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

McDONALD'S DRIVER BOURDAIS FINISHED SECOND IN THE WEST EDMONTON MALL GRAND PRIX PRESENTED BY THE BRICK; JUNQUEIRA RETIRED IN 15TH AFTER HE LOST HIS GEARBOX McDonald's driver Sebastien Bourdais maintained his pre-race 23-point lead over second ...

McDONALD'S DRIVER BOURDAIS FINISHED SECOND IN THE WEST EDMONTON MALL GRAND PRIX PRESENTED BY THE BRICK; JUNQUEIRA RETIRED IN 15TH AFTER HE LOST HIS GEARBOX

McDonald's driver Sebastien Bourdais maintained his pre-race 23-point lead over second place in the Champ Car World Series after leading a race-high 55 laps of the 85-lap West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix Presented by the Brick but finished second to Justin Wilson. He earned his 22nd pole in the series on Saturday and started from the top spot on Sunday during the third straight day of record temperatures in the high 90's. He started the race on the red alternate Bridgestone tires and maintained the position through two restarts from caution periods and built a gap of 9.4 seconds over second place Paul Tracy before his first pit stop on Lap 35. During the stop he took on a full fuel load and the standard black Bridgestone tires and returned to the track. Once Tracy and third place runner Justin Wilson made their first stops two laps later he regained the lead although he was now ahead of Wilson who apparently took on less fuel and beat Tracy out of the pits.

At the beginning of the stint Bourdais was 7.4 seconds ahead of Wilson but the Englishman, on the softer red Bridgestone tires, reeled him in and closed to less than a second by Lap 48. The handling of the car was not as good as the first stint on the softer compound "alternate" tires but Bourdais and company continued to attempt to improve.

On Lap 54 Wilson successfully passed Bourdais in Turn 9 with the help of the Ford-Cosworth Push to Pass button but Bourdais continued to stay close to Wilson and reclaimed the lead when Wilson pit on Lap 61.

Bourdais subsequently set the fastest lap of the race thus far on Lap 62 and was on his "in-lap" on 63 when he approached the car of 10th place runner Alex Tagliani who was now in 13th place after coming out of the pits. Tagliani slowed in Turn 5 and continued at a slower pace through Turn 7 where Bourdais drove alongside him to make the pass. After Bourdais was one-half a car length ahead, Tagliani's car touched Bourdais in the tight corner and Bourdais was able to continue while Tagliani drove into the tires. Bourdais lost approximately four seconds due to the move and entered the pits for his final stop of fuel and a set of red Bridgestone tires.

Because he stretched his fuel longer than Wilson and set fast lap times to gain track position while Wilson pitted, he would have had the opportunity to gain the lead after the pit cycle but the incident with Tagliani and subsequent caution period negated the possibility and he returned to the track in second place.

For the restart Wilson had approx. 10 second of Push to Pass left while Bourdais and third place runner A.J. Allmendinger had 48. Unfortunately he was unable to pass Wilson for the lead on the restart on Lap 70 or the following one on Lap 73 after the safety team removed the car of Nelson Philippe who crashed. Bourdais took the checkered flag 5.3-seconds behind Wilson to earn his seventh podium finish of eight races this season. He collected 27 points for his finish and one for leading the race to bring his total to 221 over Justin Wilson who has 198.

Following are his post race comments:

"It really felt like we had two races today," said Bourdais. "The first stint, the McDonald's car was awesome, I was feeling very comfortable. I could manage the tire wear, was really having great balance. That was on the red Bridgestone tires. You know, everything seemed to be quite in control. Then we put the blacks on, and I don't know whether it's the tire or it's the track that picked up more grip. We went out with brand-new tires, and for some reason we completely lost the handling. I wasn't really expecting that at all. We really suffered. We were suffering quite a huge understeer. The rear grip wasn't there either; I was sliding all over. Justin just ran me down. For some reason, the car kind of came back to life at the end of this second stint. I was getting to be a little hopeful again because I saw Justin pitting and we were going to go some three or four laps further. I wasn't looking bad at that point.

(on incident with Alex:)

"Unfortunately, I don't know what happened with Alex. He nearly lost it coming into five, ran slow in six. When we got to seven, I was side by side with him. He just completely didn't see me, I guess. He turned and we had contact. I lost some four seconds on that lap. We came out of the pits after that a little behind Justin, but we would have stood a chance to get him if we hadn't had the problem with Alex. That's probably when we lost the race. You know, that's racing. But we just, in the meantime, got a little lucky not to break down right there, because that was quite a hard contact. After that, you know, I guess I could have tried a little harder to try and stay with Justin, but I was starting to be a little tired in the end. The car was still not completely there for me. It was probably safer to just hold on to second place and get the checkered flag, so that's what we did. We managed to get a podium finish out of it. The good thing for the championship is obviously we're coming out of this event, even if we don't win it, with the same point lead. Not the same chaser any more, but it's still 23 over the second-place guy. It's not comfortable, but it's better than being chasing the guy in front of you. We'll take it. Now we'll have to turn things around in places where we usually are pretty good. Looking forward to San Jose and Denver and Montr0x00e9al where we've been very, very quick. We'll see what happens."

Hole in the Wall Camps driver Bruno Junqueira retired from the 85-lap West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix Presented by the Brick today in 15th place after he recovered from an opening lap spin only to succumb to gearbox trouble which appeared during his first full pit stop and was insurmountable after the following one. At the start of the race, Junqueira gained three positions but spun in Turn 1 but did not make contact with anything. Simultaneously Cristiano da Matta's car ran into the tire wall and the caution flag was brought out.

After Junqueira was restarted he notified the team that his car was not damaged and he continued on track in 17th place without losing a lap. On the second lap the team brought him in to top off his fuel as he was the last running car. He stayed on the lead lap and gained four positions on the restart on Lap 3.

The second caution of the day took place on Lap 5 when rookies Jan Heylen and Nicky Pastorelli made contact. Junqueira gained another position on the restart and was in 11th place which he held until his first full pit stop on Lap 22 where he took on fuel and a new set red alternate Bridgestone tires and returned to the race in 14th place after a slight hesitation when he attempted to leave his pit box -- something that would be associated with his retirement later in the race. He temporarily went one lap down but got back on the lead lap as the front runners made their next stops and was in 11th place until Lap 46 when he moved into 10th place but was passed by leader Bourdais on Lap 47 and again went one lap down.

On Lap 54 he made his second pit stop for a full fuel load and third overall but was unable to leave his pit due to a broken gearbox. He completed 54 of 85 laps to earn six points for his 15th place finish and maintain his ninth place rank in the series standings after Round 8 of 14.

On the Following are his post race comments:

"I think we broke first gear on the first pit stop," said Junqueira. "I don't know if I had too much revs or if it just broke. It's frustrating because we needed to get some points and we had a good car."

STANDING ROOM ONLY...

Today's attendance of 62,921 pushed the three-day attendance figure to 171,391. This is the third-highest attendance figure ever posted from a Canadian race.

-Newman/Haas Racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Bruno Junqueira , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Nelson Philippe , Jan Heylen , Nicky Pastorelli , Cristiano da Matta