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

Bourdais/Junqueira Finish 1-2 in Mexico - McDonald's ® driver Sebastien Bourdais, 25, gained redemption in the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix with a victory from pole after a disappointing race here last year when he also started on pole...

Bourdais/Junqueira Finish 1-2 in Mexico

- McDonald's ® driver Sebastien Bourdais, 25, gained redemption in the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix with a victory from pole after a disappointing race here last year when he also started on pole but a faulty radio and contact limited his finish to 17th place after having led the first 16 laps. It was the third victory for Newman/Haas Racing in the four-year history of the event as well as their 74th. At the midway point in the race the outcome looked likely to be decided by pit strategy and the timing of earlier yellows, which favored four drivers who pitted well before the rest of the field. Fortunately the dominant drivers finished up front. The victory enabled Bourdais to take the points lead for the first time in his Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford career with a total of 62 points over teammate Bruno Junqueira who has 57. It was the first 1-2 finish for Newman/Haas Racing since Junqueira and Bourdais finished 1-2, respectively, in Denver in August 2003 and the fourth Champ Car victory for Bourdais in addition to his first since last season's race in Cleveland.

Bourdais set the fastest time in Friday's qualifying session and earned his second consecutive pole in Monterrey as well as bettered his track record from 2003. The event started at 3 p.m. CST with ambient temperatures as high as 95 degrees and a track temperature of 128 degrees. Bourdais held the lead from the start and through four caution periods until his first of two mandatory green-flag pit stops on Lap 26. The outside rear tire changer dropped the lug nut and the pit stop took 14 seconds before he was able to return to the track. He rejoined the race in 12th place behind drivers who had yet to make their first stop and four who had pitted out of sequence from the majority of the field earlier. He moved up to fifth place once the entire field had pitted by Lap 33. Patrick Carpentier, Mario Dominguez, Rodolfo Lavin and Alex Sperafico, who had pitted earlier, benefited from the timing of caution flags and unless another caution flag fell before their next pit stop, their pit strategy would have enabled them to drastically improve their finishing position. By constantly improving his lap time, which was already the fastest of the race so far, Bourdais closed on fifth place runner Alex Sperafico on Lap 32 and fourth place Rodolfo Lavin by Lap 38 before successfully passing him on Lap 40. The caution period from Laps 41- 44 for the crashed car of Oriol Servia was a pivotal point in the race as it erased the advantage of the four drivers had who had pitted earlier than the majority and bunched the field together. The race was restarted on Lap 44 and when temporary race leader Carpentier made his second pit stop on Lap 47 Bourdais moved to third place then into second behind teammate Junqueira on Lap 48 when Dominguez pitted. Bourdais was running faster lap times than his teammate and when race leader Junqueira made his final stop on Lap 52, Bourdais temporarily regained the lead and ran as fast as he could to gain track position before his second pit stop on Lap 53. He rejoined the race in fifth place and moved back into the lead on Lap 56 once the field had completed their second stops. He held the lead through a final restart on Lap 64 and took the checkered flag after 72 laps. He led 43 of 72 laps and earned a total of 35 points for his victory as well as one point for leading the race and one point for setting the fastest race lap. He moved from his pre-race rank in the point standings to the lead with a total of 62 points over Junqueira, 57, and Paul Tracy, 49. Following are his post race comments:

"I am obviously really happy with our results today," said a dehydrated Bourdais. "The McDonald's Newman/ Haas Racing crew has been absolutely terrific. I really wanted to win at this track this year because we were so close last year. The McDonald's car was great all weekend, I really couldn't have asked for more. It was challenging with all the rule changes, but we did our best. It was the right fit here at this track, and I really love this track. It was a good feeling to win in front such a big crowd. It is nice to be the Championship leader at this time; however, it is still way too early. The main goal is to stay in the top five and keep consistency throughout the season. I think both Bruno and I should be fighting each other for the lead at the end. It is definitely a great start getting on the podium for my first time this season with a win here. It is even better having a 1-2 finish here for Newman/Haas. The Bridgestone's were great. We were a little concerned after the warm-up - we had a rear-tire wear issue, but we corrected the set-up and in the race they were just so good. As we moved through the pack, they were very consistent and that is great for us."

