CHAMPCAR/CART: Denver: Team Rahal preview

Jourdain brings momentum from Montreal win to Denver HILLIARD, OH . . . Riding the momentum of his second career win last weekend at Montreal, Team Rahal's Champ Car driver Michel Jourdain Jr. heads west to Colorado this week for the Centrix ...

Jourdain brings momentum from Montreal win to Denver

HILLIARD, OH . . . Riding the momentum of his second career win last weekend at Montreal, Team Rahal's Champ Car driver Michel Jourdain Jr. heads west to Colorado this week for the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver. Jourdain won the Molson Indy Montreal with a brilliant drive on the 2.079 mile Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve.

The win allowed Jourdain to gain ground on Champ Car World Series points leader Paul Tracy and to close within seven points of championship runner-up Bruno Junqueira. Jourdain has been quite frank about the need to beat Tracy if he is to revive his championship hopes.

Since Jourdain won his first race at Milwaukee on May 31st, Tracy had outscored the 26-year-old Mexican 125-80. Jourdain now hopes to reverse that trend and close the gap in the final five races.

"Montreal was a big win for the Gigante team, because it can set the tone for the rest of the season," said Jourdain. "There are still five races to go and it won't be easy but we can catch Paul. I can't worry about what he is doing, I can only control my team and my car and try to maximize our points and run as strong as possible. We need to win and we need to be on the podium. Our goal is to be on the podium every race the rest of the year. It won't be easy but that is what we have to do if we are going to have a chance at the championship."

Jourdain's win at Montreal snapped a four race streak without a podium, his longest stint of the season. Jourdain and his Gigante crew are hoping that the win at Montreal will spark a run similar to the run Jourdian had in early June when he was the dominate car at Milwaukee, Laguna Seca and Portland. The problem during that stretch was that despite having a dominate car, Jourdian found the podium just once (Milwaukee).

"One of the biggest differences we have seen in Michel this season is the confidence he has in himself and the team," said three-time series champion and Team Rahal owner Bobby Rahal. "As a driver that confidence builds and you get the feeling there is nothing you can't do. If Michel gets on a roll he is capable of winning multiple races. It is getting to crunch time in the season and the champion will be the one who handles the pressure and responds with results."

This week Jourdain is vying to become only the second driver in Team Rahal history to win back-to-back races. Kenny Brack drove the Shell car to consecutive wins at Motegi and Milwaukee in 2001. Brack went on to finish second in the championship that season, Team Rahal's highest finish since Rahal won the title in 1992.

MISTER CONSISTENT CLAIMS HIS SECOND WIN

Michel Jourdain Jr. has made consistency his calling card since he joined Team Rahal prior to the 2002 season. Last season Jourdain posted points paying results in his first 17 events with Team Rahal, establishing a team record for consecutive points paying finishes. This year he ran his point streak to 11 straight, matching Bobby Rahal for the second longest streak in team history, before posting a pointless DNF at Elkhart Lake. Prior to joining Team Rahal in 2002, Jourdain had never posted points in more than two consecutive races.

In 33 races with Team Rahal, Jourdain has posted points 30 times (90.6%). He has collected two wins, six podium, 14 top-five results and 25 top-ten finishes.

A year ago Jourdain led the series in laps completed (2,368) and miles logged (4,238). Jourdain enters the race at Montreal once again as the series leader in laps completed (1,532) and miles logged (2,754). Since joining Team Rahal Jourdain has completed 99% of the laps in the series.

JOURDAIN CREDITS QUALIFYING SUCCESS

One of the keys for Jourdain in '03 has been his qualifying success. Through the first 14 races of 2003 Jourdain's average starting position was fifth, as opposed to an average starting slot of 14th in 2002. Having started in the top-five in ten of the 14 races allowed the steady Jourdain move to the front of the points chase, and has made the Gigante pit crew, the defending Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge champions, a significant weapon in the success of the #9 car.

At Montreal Jourdain started fourth, his eighth start from the front two rows this season.

Jourdain has three front-row starts in 2003 including his first Champ Car career pole position at Long Beach in April. At Laguna Seca he won the pole position on track, but was stripped of the pole winning time when his car failed technical inspection. He started 13th and finished fourth.

Jourdain started 15th at Denver in 2002 and brought the Gigante car home in ninth.

TEAM RAHAL'S SINGLE CAR TITLE QUEST

Jourdain and the Gigante team are vying to become the first single car entry to win the Champ Car World Series championship since Jacques Villeneuve with Players in 1995. Only three have won the title with a single entry, including Bobby Rahal in Team Rahal's first year of operation 1992. Jourdain enters Montreal trailing points leader Paul Tracy by 35 points.

TEAM RAHAL CLAIMS FIRST CANADIAN WIN

Team Rahal ended a decade of frustration last week when Jourdain claimed the team's first win on Canadian soil. Team Rahal was founded in 1992 as Rahal/Hogan Racing and in the team's 26 previous trips to Canada (Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Trois Rivieres), the team had never won.

JOURDAIN 2003 vs. 2002 vs. Career

Michel Jourdain Jr. enters this weeks Centrex Financial Grand Prix of Denver with a career high 157 points this season. Jourdain surpassed his 2002 point total (105) in just ten races. Last season Jourdain averaged 5.5 points per race. In 2003 Jourdain and the Gigante team are currently averaging 11.2 points per race. Jourdain had just 61 points in his first six Champ Car seasons. In his first seven seasons in Champ Car Jourdain posted 166 points in 121 races. With a top-five result this weekend Jourdain would surpass his combined point total for his first seven seasons in 2003 alone. Since the start of the 2002 season when he joined Team Rahal, Jourdian has amassed 262 points in the Champ Car World Series.

Jourdain is on pace to post 212 points this season. In the last ten years only five Champ Car drivers have posted 200 points in a season and four of the five have won the championship. This season three drivers (Jourdain, Junqueira and Tracy) are all on pace to post 200 points.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Bobby Rahal , Paul Tracy , Kenny Brack , Michel Jourdain