CHAMPCAR/CART: San Jose: Newman/Haas Racing race report

McDONALD'S DRIVER BOURDAIS WON THE TAYLOR WOODROW GRAND PRIX OF SAN JOSE IN TEAM'S 375TH CHAMP CAR RACE; PACIFICARE DRIVER SERVIA FINISHED THIRD McDonald's driver Sebastien Bourdais survived challenging track conditions and tough competition to...

McDONALD'S DRIVER BOURDAIS WON THE TAYLOR WOODROW GRAND PRIX OF SAN JOSE IN TEAM'S 375TH CHAMP CAR RACE; PACIFICARE DRIVER SERVIA FINISHED THIRD

McDonald's driver Sebastien Bourdais survived challenging track conditions and tough competition to earn his third win of the season after leading 63 of 93 laps in the inaugural Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose and increased his 22 point pre-race lead over second place Paul Tracy to 28 after Round 8 of 14 in the Champ Car World Series. It was his third win of the season and his 13TH in the series in his 40th start as well as the 27th win for NHR in 61 races.

To diminish the chance of attrition during what would be a one hour and 45 minute race on the difficult 1.4-mile street course that included a very bumpy surface as well as two trips over transit tracks per lap, Newman/Haas Racing stayed late on Saturday night to completely rebuild both Bourdais and his teammate Servia's race cars and the overtime appeared to have been worth it as both cars not only finished the race, they finished on the podium.

Bourdais started the race under sunny conditions from his third pole of the season and held the lead through the start over second place Oriol Servia and third place Paul Tracy. The first of five cautions came out on Lap 2 when Ricardo Sperafico stopped on course after contact with Ronnie Bremer on the opening lap.

The race was restarted on Lap 5 and Bourdais held his position and began what would turn into a four-second lead over second place Servia before it diminished around Lap 24 when he was held up by backmarker Bjorn Wirdheim. A caution period came out from Laps 26 to 33 to clear debris from Turns 4 and 6 where the track surface was breaking apart slightly.

The majority of the field took advantage of this and made their first pit stops on Lap 28. The McDonald's crew filled Bourdais' car and made a front wing adjustment and sent him back on track in second place behind Ronnie Bremer, who was previously running ninth but didn't stop on Lap 28 due to making a stop during caution on Lap 3. Once the race was restarted Bourdais hung close to Bremer but as he was running a slower pace, the team advised him to try to save enough fuel while still maintaining a lead on Tracy.

On Lap 46 the team gave him to go ahead to use more fuel and try to pull away from Tracy as he was nearing his fuel window. On Lap 48 Bremer finally pitted and Bourdais regained the lead and, more importantly, a clear track immediately in front of him but on Lap 49 he missed the apex and slid into the hairpin which enabled Paul Tracy to close on him although the Canadian was unable to make a pass in the tight corner.

On Lap 51 Bourdais set the fastest lap of the race thus far and increased his lead over Tracy to 1.7-seconds. When nearing his second and final stop he reported to the team on Lap 55 that he had too much understeer and asked for a tire pressure change when he came in. Ryan Hunter-Reay spun and brought out the yellow flag from Laps 58-65 and the frontrunners made their stop on Lap 60. After a quick stop he was able to get back on track ahead of those who pit but was in second place to rookie Wirdheim who had been running eighth and didn't pit with the others.

He held second place through the restart and was less than a second ahead of third place Tracy until Wirdheim pitted on Lap 72. By lap 76 he was able to increase his lead to a slightly more comfortable 1.8-seconds over Tracy and it was then estimated that there could be 20 laps to go in the 1 hour 45 minute timed event. That would shortly change as the fifth and final caution period of the race came out to remove the car of Cristiano da Matta, who added his name to the list of drivers/cars that succumbed to the difficult course on Lap 78. Prior to the restart on Lap 84 the team informed Bourdais of how much Push to Pass he and his competitors had left.

On the restart the frontrunners used part of the 60 second allotment and Bourdais held his position. Champ Car officials estimated there were nine laps left and Bourdais increased his lead over Tracy from 1.1-seconds to 5.8 by Lap 91 after bettering his fastest lap on Lap 90. He took the checkered flag after 93 laps with a margin of 3.7-seconds over Tracy and third place Oriol Servia. He earned 31 points for the victory, one for leading and one for setting the fastest race lap to increase his pre-race lead over second place Tracy from 22 to 28 after Round 8 of 14. Following are his post race comments:

"I'm very happy for the McDonald's crew," said Bourdais. "I think they did an awesome job. I think I was in the preferred position; I just tried to stay there. Although a few guys out of sync definitely didn't make it easy because it was so difficult. I mean, we were saving fuel. Obviously, the guys who were out of sync were not. It was really difficult because if you were trying to pass the guy, you definitely had to pass him, and it felt really difficult. I also had PT behind me waiting to get the best advantage of the smallest mistakes I was going to make. So I just elected to try and be safe, keep saving fuel, and wait for my turn to take the lead back, and more importantly, not to make any mistakes. I think it was the key of the race, the key of the day. It was an extremely demanding course for the mechanical system. Just everything stayed together. That's just by itself a pretty big achievement. A lot of credit to these guys that they worked even later than the RuSPORT guys, which is always something apparently. They pretty much disassembled the car and rebuilt it, just the whole thing, the suspension, the engine. Just pretty much everything. It was quite impressive, actually. My engineer was quite impressed yesterday night.J It feels very good, and I'm just delighted that we seem to be able to get back on a pace closer to what we had last year."

