CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland: Newman/Haas Racing preview

McDONALD' DRIVER BOURDAIS HOPES TO BECOME FIRST TO WIN THREE EVENTS AT THE CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF CLEVELAND PRESENTED BY U.S. BANK; PACIFICARE DRIVER SERVIA HOPING TO BETTER HIS FOURTH PLACE FINISH FROM 2004 CLEVELAND, Ohio (June 23, 2005) ---...

McDONALD' DRIVER BOURDAIS HOPES TO BECOME FIRST TO WIN THREE EVENTS AT THE CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF CLEVELAND PRESENTED BY U.S. BANK; PACIFICARE DRIVER SERVIA HOPING TO BETTER HIS FOURTH PLACE FINISH FROM 2004

CLEVELAND, Ohio (June 23, 2005) --- Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) earned the third of their six 1-2 finishes in 2004 on the temporary road course at Burke Lakefront Airport and hope to repeat the performance in this weekend's 94-lap Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by U.S. Bank. Along the way McDonald's driver Sebastien Bourdais hopes to be not only the first driver to win three races at the track, he would be the first to win in every start on the 2.106-mile course.

"We had a perfect car in Cleveland in 2003 and we got our first win for McDonald's in their first race with us," said Bourdais who started from pole and led 33 laps en route to his first win in the U.S. during his rookie season. "It was the first time really that year that I could say before the race started that I didn't think we could lose the race. At the start I knew the only way to make it safe through Turn 1 was to just lock the inside and deal with whatever we were going to lose in terms of positions on the exit of the turn. We did that and gave up the lead to Paul (Tracy) and then passed him back on track and it was one of the best races I had in 2003."

This week's Grand Prix of Cleveland is the second in a sequence of the toughest stretch of racing on the 2005 schedule, with four races taking place in five weeks. Through the first four events this season, there have been four different race winners, four different pole sitters and eight different drivers on the podium. Bourdais knows that with the competitive field currently in the series, luck could be just as important as skill some weekends.

"Last year it was obviously a different weekend, we were not looking so strong," said Bourdais, who along with Alex Zanardi are the only two drivers to have earned back-to-back wins here. "The balance of the McDonald's car was not good, I had too much understeer and we qualified third and I think that was the place where we should have finished but there was a big incident at the start with (Alex) Tagliani, (Paul) Tracy and Justin (Wilson) and we took the lead and never gave it up the rest of the race. We had our lucky weekend last year in Cleveland."

After Round 4 of 14 in the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, Bourdais holds the lead in the point standings after earning one win, one second place and two other top-six finishes for a total of 106 points over Paul Tracy's 95. His new teammate, PacifiCare driver Oriol Servia, 30, was ranked sixth prior to his retirement due to mechanical failure in the Portland event after running as high as fourth place. He dropped to an 11th place rank but is optimistic of being competitive this weekend due to his previous success at this track.

"I'm really looking forward to the race this year because I know I can do a good job in the PacifiCare car," said Servia, whose highest finish here of fourth place came last season. "Cleveland has been good to me, I love the track. I was on pole in Indy Lights and I just like racing in Cleveland. It's such a combination of fast chicanes and fast corners and it's a little bumpy but even the bumps make it nice because it makes it a little more challenging. It also makes for very good racing and overtaking as I did last year. I didn't have such a good qualifying, I was 13th on the grid but after the first corner I was fourth. Then I moved up to third but we had a little incident in the pit stop and we finished fourth but it was a great race."

NHR has competed in 22 of the 23 events held here and have amassed a total of 13 podium finishes including four wins (Bourdais 2003 & 2004; Michael Andretti 1991; Mario Andretti 1988) and five poles (Bourdais 2003, da Matta 2002, Mi. Andretti 1989, Ma. Andretti 1983 & 1984). Servia has competed in four Champ Car races at this track where his best start and finish was fourth place in 2003 and 2004, respectively. With Bruno Junqueira as the pilot here last year, the PacifiCare car set the fastest race lap and finished second to Bourdais. Servia knows that a good result will begin with manoeuvring a good start on the track that is known for Lap 1, Turn 1 melees that have caused crashes four out of the past five years.

"You have to approach Turn 1 at the start the same way whether you are P1 or P13, which is the smart way," added Servia. "Last year I moved up to fourth but I didn't try anything crazy, I just saw an opportunity and took it but it was not like a huge crazy move. It's one of those tracks that you have to use the mirrors a lot because people tend to be a little optimistic and you could be run over if you're not careful. But at the same time, it's racing and you've got to do what you have to do. Luck plays a little bit in the race so we hope it's going to be on our side."

"I think the officials might have another approach for the start this year, so we'll see how it goes," added Bourdais. "Maybe if they just try to narrow the track a little and limit the temptation to gain a bunch of positions on the start. Everybody knows that if the leader stays on the left side of the track, everybody is going to go to the right and many cars do that. You end up with 10 drivers shooting for the same apex and we know that doesn't work for everyone. Hopefully the McDonald's team will have a safe start and stay up front."

McDonald's team will have a safe start and stay up front."

Oriol Servia, #2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "I'm really looking forward to the race this year because I know I can do a good job in the PacifiCare car. Cleveland has been good to me, I love the track. I was on pole in Indy Lights and I just like racing in Cleveland. It's such a combination of fast chicanes and fast corners and it's a little bumpy but even the bumps make it nice because it makes it a little more challenging. It also makes for very good racing and overtaking as I did last year. I didn't have such a good qualifying, I was 13th on the grid but after the first corner I was fourth. Then I moved up to third but we had a little incident in the pit stop and we finished fourth but it was a great race.

