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



McDonald's driver Sebastien Bourdais entered the 105-lap G.I. Joe's Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland with an opportunity to earn a history making fifth consecutive win but the race did not get off to a good start as he was in sixth place when the green flag flew rather than his third place qualifying position and fought back to a hard earned, yet disappointing third place. The start of the race was waived off because the Race Director determined that the field was not in proper formation and the first lap ran under caution. When the field entered the front straight they were even less orderly but the green flag was thrown and Bourdais crossed the start/finish line in sixth place before he fell another place as he and drivers that started on the inside scrambled to save their positions. The team employed a fuel conservation strategy in an effort to regain positions by running longer than the opposition on their fuel stints and could hopefully capitalize on restarts although the race would ultimately stay green for the remainder of the event.

Bourdais ran one lap longer than the first two cars and took over the top spot when they came in on Lap 32 before his first stop on Lap 33. He resumed his fuel conservation strategy from fourth place until the next round of stops began and he reclaimed the lead for Laps 63-65 before his second stop on Lap 66, six laps later than second place Wilson and three laps later than Allmendinger. He moved into third place but due to conserving fuel his pursuit of second place Wilson had stretched to 18 seconds but he attempted to close the gap. On Lap 78 Wilson made his final stop and Bourdais moved into second place which he held until he took the lead for one lap while Allmendinger made his final stop on Lap 85. Bourdais pitted on Lap 86 and returned to the track in third place behind Wilson. In the ensuing laps Bourdais began to reel Wilson in and closed to within four-tenths of a second by Lap 102 of 105 but was unable to pass before the checkered flag. He collected 25 points for his third place finish as well as one for leading the event to increase his overall total to 162. His pre-event lead of 31 points decreased by one (162-132).

Following are his post race comments: "I think it was probably the most frustrating race I've ever been a part of right from the beginning," said Bourdais. "You know, if you think the first start was ugly, I think the second one was probably about the worst thing I've ever seen in my life. From there on, after that, you're trying to make up for mistakes that people did to you and the entire line I was part of. So, what can I say? You know, the McDonald's car was probably the class of the field today. You know, we are trying to make a little bit of history here, but I guess some people thought different. We never really got a chance to fight for it. This is the way it is. We'll just move on and see what we can do in Cleveland. But, yeah, quite a frustrating day."

"Well, they keep on throwing the green flag before they can even see things, make any kind of sense of how it looks. So basically if you do that, well, you expose yourself to a really screwed up start. That's what happens every now and then. The first attempt, yeah, it wasn't that pretty. Bruno started pretty early. Everybody wasn't completely there, but at least the order was making sense. AJ was right behind Bruno and I was behind AJ and Cristiano was there, Justin also. I guess it was not the prettiest start ever, but it was all right. The second one, Bruno slowed down quite a bit to pack everybody up, like he was probably instructed to. They threw the green at the same moment as he just kind of backed off a little bit because AJ was starting to be way ahead of him. At that time they threw the green, so Bruno was on the opposite side of what he was supposed to do, and AJ was flat out. All the left line just passed us. By the time I crossed the start/finish line, I probably was sixth. To make things worse, as we were slow on the whole left side, Tracy went around. It was just a mess."

- Hole in the Wall Camps driver Bruno Junqueira lost the lead from his first pole position since 2004 when the 105-lap G.I. Joe's Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland was started while the field was strung out and in ragged order and he ultimately finished fourth. The first start was aborted and Lap 1 was run under caution. The second time by, the green flag was thrown but polesitter Junqueira was not at full throttle and the entire field was not in starting order. Junqueira fell back to fourth place behind new leader A.J. Allmendinger who started second, second place Justin Wilson who started fourth and sixth place starter Dan Clarke who was in third. A conservative fuel strategy would hopefully help him regain positions in an event that traditionally catered to many different fuel strategies and averaged three pit stops. He made his first stop on Lap 32 when leader A.J. Allmendinger and second place runner Justin Wilson pitted and returned to the track in fifth place. He held his position until third place Dan Clarke, who was on an alternate pit strategy made his second stop and Junqueira took over fourth. He moved up to third place by staying on track longer than both the race leader and second place before his second stop on Lap 64. He returned to the track in fourth place and held it through his third and final stop on Lap 87 of 105 and until the end of the event. He took the checkered flag 36 seconds behind first time race winner A.J. Allmendinger to earn his highest finish of the season and collect 23 points to move him up to 10th place in the point standings with a total of 59.

Following are his post race comments:
"In the meeting with the starter, I told him where I was going to accelerate and I was not at full throttle when Race Control decided to throw the green earlier than we talked about," said Junqueira.

"It's a big disappointment because we had to conserve fuel after that and no yellows ever came out to try to regain positions. We were passing cars and setting a good pace despite saving fuel. It's a disappointment the race started the way it did because we could have finished better."


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Bruno Junqueira , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Dan Clarke