History in the Making Drama and tension unfolded and the pressure was off at the start of the Champ Car World Series race number four at Portland International Raceway in Oregon today. The concerns expressed by many of the drivers for the ...
History in the Making
Drama and tension unfolded and the pressure was off at the start of the Champ Car World Series race number four at Portland International Raceway in Oregon today.
The concerns expressed by many of the drivers for the standing start were swept away with a spectacular standing start to begin what would become Sebastien Bourdais' 100th win for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.
The start was clean, we saw cars three wide heading into Turn 1, historically in Portland the Festival Curves (Turn 1) has always been the scene of a melee at the start of the race.
Champ Car Vice President of Operations Tony Cotman's confidence to his decision for standing starts and his drivers abilities was correct as his insight was that the cars would be slowed down enough to all make it through Turn 1, and that they did, quite the accomplishment, races are never won in the first turn on the start of a race.
One of the most vocal drivers extremely concerned with the standing starts, Sebastien Bourdais, #1 McDonalds Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, gave his team their 100th win. Bourdais felt that "it was pretty even for the first five laps of the stint, but his tires went off quicker than ours", referring to Wilson. When he stopped for his second pit stop, Bourdais' inner senses told him "I can smell blood here coming". His team had short filled the car on an earlier pit stop and he was on hot tires and was able to get past Wilson on lap 56 who was struggling with tire gremlins.
"Pretty sweet win, No.100 for the team. just very, very honoured to be a part of this," Bourdais announced.
As many of Bourdais' predecessors with Newman/Haas/Lanigan sent congratulations, one of the legend drivers Mario Andretti (1983-1994) reflected back on his days with the team. "I think Newman/Haas racing has achieved so much success because Carl and Paul have always known the important ingredients of a team. They never spared any expense to arm themselves with the best people they could find to operate the team. That's their secret and it should be an example for anyone to follow."
These sentiments were expressed by the many stars that have driven and won races for the team.
Although Bourdais did not lead the field into Turn 1, Justin Wilson #9 CDW/RSPORTS took command of the race after a good start. "I got a little too much wheel spin," admitted the Brit.
But that did not deter him from pulling off a considerable lead after the first lap. Wilson led for the first half of the race but was unable to keep the pace after his second pit stop.
"I was expecting to pick up the pace, it never happened," Wilson said. "Sebastian slowly ate into my lead and eventually after the second pit stop he managed to get me." Wilson was happy with his team and was pleased to get on the podium in second place.
Robert Doornbos, #14 Minardi Team USA, completed the podium with his third place finish. "I'm very happy for our finish today, even though it's not the podium position that I wanted. The start was how I expected it to be, everyone was making such a big fuss about it. I got a better launch than Justin (Wilson) but then I got a bit too excited and missed a shift in the Festival Turns."
Doornbos had come out of the pits on cold tires and shortcut the course having to give the position back to Will Power in the #5 Team Australia car after Power beat him out of the pits.
Many stories unfolded behind the chase for the win, "Speedy" Dan Clarke in the #4 Minardi Team USA struggled through his day and caused frustration to those racing with him. Clarke had not done very much testing and displayed some questionable racing protocols when trying to stay in front of rookie Graham Rahal (#4 Medi Zone).
Rahal was frustrated as "the start was difficult for me, I had a bad start anyway. Apart from the race not going well but once we caught up to "stupid Dan", which is what I'm going to call him from now on, he just drove me off the road and that was that." The deviation of Clarke was not missed by the eyes of Race Control and he was warned that if "used more track than he needed to", he would be penalized. All in all Rahal feels that they "missed it this weekend. We'll get better."
Simon Pagenaud, #15 Aussie Vineyards, had a similar experience with Clarke at the start of the race "Our launch in the start was pretty good and then bloody Dan Clarke made a bonsai move again, as usual, and I saw that he was too fast going in and I didn't have a choice I had to shortcut the chicane or he would nail me."
Even with the one hassle, Pagenaud enjoyed the race, his car was fantastic and he is looking forward to the race in Cleveland.
Paul Tracy's return to action in thee #3 Forsythe Championship Racing was a struggle this weekend after being out of the car due to his incident in Long Beach back in April. Tracy, after his crash on Friday morning, was asked if he was suffering from any pain replied, "Pain is in my ego". Tracy spun in the infield during the race today which then forced the team to utilize an alternate pit strategy.
Tracy fought his way from the back of the pack to 10th place today. "Our car wasn't really fast enough to capitalize on being in clean air, after five or six laps the tires just went away. We just struggled."
Two milestones have been achieved at the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland, a successful journey into the standing start procedure as well as the 100th race win for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.
We will look forward to what the future will bring for the Champ Car World Series as the season begins its full swing with eight races in nine weeks.