CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland: Newman/Haas Racing race report

HOLE IN THE WALL CAMPS DRIVER JUNQUEIRA FINISHED SECOND IN THE CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF CLEVELAND; McDONALD'S DRIVER BOURDAIS WAS RELEASED FROM CLEVELAND METRO HEALTH HOSPITAL AFTER NEGATIVE CT-SCAN - McDonald's driver Sebastien Bourdais was ...

HOLE IN THE WALL CAMPS DRIVER JUNQUEIRA FINISHED SECOND IN THE CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF CLEVELAND; McDONALD'S DRIVER BOURDAIS WAS RELEASED FROM CLEVELAND METRO HEALTH HOSPITAL AFTER NEGATIVE CT-SCAN

- McDonald's driver Sebastien Bourdais was transported to and subsequently released from Cleveland's Metro Health Hospital following a scary opening lap crash that saw Paul Tracy's race car launch over Bourdais and roll over his helmet. Bourdais was transported via ambulance to hospital for precautionary CT Scans that were negative for damage and he was released before the end of the race. He will remain in Cleveland overnight and take his regularly scheduled flight home to St. Petersburg, Fla. Monday morning. He collected three points for his 18th place finish and was able to maintain the points lead over Justin Wilson (166-140) who crashed after a part broke on his race car and finished in 13th place. Following are Bourdais post race comments:

"I was slowly fading away (passing out) as the pressure (from the bottom of Tracy's race car) was increasing," said Bourdais. "Maybe his tire hit me when he came up but it was the bottom of his car that was on top of my head. I probably lost a little consciousness because by the time the whole thing stopped I didn't know if it was a dream or where I was, what happened. I couldn't put everything together. For example I don't remember (assistant team manager) Kenny (Siwieck) calling me three times or answering him. At some point I started coming out of it and saw people running toward the car. I don't know what happened; I haven't seen the video so I can't comment too much. I know I didn't change my line but don't know how Tracy got on my head. That's what can happen when you race wheel to wheel. I got turned around and the next thing I knew was that there was a car on top of my head. He missed the rollbar and was pushing me down into the cockpit; I was the shock absorber for him. I must have started losing consciousness then because the next thing I remember was being stopped in the grass and people coming at me. The design of the cars really helped me because your head is not sticking out much. If it was Nigel's car (that he drove prior to the race morning warmup) from 10 years ago I would have been in trouble."

- Hole in the Wall Camps driver Bruno Junqueira drove to a second place finish in the 95-lap Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by U.S. Bank after he gained two positions on the final lap when third place runner Dan Clarke attempted to pass second place Mario Dominguez and the two made contact. Junqueira got a good start to the wild race that would see an event-high nine caution periods. He gained a couple of positions on the start before he was hit in the rear immediately before a separate violent multi-car accident that saw Paul Tracy's race car launch over the race car of Junqueira's teammate Bourdais, and roll over his helmet. During the caution Junqueira pitted on Lap 3 to replace his rear wing that had been knocked off during the contact but had to continue with damage to his right sidepod that would hinder the aerodynamic properties of his race car. Due to the timing of a caution flag he was able to get back on the lead lap and was the last running car in 15th place. Near the end of the 10-lap caution period the team called him into the pits to top off his fuel in the hope that it would pay off later.

Once back on track, he steadily moved up to tenth place by Lap 16 and into eighth during the third caution period of the race to clear debris from contact between Nicky Pastorelli and Tracy. The majority of the field pitted and Junqueira took over the race lead, which he held for three laps before he was passed after the restart by polesitter A.J. Allmendinger who battled back from an opening lap spin. He held second place until he and the majority of the field made their next pit stop on Lap 39 during the fourth caution period for Tonis Kasemets who spun and stalled. He returned to the race in fifth place but third of those who had stopped. He continued on through another caution for Paul Tracy who tagged the wall and retired from the event before he moved into fourth on Lap 50 when he passed previous third place runner Justin Wilson. When the top two cars of Alex Tagliani and Nelson Philippe made their out-of-sequence stops he moved into second on Lap 56 which he held until the next caution period came out for Andrew Ranger, who spun and stalled.

When the pits opened, race leader Allmendinger made a pit stop but because it was too soon for Junqueira's final pit stop, he stayed on track and took over the lead for the next eight laps through the restart. He relinquished the position when he made his final stop on Lap 73 and returned to the race in ninth place. He was up to sixth place by Lap 78 and into fourth by Lap 80 when two cars made their final stops. He kept the pressure on third place runner Dan Clark and ran within one-to-two seconds of him but was unable to get close enough to attempt a pass. After the white flag came out to signal the final lap, Clarke made a move on Dominguez which resulted in contact and Junqueira was able to get past the melee and took the checkered flag in second place. He collected 27 points for his finish and one point for leading the race to move him up to eighth place in the point standings with a total of 87, within 12 of fourth place Andrew Ranger. Following are his post race comments:

"That was the best second place finish ever!" said Junqueira. "It was a very exciting race today. I had a very good start from seventh. I was on the back straight, and I felt someone hit my back when I was full throttle. Then I looked in the mirror, I had no rear wing. I did turn (turns) three and four a bit sideways, then the yellow came out so at least I would not lose a lot. We changed a new wing, a few other parts of the car, then we were a lap down. Then after the next yellow, we were able to get back the lap down, were able to pass some people on the restart. The car wasn't too good, but we were able to go forward and pass a little bit of people that were not that fast. Saving fuel, doing different strategy than the leaders put me in the lead of the race. Sometimes I went to P9, sometimes P1 or P2. At the end of the race I was P2, so I'm quite happy to finish second. As I said, I raced the whole race with a race car with a lot of parts missing, so it was really hard to drive, to keep it on the track. I was able to do it and finish. I'm quite happy for me and the whole Newman/Haas team. They did a great job. It's not easy to change a rear wing in a few seconds like they did. The car was all right. So thanks a lot for the team. At the start of the year, we had good qualifying but terrible results. I didn't have the best qualifying session, and had the best result so I think that was a big boost for the team. It put us in a better position in the championship so I also can keep fighting for the points and for the wins in the next race."

-nhr

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Bruno Junqueira , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Mario Dominguez , Sébastien Bourdais , Nelson Philippe , Andrew Ranger , Tonis Kasemets , Nicky Pastorelli , Daniel Clarke