"You have to approach Turn 1 at the start the same way whether you are P1 or P13, which is the smart way. Last year I moved up to fourth but I didn't try anything crazy, I just saw an opportunity and took it but it was not like a huge crazy move.

It's one of those tracks that you have to use the mirrors a lot because people tend to be a little optimistic and you could be run over if you're not careful. But at the same time, it's racing and you've got to do what you have to do. Luck plays a little bit in the race so we hope it's going to be on our side. It's a great track for the fans and that's why I think they are so good in Cleveland and come back year after year. It's like an oval because you can see all the corners and all the overtaking that happens. It's a good track for the fans because they can sit down somewhere and see the whole race."

Driver Stats and Quotes:

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, #1 McDonald'sFord-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone:

- IN CLEVELAND: Will be his third race here. Started third, led 88 laps and won back-to-back races here in 2004 after having provisional pole taken away on Friday. Won from pole in his rookie race here in 2003 after having led 33 laps to earn his first win in the U.S. in the debut of having McDonald's on his race car.

- 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...Was fastest on Friday and Saturday's qualifying in Monterrey, Mexico, and led the first 17 laps but contact with Paul Tracy while attempting to pass him caused an extra pit stop to replace his flat tire and ultimately limited his finish to fifth place...Started sixth on the one-mile oval in Milwaukee and was in podium contention when he exceeded the speed limit (55 in a 50) on his last stop and dropped to a sixth place finish to regain the points lead with 77 over second place Justin Wilson, 70...Started fifth in Portland after losing his fastest laps in Friday and Saturday's qualifying sessions. Finished second in the event after having led seven laps to increase his points lead over second place to 11 over Tracy.

ORIOL SERVIA, #2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone:

- IN CLEVELAND: Will be his fifth race here. His highest finish here was fourth place last year and his highest start came in 2003 of fourth place. Started 13th and finished 4th in 2004; started fourth and finished sixth in 2003; did not compete in 2002;started 12th and finished 17th in 2001; started 11th and finished 23rd in 2000.

- 11TH IN 2005 CCWS STANDINGS: Ran first two races with Dale Coyne Racing...Started 14th in season-opener in Long Beach and finished 11th...Started seventh in Monterrey, Mexico and was in second place late in the race before he spun and ultimately finished ninth in the event and ranked 13th in the point standings...Made his debut for NHR in Milwaukee as the replacement for Junqueira who was injured while attempting to pass a lapped car in the Indy 500 on May 29. Qualified ninth and went on to pass his new teammate Bourdais and ultimately finish third and move up to sixth place in the standings with 48 points...On June 9 was named to drive the PacifiCare car while Junqueira recuperates...Started 12th in Portland and had pitted in fourth place after running fifth when his Drive Shaft failed and he retired in 16th place. Dropped to 11th in the standings with 53 points.

What They're Saying About...

Sebastien Bourdais, #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "We had a perfect car in Cleveland in 2003 and we got our first win for McDonald's in their first race with us. It was the first time really that year that I could say before the race started that I didn't think we could lose the race. At the start I knew the only way to make it safe through Turn 1 was to just lock the inside and deal with whatever we were going to lose in terms of positions on the exit of the turn. We did that and gave up the lead to Paul (Tracy) and then passed him back on track and it was one of the best races I had in 2003. Last year it was obviously a different weekend, we were not looking so strong. The balance of the McDonald's car was not good, I had too much understeer and we qualified third and I think that was the place where we should have finished but there was a big incident at the start with (Alex) Tagliani, (Paul) Tracy and Justin (Wilson) and we took the lead and never gave it up the rest of the race. We had our lucky weekend last year in Cleveland.J

"I think the officials might have another approach for the start this year, so we'll see how it goes. Maybe if they just try to narrow the track a little and limit the temptation to gain a bunch of positions on the start. Everybody knows that if the leader stays on the left side of the track, everybody is going to go to the right and many cars do that. You end up with 10 drivers shooting for the same apex and we know that doesn't work for everyone. Hopefully the McDonald's team will have a safe start and stay up front."

Oriol Servia, #2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "I'm really looking forward to the race this year because I know I can do a good job in the PacifiCare car. Cleveland has been good to me, I love the track. I was on pole in Indy Lights and I just like racing in Cleveland. It's such a combination of fast chicanes and fast corners and it's a little bumpy but even the bumps make it nice because it makes it a little more challenging. It also makes for very good racing and overtaking as I did last year. I didn't have such a good qualifying, I was 13th on the grid but after the first corner I was fourth. Then I moved up to third but we had a little incident in the pit stop and we finished fourth but it was a great race.

"You have to approach Turn 1 at the start the same way whether you are P1 or P13, which is the smart way. Last year I moved up to fourth but I didn't try anything crazy, I just saw an opportunity and took it but it was not like a huge crazy move.

It's one of those tracks that you have to use the mirrors a lot because people tend to be a little optimistic and you could be run over if you're not careful. But at the same time, it's racing and you've got to do what you have to do. Luck plays a little bit in the race so we hope it's going to be on our side. It's a great track for the fans and that's why I think they are so good in Cleveland and come back year after year. It's like an oval because you can see all the corners and all the overtaking that happens. It's a good track for the fans because they can sit down somewhere and see the whole race."

-nhr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Michael Andretti , Bruno Junqueira , Paul Tracy , Alex Zanardi , Oriol Servia , Mario Andretti , Sébastien Bourdais , Dale Coyne