CHAMP CAR POINTS LEADER SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS SCORES VICTORY IN INTERNATIONAL RACE OF CHAMPIONS EVENT IN TEXAS FORT WORTH, Texas (April 15, 2005) -- 2004 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford champion Sebastien ...
CHAMP CAR POINTS LEADER SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS SCORES VICTORY IN INTERNATIONAL RACE OF CHAMPIONS EVENT IN TEXAS
FORT WORTH, Texas (April 15, 2005) -- 2004 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford champion Sebastien Bourdais started his week in strong fashion, winning the 2005 season opener in Long Beach, but his efforts at the end of the week may have opened even more eyes than the Long Beach win did.
Bourdais became the first Champ Car driver in 10 years to win a race in International Race of Champions (IROC) competition, storming to the lead early and holding off a fierce challenge from IROC's all-time leading race winner Mark Martin in the final laps to take the victory at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday.
"I knew it was going to be a tough fight in those last laps," Bourdais said. "I knew I had to try and keep the car low on the track but I was having a little trouble that made it tougher. It's a great feeling to win here. Thanks to the IROC people for letting me come here and compete with these guys. This is a great series."
The Champ Car World Series points leader had just one day of IROC practice leading up to Friday's race, owing to the fact that he had to travel cross-country to run in Champ Car testing Wednesday and Thursday in Portland. Despite the lack of seat time, the Frenchman dominated the event in becoming the first foreign-born driver since 1992 to win an IROC race. The victory, along with the bonus points earned for leading the most laps and for leading at the halfway group boosts Bourdais into second in the 2005 IROC standings, just 10 points behind Martin.
Bourdais started from the pole Friday afternoon, a spot he inherited after a wreck not of his making in the Daytona IROC opener left him last in the Round 1 results. He put that spot to good use, shoulder World of Outlaws legend Steve Kinser aside on Lap 7 to take a lead he would hold for the next 30 trips around the 1.5-mile oval.
He fell behind reigning Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch on a lap 37 restart brought on by Danny Lasoski's brush with the wall, but took the lead again on Lap 46 when Busch cut a tire and hit the wall. He led easily for the next few laps until Martin tracked him down with five laps to go. The NASCAR veteran tried to find a way around on the final orbits of the Texas track but could not find an opening as Bourdais punched his ticket to Victory Lane.
"Sebastien did a fabulous job," Martin said after Bourdais became the 47th driver ever to win an IROC event. "I thought I was going to be able to race him for it but he did a good job holding me off. He was fast."
The IROC series will compete next at the .75-mile Richmond Intenational Raceway on September 8. The Champ Car World Series will be back in action on May 22 at the 2.104-mile Fundidora Park road course in Monterrey, Mexico.