- PacifiCare driver Bruno Junqueira, 27, started in fourth place in the 72-lap Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix and drove to his second, second-place finish in as many races this season and capped a 1-2 finish for Newman/Haas Racing. At the start of the event, Junqueira passed third place starter Justin Wilson for the position and held it until he moved into second place when local favorite Mario Dominguez lost control of his car and dropped to the back of the field. Junqueira held second place and built a gap between himself and the field through four caution periods and subsequent restarts before he temporarily took the lead of the race on Lap 26 once race leader Bourdais made his first of his two mandatory green flag pit stops on Lap 26. Junqueira headed to the pits on the following lap for his first stop. He returned to the race in 10th place behind those who had yet to make their first stops and four drivers who had pitted between Laps 16-19. After the round of stops were completed he moved his way back up to fifth place by Lap 31 and was behind race leader Patrick Carpentier, Mario Dominguez, Rodolfo Lavin and Alex Sperafico who had all pitted earlier than the rest of the field. He moved passed Sperafico on Lap 32 and began closing on Lavin before successfully passing him on Lap 38 for third place. On Lap 47 temporary race leader Carpentier pitted for his second and final stop and Junqueira moved into second behind Dominguez who made his final stop on Lap 48 which gave Junqueira the lead. On Lap 52 Junqueira came in for his final stop and turned the lead over to Bourdais who ran one more lap before he pitted. He returned to the race in sixth place but on the following lap was behind Bourdais who had pitted one lap later thus gained valuable track position by running a fast "in" lap with hot tires and low fuel load. After the final pit cycle ended Bourdais and Junqueira returned to the front of the field and maintained the order through the sixth and final caution period from Laps 63-64 until the checkered flag after 72 laps. Junqueira took the checkered flag 3.852-seconds behind Bourdais and earned a total of 28 points for his second place finish including one for leading five laps of the race. Following are his post race comments:

"I think the result was very good for the whole PacifiCare Newman/Haas team, and actually, the McDonald's Newman/Haas team as well," said Junqueira, who like his teammate, was dehydrated and exhausted after the race. "It was a great result, finishing 1-2 on the podium with Sebastien. It was a good race. Everyone had different pit strategies, which made it interesting and a bit of a challenge. It was a close race between me and Sebastien, thanks to a great effort from both of the Newman/Haas squads. It was a really difficult race, especially because off the pit stops. I think it was a good race between me and Sebastien. We were much faster than everybody else. He drove really well and set a really fast pace. I'm pretty happy with the result. The Bridgestone tires were really good. I maintained a clean race, keeping all four tires on the track. I am happy with the results. It is great to obtain these points."

- Sebastien's Win Was...Today's victory was the fourth for Bourdais in the series ('03 - England, Germany, Cleveland and TODAY)...It was his second race here. Bourdais won his second pole in the series in Monterrey in 2003 as well as set a track record. He led the first 16 laps but a faulty radio led to a missed pit stop. Also had a troubled pit stop and later brushed the wall entering the pits, which ultimately led to retire from the race in 17th place...NHR has won THREE of the FOUR races at this track (Da Matta 2001 & 2002, Bourdais TODAY) and TWO poles (Bourdais '03 & '04). They now have earned a total of FIVE podium finishes here (2nd place Junqueira 2004, 3rd place Fittipaldi 2002)...Beginning with Cristiano da Matta's victory in Australia of '01, NHR has won 15 of the past 41 races.

- Record Attendance on Race Day in Monterrey...Sunday's race-day crowd of 94,514 bettered last year's race day crowd at Fundidora Park. The three-day total for this year's race was 183,311, giving Champ Car a total attendance of over 350,000 fans after two events.

- Up Next...Newman/Haas Racing will make it's 14th start in the Indianapolis 500 on May 30 with driver Bruno Junqueira piloting the No. 36 PacifiCare/Secure Horizons Honda/G-Force/Firestone entry. The following weekend the series will head to the famed Milwaukee Mile at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds for the Time Warned Cable Road Runner 250 on June 5.

-nhr-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Mario Dominguez , Sébastien Bourdais , Rodolfo Lavin , Alex Sperafico , Cristiano da Matta