- PacifiCare driver Oriol Servia earned his fifth podium finish in his six races for Newman/Haas Racing after finishing third in today's Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose. On Saturday, he matched his best career start of second place in qualifying on the tight 1.4-mile street course. To diminish the chance of attrition during what would be a one hour and 45 minute race on the difficult 1.4-mile street course that included two trips over transit tracks per lap and a very bumpy surface, Newman/Haas Racing stayed late on Saturday night to completely rebuild Servia and teammate Sebastien Bourdais race cars and the overtime appeared to have been worth it as both finished on the podium. He held his second place start until the first of five cautions came out on Lap 2 when Ricardo Sperafico retired after contact with Ronnie Bremer on the opening lap.

The race was restarted on Lap 5 and Servia held his position behind Bourdais and approx. one to two seconds ahead of Paul Tracy until the second caution came out from Laps 26 to 33 to clear debris from Turns 4 and 6 where the track surface was breaking apart slightly. The caution bunched the field and Servia had a better chance to gain a position during the stop although this didn't transpire as third place Paul Tracy possibly short filled when the front runners pitted on Lap 28 and got back on track ahead of the Spaniard who dropped to fourth place behind temporary leader Ronnie Bremer, who was previously running ninth but didn't stop on Lap 28 as he had on Lap 3. Once the race was restarted on Lap 34, he held fourth place until Lap 48 when Bremer finally pitted and he moved into third place.

He remained in third when Ryan Hunter-Reay spun and brought out the yellow flag from Laps 58-65 and the frontrunners made their final stop on Lap 60. After a quick stop he was able to get back on track in fourth place behind temporary leader Bjorn Wirdheim who had been running eighth and didn't pit with the others, Bourdais and Tracy. During the caution he informed the team that he had previously hit the wall with the front left and he thought the impact had changed the "toe" but the car didn't feel "terrible."

He held fourth place through the restart and moved into third when Wirdheim pitted on Lap 72 and moved into third. By lap 76 it was then estimated that there could be 20 laps to go in the 1 hour 45 minute timed event. That would shortly change as the fifth and final caution period of the race came out to remove the car of Cristiano da Matta, who made contact on Lap 78. Prior to the restart on Lap 84 the team informed Servia of how much Push to Pass he and his competitors had left. On the restart the frontrunners used their Push to Pass button but the running order at the front did not change.

Champ Car officials estimated there were nine laps left and Servia retained his position and took the checkered flag in third place to earn his fifth podium in six race with the team and 10th of his career. He earned 25 points for his third place finish and held his fourth place rank in the championship standings with a total of 160 points to leader Bourdais' 216 (-56). Following are Servia's post race comments:

"It went well," said Servia. "Obviously, as close as we were yesterday to the pole, I had real hopes to get P1 in the race, especially after the performance in warm-up where the car felt so great. In a way I knew it was going to be a race of was going to win whoever made no mistakes. That was my approach. The first part of the race I think the three of us were just trying to save as much fuel as possible. But with the yellow coming, I don't think it made much difference. I think Paul short fueled more than we did, that's how he got me in the pits. The way the yellows came, he didn't need the fuel extra I put in. So he finished second, I finished third. I think we had a very similar speed. Another podium feels great for the PacifiCare car to be up there. We are looking really strong for the next race in Denver.

(On going over the railroad tracks being compared to a motorcross event:) I have to say I've been driving motorcycles since I was two and a half, and I've never screamed like I was screaming on Friday. I can promise you that (laughter). But they've worked on it. Again, I didn't scream once today in the race, apart from when Paul got me in the pits, which had nothing to do with the rails. It was only the last five laps when I was really, really scared because something went loose in the rear of my car. I thought for sure it was going to break. Each time I was going over the rails, I was praying it was just going to stay together because every lap was getting worse. Under braking, I would have to turn the wheel towards one side. I really thought Wilson was going to get me or just the car was going to break down. I don't really know what happened, but I'm just glad it stayed together enough to finish. I think we've been running very consistent. Since I am at the team, it's been five podiums in six races, so it's really good. Unfortunately, it looks like all the championship contenders are on the podium every time. Today we made a little bit of ground on Justin but these two guys on my right are definitely going to be up there every single race, so we need to step it up a little, just a little bit more."

- Attendance in San Jose...A three-day total of 153,767 people attended the inaugural Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose, marking the third consecutive race where Champ Car has drawn over 150,000 fans. The total this weekend boosted the total attendance for the year to over one million after just eight races.

- 11 WINS AND 17 POLES IN CALIFORNIA...Although it was the inaugural event in San Jose, NHR has had some success in the state. They earned their 11the win in California today: They have won ONE in San Jose (today); FOUR in Long Beach (Bourdais 2005; Ma. Andretti 1987, 1985, 1984), FOUR in Monterey (da Matta 2002; Mi. Andretti 1992, 1991 -- 2 times*), and TWO in Fontana (da Matta 2001, Fittipaldi 2000). The have won 17 poles in California: ONE IN SAN JOSE; EIGHT in Long Beach (Junqueira 2004; Mi. Andretti 1995; Mansell 1993; Mi. Andretti 1992, 1991; Ma. Andretti 1987, 1985, 1984) and EIGHT in Monterey (Bourdais 2004, da Matta 2002, Mi. Andretti 1992, 1991, 1991*, Ma. Andretti 1987, 1986, 1984). With their 1st and 3rd place finish they have now earned 33 top-three podium finishes in California.

- Up Next...The series returns to the streets of Denver for the CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver, Round 9 of 14, in two weeks. Bourdais drove his McDondald's race car to victory in 2004 what he called the best race of his career. PacifiCare driver Bruno Junqueira finished third in 2004 after winning the previous two years. Oriol Servia earned a career best starting position of second place in Denver in 2003 as well as his best finish there of third place the same season.

-nhr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Ricardo Sperafico , Bruno Junqueira , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Sébastien Bourdais , Bjorn Wirdheim , Ronnie Bremer , Cristiano da Matta