CHAMPCAR/CART: Milwaukee: NHR race report

Pacificare Driver Junqueira Took Championship Lead with Sixth Place Finish on the Time Warner Cable Road Runner 250 at the Milwaukee Mile; Mcdonald's driver Bourdais Crashed While Fifth - PacifiCare driver Bruno Junqueira was disappointed with...

Pacificare Driver Junqueira Took Championship Lead with Sixth Place Finish on the Time Warner Cable Road Runner 250 at the Milwaukee Mile; Mcdonald's driver Bourdais Crashed While Fifth

- PacifiCare driver Bruno Junqueira was disappointed with his 10th place start in the 250-lap Time Warner Road Runner 250 at the Milwaukee Mile but made up for it by taking over the lead in the championship standings with a sixth place finish. He held his 10th place position at the beginning of the 8 p.m. start, the only night event or oval race on the schedule. A yellow flag came out on L1 for a caution period to remove debris from the car of Justin Wilson who spun but continued. During the caution Junqueira dropped to 11th place when Oriol Servia passed him.

The race was resumed on Lap 5 and Junqueira dropped to 12th place when A.J. Allmendinger passed him on Lap 21. He moved back into 11th place on Lap 24 but was one lap down to the leader Ryan Hunter-Reay. In preparation for his first pit stop he reported to the crew that he was experiencing understeer and that the car became loose when he closed on traffic. On Lap 50 the yellow flag was brought out for Sebastien Bourdais who made contact with the Turn 4 wall and continued into his pit.

Junqueira made the first of four mandatory pit stops every 59 laps on Lap 53 and returned to the race in eighth place. He moved up to seventh when Rodolfo Lavin pitted on Lap 57. The race was restarted on Lap 59 but the caution again came out due to Paul Tracy's crash on the restart. By Lap 61, he was in sixth place but was passed by Allmendinger and dropped back to seventh on Lap 64. On Lap 83 rookie Gaston Mazzacane brought out a 17-lap caution period when he crashed in Turn 1. At this time, only three cars remained on the lead lap. During the caution, the field made their second pit stops and Junqueira came in on Lap 89 in seventh place but returned to the track in sixth place after having passed Allmendinger. He moved into fifth place on Lap 95 after Mario Dominguez pit and held the position until Lap 140 when Allmendinger passed him on track.

He made his third pit stop on Lap 148 and returned to the race in the same position of sixth place, which he held until his fourth and final pit stop on Lap 190. He maintained the position until he took the checkered flag two laps down to the winner Ryan Hunter-Reay after 250 laps. He earned a total of 19 points for his sixth place finish and moved into the lead in the Championship standings with a total of 76 points over Patrick Carpentier, who has 75. Following are his post race comments:

"My goal for the weekend was to finish in the top-three and leave here with the championship lead," said Junqueira. "We finished sixth but at least we put the PacifiCare team in the lead. The car wasn't that good. I'm not sure what happened but we are missing something. On the first stint the car was not there so I thought I shouldn't push it and risk crashing. We made some changes but the car never really got much better so we just hung in there until the end. It was worth it because we were able to take over the lead. The championship this year is about consistently finishing in the top-five so you have to get as many positions as you can. Ryan was hooked up today - he deserved to win. I'm looking forward to returning to Portland because I know we have a competitive car there."

- McDonald's driver Sebastien Bourdais started the Time Warner Cable Road Runner 250 at the legendary Milwaukee Mile in second place but crashed in Turn 4 on Lap 49 of 250 laps and retired in 18th place due to damage. He dropped from the lead of the point standings to fourth place with 62 points (14 behind first place) after three of 16 events. In his first experience with single-car qualifying on a one-mile oval, Bourdais qualified a strong second. At the start of the 250-lap race at 8:00 p.m. CST, Bourdais dropped from second into fifth place after the cars of Patrick Carpentier, Mario Dominguez and Paul Tracy passed him. He later reported that he shifted from second to third but experienced a lack of increased power. He temporarily dropped to sixth place when Rodolfo Lavin passed him but he moved back into fifth on Lap 35 when he and Lavin passed Mario Dominguez. On Lap 49 he lost control of the car and made contact with the wall in Turn 4. He returned to the pits but the team determined the car sustained too much damage to repair and return to the race. Following are his post race comments:

"When Lavin went low I was already low," said Bourdais. "He took all of the downforce from my car I it just went straight. I crashed but that's part of the job. It's tough to get experience on an oval when we only race on one per year. I'm not worried about the points now. Obviously it was good to put the McDonald's car in the front of the standings but there is still a lot of season ahead. I was just trying to make it to the first pit stop. On the start I dropped from second to fifth. I was in second gear and was running too high of revs so I went to third hoping it would accelerate but it didn't and cars passed me."

- Up Next...The series will take the following week off before travelling to the West Coast for the race at Portland International Raceway. Junqueira finished fourth last season while Bourdais was in third when his rear wing mount failed near the end of the race. The team has six wins and three poles at the track with the most recent wins and pole coming in 2002 by Cristiano da Matta.

-nhr-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Gaston Mazzacane , Justin Wilson , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Mario Dominguez , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Rodolfo Lavin , Cristiano da Matta