McDONALD'S DRIVER BOURDAIS AIMS TO MAKE IT THREE-FOR-THREE IN GRAND PRIX OF SAN JOSE; MEDI | ZONE DRIVER RAHAL LOOKING FOR THIRD PODIUM SAN JOSE, Calif. McDonald's driver Sebastien Bourdais and Medi | Zone driver Graham Rahal are each looking...
McDONALD'S DRIVER BOURDAIS AIMS TO MAKE IT THREE-FOR-THREE IN GRAND PRIX OF SAN JOSE; MEDI | ZONE DRIVER RAHAL LOOKING FOR THIRD PODIUM SAN JOSE, Calif.
McDonald's driver Sebastien Bourdais and Medi | Zone driver Graham Rahal are each looking for a "third" of sorts in the third annual Grand Prix of San Jose at Redback Raceway this weekend. Bourdais reclaimed the Champ Car points lead with his win in last weekend's race in Edmonton and is hoping to earn his third consecutive San Jose win and increase his slim 20-point lead over second place Robert Doornbos (194-174). Rahal also had a strong finish in Edmonton and earned his second podium finish with third place. He's looking for his third podium finish of the season this weekend.
"The McDonald's team has done a really good job both years in San Jose," said Bourdais of his two wins from pole in the two events held in San Jose. "It 's tough to say which San Jose win is my favorite but last year we really had to fight for it. There was a little more activity in the race and a little more passing. I think last year was a better show. Craig (Hampson, engineer) was really on top of things and did a really pretty good job to make the car drivable and easy to drive to not make any mistakes more than anything and that has really been the key. When you start from pole after doing a good job in qualifying you're in pretty good shape for the rest of the weekend."
After eight of 16 races this season, Bourdais has earned four wins and one second place but did not finish three events. He is hoping to finish the remaining events this season and when he has finished, he has usually done it on the podium. Although he has had success on the 1.443-mile temporary street course, he does not consider it an easy one for himself or the McDonald's team.
"It's a tiny little race track but at the same time you really have to hang it all out in qualifying," said Bourdais, who set the fastest lap of the race both years. "It's not particularly low grip, it's pretty bumpy and its really easy to make a mistake like locking up a wheel and ending up in an escape road and that's the last thing you need in qualifying so you've got to stay on your toes. The promoter did a great job to make the track less bumpy than it was the first year. They are still city streets and it's never going to be smooth. The nature of the race track makes it pretty unforgivable which is the biggest challenge."
After earning his second podium finish of the season of third place at the previous race in Edmonton, Medi | Zone driver Graham Rahal, 18, is hoping to continue the momentum. Although Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing's results at this track are a confidence booster going into the weekend he knows that the team will work as hard as ever and not rest of their past success.
"It's good that the team has won both races in San Jose," said Rahal, who will be featured in the upcoming issue of ESPN The Magazine. "As a team, we know that we have a lot of victories everywhere but you can't rely on that because if you do, you get passed up. Obviously the team has got a good setup there and hopefully they can adapt it to the Panoz and we can continue to win there, especially if it's the Medi | Zone team."
Like many races this season, Rahal has experience on this track. He competed in the Champ Car Atlantic championship here last year where he started, and was running in, second place when he made contact with the tire wall and retired in 12th after setting the fastest race lap. Despite the rare end result he is looking forward to returning to the track.
"In the Atlantic race last year I made a mistake coming down the back straight and locked up the rear tires in the brake zone and I could never get them unlocked for some reason," said Rahal. "It's a rare occurrence but it happens at times and I nudged into the tire wall. It was unfortunate because, looking back on it, if I would have finished second, which is where I was, I would have won the championship last year. It was a difficult one for me but certainly I love the track, it's very fast. I'm looking forward to getting on it in the Medi | Zone Champ Car. It will be interesting to see what happens."
The San Jose Grand Prix will be more than a race. It's a week-long festival both on and off the track. Activities include Festival Areas with interactive games, live music, driver autograph sessions, and more. Off-track events include Breakfast at Tiffany's, a drivers' VIP party including the Fan Favorites Award Ceremonies, the CXO Celebrity Go Kart race and the Canary Foundation "Cabana" fundraiser and exotic car show. Proceeds from these events all benefit the Canary Foundation.
Bourdais leads the point standings with 194 while second place Robert Doornbos has 174 and Will Power has 169 while Rahal is ranked eighth with 126 points after Round 8 of 16.
Practice and qualifying will take place on Friday and Saturday with the San Jose Grand Prix at Redback Raceway starting at 3:00 p.m. PT on Sunday. Live coverage of the race will be provided by ESPN2 at 6:00 p.m. ET.