On track incident derails dominate Jourdain run at Portland PORTLAND, OR . . . Team Rahal's Gigante driver Michel Jourdain Jr. dominated the first half of Sunday's G.I. Joe's 200, only to see his hopes of victory slip spin away when he and title...
On track incident derails dominate Jourdain run at Portland
PORTLAND, OR . . . Team Rahal's Gigante driver Michel Jourdain Jr. dominated the first half of Sunday's G.I. Joe's 200, only to see his hopes of victory slip spin away when he and title rival Paul Tracy collided in the Festival Curves on lap 45. Jourdain's car spun and stalled dropping the Gigante car off the lead lap and out of contention for the win.
Jourdain was able to continue and he brought home a points paying result of 12th place. The points were not enough to keep Jourdain in the Champ Car World Series points lead as he fell to third overall eight points (99-91) behind Tracy who reclaimed the title lead.
Jourdain was brilliant taking the twice delayed start from pole sitter Tracy and building a second and a half lead on his title rival. Heading into the second of three schedule pit stops Jourdain had led 42 of 44 laps in the race.
Tracy's Players/Forsythe team short filled the car allowing Tracy to make up time in the pits. As Jourdain exited the pit road Tracy dived from his pit box and cut off Jourdain in a move that would later earn the Canadian driver a five-second penalty. Jourdain now running second demonstrated his prowess on cold tires by getting past Tracy heading into the infamous Festival Curves on the next lap. As the two cars fought into the second turn contact spun Jourdain backwards and his car stalled. Tracy was able to continue on his way as the leader.
"I had him [Tracy] on the pass," said Jourdain after the race. "We were on cold tires and he lifted early and I just dived in, it was quite easy. I went to the line and he touched me and I stayed where I was and he just kept pushing, pushing and pushing then he spun me. I had the pass on him. He hit me in the rear of the side pod so I think I had him cleanly. Away from the track Paul and I are very good friends, but on the track nobody is your friend. Hey that was the way he had to beat me today."
Five laps later the Champ Car Chief Steward Chris Kniefel leveled a five second penalty against Tracy for the pit infraction. "You as a driver are supposed to go from the pit box to the first lane not the fast lane, especially if someone is coming," said Jourdain. "I had to slow down because he came into my lane or we both would have hit. They gave him a five-second penalty so obviously the CART officials agreed he did something wrong."
Jourdain fought gamely and the Gigante held out hope that the heavy skies overhead would drop rain on the event causing havoc and providing a chance for Jourdain to reclaim his lost lap. That weather never came despite a couple of brief sprinkles.
Adrian Fernandez took advantage of the five second penalty on Tracy and closed the gap and then he passed Tracy in the very same Festival Curves to claim the victory in Portland. The win was Fernandez first as a driver/owner.
"The Gigante car was just fantastic today," said Jourdain. "I was trying to take care of the car and the tires and I saw we could pull a big gap on third place and that I when I wanted I could pull a gap on Paul. In the end I didn't win. It is disappointing because once again we had a great car and we didn't get the points we deserved. I look back and see the missed points at Long Beach and Laguna Seca and now here and it is disappointing because we worked so hard but now we lose the championship lead. I am very happy for my good friend Adrian [race winner Fernandez]. I know he has been waiting a long time for his first win as an owner/driver so this is a big day for him. Anytime any of the Mexican drivers do well it is great for the sport in Mexico."
The Champ Car World Series will resume in two weeks with the Grand Prix of Cleveland, where Jourdain, Junqueira and Tracy will resume their battle for the Champ Car championship.