Jourdain shines at night; takes maiden victory in historic Milwaukee contest. Michel Jourdain Jr. did everything he needed to win the Milwaukee Mile Centennial 250, leading 233 of 250 laps on the 1.032-mile oval to earn his maiden victory in the...
Jourdain shines at night; takes maiden victory in historic Milwaukee contest.
Michel Jourdain Jr. did everything he needed to win the Milwaukee Mile Centennial 250, leading 233 of 250 laps on the 1.032-mile oval to earn his maiden victory in the Champ Car World Series in his eighth season. Driving the #9 Gigante Lola/Ford/Bridgestone from second starting spot on a chilly Midwestern spring evening, Jourdain was the class of a 19-car field, pacing Oriol Servia's #20 Visteon Lola/Ford to the checkers by a minimal .468 seconds after a late race duel. Patrick Carpentier closed out the all-Lola podium in the #32 Team Player's Lola/Ford, .704 seconds behind the winner.
"The car was just perfect," Jourdain exulted after taking the checkered flags. "Racing at night was wonderful and now I think all our races should be at night. We made the car better on each pit stop, but it was good from the start on Thursday afternoon." Servia, who started the race from 7th position thought, "It was a good race. My car was great, it was quick and it just feels bad not to win when you are that close."
Of his race-long battle with Paul Tracy, who finished 12th after losing a wheel on a late race pit stop, Servia noted, "Paul is not an easy guy to pass, but our battle was definitely hot." Carpentier watched their duel, calling it "fun to watch. There were lots of good passes tonight and I had the best seat in the house behind Paul and Oriol. My car was pretty consistent through the race but I couldn't be as aggressive on the restarts as I wanted to because we got a little loose, but it would settle in." There were seven caution periods for a total of 79 laps, four for contact.
Polesitter Alex Tagliani brought the #33 Johnson Controls Lola/Ford home fifth behind Darren Manning, explaining his car "wasn't great in traffic. I decided to keep it steady and keep my distance." Adrian Fernandez earned sixth place with the #51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Lola/Ford but called his race, "Probably too conservative. We made some changes and the car was better. My main concern was cold tires, not driving at night and that was the trickiest part for me."
With his first win, Jourdain assumes the point lead with 77 over Tracy (67). Despite a second lap crash that sent him to the hospital for observation of upper back pain, Bruno Junqueira (#1 PacifiCare Lola/Ford) retains third place with 66 points. Rookie Sebastien Bourdais, who finished ninth in the #2 Lilly Lola/Ford despite having little grip for the 250 laps holds fourth with 53 points while Carpentier lies fifth with 48 points.
The Champ Cars reconvene for the Grand Prix of Monterey at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on June 15th.