and sent him down an escape road where he remained.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon was similarly cursed, first with a long first fuel stop and then with an apparently malfunctioning gearbox. He too failed to finish. 

Story of the race

A surprisingly calm opening lap saw polesitter Pagenaud holding the lead from Castroneves with Montoya third, James Hinchcliffe fourth for Schmidt Peterson-Honda, followed by Tony Kanaan (Chip Ganassi Racing-Chevrolet), Munoz, Rahal, Kimball (Ganassi), Power, Takuma Sato (AJ Foyt Racing-Honda, and Dixon. The champion would pass Sato the following lap.

At this stage the battle was to see how long the soft reds could last, but given that they had been proven through practice to only last 10-12 laps, most teams felt it wise to start on reds and then pit as soon as possible, hoping to catch up when the first caution flew. Only Munoz of the front runners had chosen to start on blacks.

Marco Andretti pitted on lap 2 and the following lap Kanaan, Kimball, Hunter-Reay, Bourdais followed suit and soon most of the other front runners did the same, but Dixon was buried in the pack after his fuel hose wouldn’t engage and he was standing still for 22sec. He would emerge between Andretti and Bourdais.

When Max Chilton crashed on lap 10, following what appeared to be a suspension breakage, the front two – Pagenaud and Castroneves had yet to stop and were trying to make their red tires last. Behind them ran Munoz (on blacks) and following the flurry of stops, Montoya, Power, Hinchcliffe, Rahal, Kanaan, Kimball, Aleshin, Sato, Newgarden, Hunter-Reay, Andretti, Dixon.

At the restart on lap 15, Power passed both Montoya and Munoz under braking for Turn 3, and it appeared he was sitting in the catbird seat, as his teammates ahead would surely have to shed their reds soon. Yet Pagenaud did a remarkable job, pulling away from Castroneves who on lap 21 was passed by Power.

The Frenchman lasted until lap 23 before pitting, holding a 6.4sec lead. He emerged in 14th, while Castroneves and Munoz pitted at end of lap 24, emerge in 17th and 18th.

By lap 25, Power had the lead out to 3.4sec as he, Montoya and Hinchcliffe started to lay down their fastest time, chased by Rahal, Kanaan, Kimball, Aleshin (SPM), Newgarden (Ed Carpenter Racing), Dixon and Hunter-Reay.

Kanaan pitted again at the end of lap 26, as front four continued laying down their best laps.

Kimball, Newgarden, and Sato pitted at end of lap 27 as did Andretti and Chaves, while Power pitted at the end of lap 29 while 25sec ahead of Pagenaud, and emerged ahead of him. When Hinchcliffe stopped at the end of lap 30 and Montoya and Dixon pitted at the end of lap 31, Power should have been in front. However, a brilliant in-lap from Montoya and a strong stop meant he emerged from the pits just ahead of the Aussie.

JPM put a big squeeze on Power down to Turn 3 as the #12 drew alongside, but Power wasn’t to be denied. However, the kerfuffle between them lost enough momentum to allow their teammate Pagenaud straight through into the lead.

Pagenaud started laying down some fast laps but Power and – once his tires were up to temperature, Montoya – were equal to them. With Castroneves passing Hinchcliffe for fifth on lap 34, and then Bourdais pitting from fourth on lap 35, there was a Penske 1-2-3-4 and the team looked dominant and in possession of the fastest cars.

But on lap 42, Hinchcliffe crashed out of fifth place, locked up under braking at Turn 7 causing full-course yellow, and teams faced a dilemma – to stop or not to stop?

Montoya, Pigot (one lap down), Rahal, Dixon, Bourdais, Daly, Chaves did not stop and moved to the front. Power’s crew beat Pagenaud’s off pitroad, but the jackman had let the #12 down before the right-rear changer had finished. The car coasted into the runoff area at turn 3, with a loose wheel and a haywire gearbox, before being pushed out of harm’s way.

At the restart, Montoya held the lead with Rahal, Dixon, Bourdais, Daly, Chaves, Castroneves, Pagenaud, Kanaan, Munoz, but Kanaan would pit the following lap, as the front three tried to eke out a gap before they would have to pit again.

Rahal was first to blink, pitting from second at end of lap 52, while Montoya and Dixon charged on. JPM pitted at the end of lap 54, Dixon lap 55, but when the Kiwi emerged (ahead) in sixth place, he couldn’t get up to speed, his car apparently stuck in second or third gear.

Bourdais pitted on lap 57 leaving Conor Daly at the front for Coyne, but Seb re-emerged right ahead of Castroneves and Pagenaud who wished to avoid stopping again and so could not go flat out in case the race stayed green to the finish. Thus Bourdais pulled away from the Penskes, and eventually the pair of them would let teammate Montoya through on lap 60.

However, he had nothing left to attack Bourdais, who resumed the lead when Daly finally stopped for a splash of fuel but retaining his old black tires. He re-emerged in second, still ahead of Montoya, and closed the gap to Bourdais to 1.1sec as the leader hit traffic, but on old tires he didn’t truly have the pace to make a race of it.

Castroneves and Pagenaud going ultra slowly with 1min19sec laps - some four seconds off the pace – in in order to save fuel allowed Rahal into fourth, but he came up 1.8sec short of beating Montoya to the podium.

Detroit - Race 1

FranceSébastien Bourdais   KVSH (C) 1:40:51.6838 
États-UnisConor Daly   Coyne (H) +2.0401 
ColombieJuan Pablo Montoya  Penske (C) +5.7067 
États-UnisGraham Rahal   Rahal (H) +7.4793 
BrésilHelio Castroneves   Penske (C) +40.0139 
ColombieCarlos Muñoz   Andretti (H) +40.7592 
États-UnisRyan Hunter-Reay   Andretti (H)  +42.2990 
États-UnisCharlie Kimball   Ganassi (C) +44.4699 
BrésilTony Kanaan   Ganassi (C) +45.5832 
10  États-UnisAlexander Rossi   Andretti-Herta (H)  +48.2961 
11  JaponTakuma Sato   Foyt (H) +51.1067 
12  ColombieGabby Chaves   Coyne (H) +51.3256 
13  FranceSimon Pagenaud   Penske (C) +52.5313 
14  États-UnisJosef Newgarden   Carpenter (C) +1:06.2350 
15  RussieMikhail Aleshin   Schmidt (H) +1:14.1421 
16  États-UnisMarco Andretti   Andretti (H) +1 tour 
17  États-UnisSpencer Pigot   Carpenter (C) +1 tour 
18  CanadaJames Hinchcliffe   Schmidt (H) +5 tours 
19  Nouvelle-ZélandeScott Dixon   Ganassi (C) +14 tours 
20  AustralieWill Power   Penske (C) +26 tours 
21  Royaume-UniMax Chilton   Ganassi (C) +62 tours 
22  Royaume-UniJack Hawksworth   Foyt (H) +70 tours 

(C) = Chevrolet ; (H) = Honda

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“I thought the strategy was a mess!” says winner Bourdais

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