CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: Pre-race notebook

Lexmark Indy 300 Notebook WHO'S HOT Proving once again why he is the Championship points leader, Sebastien Bourdais ( ...

Lexmark Indy 300 Notebook

WHO'S HOT

Proving once again why he is the Championship points leader, Sebastien Bourdais (#2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) drove a clean race, had good pit stops from his Newman/Haas Racing team, and battled his way to the end crossing the stripe 0.066 seconds ahead of teammate Bruno Junqueira (#6 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) in Las Vegas. The Flying Frenchman has a 27-point advantage over his teammate who sits second in the Championship standings and Bourdais could walk home as the 2004 series champion this weekend.

With eight top-three finishes in twelve races, Junqueira shows consistency also earns Championship-potential honors. Sitting second in the overall Champ Car standings with 280 markers, the fourth year veteran continues to demonstrate that his determination and skills can win a championship. Those personal tools, along with solid teamwork, enabled the battle with stablemate Bourdais during the last 20 laps at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which marked the sixth closest finish in Champ Car history.

Mathematically still in the battle for the 2004 Championship is Forsythe Championship Racing's Patrick Carpentier (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) after earning his third consecutive podium during Round 12. The French-Canadian has found himself in the top-five eight times this season, a factor that contributes greatly to his status in the standings.

The rookies continue to push hard as RuSPORT's A.J. Allmendinger (#10 Western Union Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) earned his seventh top-ten finish in Las Vegas crossing the finish as the top finishing rookie at the superspeedway in sixth. Justin Wilson (#34 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Mi-Jack Conquest Racing grabbed the audience's attention by finishing eighth after starting 15th on the grid.

Oriol Servia (#11 yokeTV.com Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) charged his Dale Coyne Racing machine to the front of the pack in Las Vegas taking the lead for the second time this season, while Alex Tagliani (#8 Johnson Controls Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) was also credited for leading laps in front of his residential area fans.

ON THE RIGHT TRACK

Sebastien Bourdais earned the pole in 2003, but Ryan Hunter-Reay (#4 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) became the 13th different winner in Australia. Scoring his first Champ Car victory during his rookie season at last year's Lexmark Indy 300, he heads Down Under with new team colors, but the same attitude -- to win.

Previous to Hunter-Reay's victory, Mario Dominguez (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) earned his first Champ Car victory as a rookie in 2002, also marking the first victory for his Herdez Competition team.

PKV Racing's Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) won from pole in 1996 on the streets of Surfers Paradise and went on to win the Championship that season. A third place finish last year proves his capability of being on top once again in as he attempts to make his 13th Lexmark Indy 300 start.

Another Champ Car veteran who has had success here in the past is Paul Tracy (#1 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). Taking the win in 1995 and a third place run more recently in 2002, he returns to Surfer Paradise as the reigning 2003 Series Champion looking for another chance to be on top Down Under.

NOTEWORTHY

David Besnard will pair up in a Reynard with Mario Haberfeld (#5 Cummins Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) for a two car effort in Australia by the Walker Racing team following a three-way agreement between Walker, US-based Australian Champ Car series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven and Gold Coast businessman Craig Gore. Besnard, who regularly drives for Gore's WPS V8 Supercar team, will be the first Australian to compete in the Gold Coast race since Jason Bright in 2000. As a result, he will not be a part of the field for the Gillette V8 Supercar Challenge which shares equal billing with the Champ Car event.

DID YOU KNOW

Paul Tracy (#1 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Forsythe Championship Racing finished 13th last year, but that was good enough to clinch the Championship title as he was crowned the 2003 Champ Car World Series Champion. Aussie fans may have the opportunity to see yet another Championship title clinched as Sebastien Bourdais could possibly wrap things up Down Under. He carries a 27-point lead into this weekend's event, but must score eight more points than his teammate Bruno Junqueira in order to win the 2004 Champ Car title.

The Champ Car World Series has raced on the streets of Surfers Paradise for the past thirteen years. Four current Champ Car drivers have a chance to change history. Throughout those thirteen years, there have been thirteen different winners. A win from Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, Mario Dominguez, or Ryan Hunter-Reay would change the fate of repeat performances in Australia.

The first rookie to win the pole position in Australia was Nigel Mansell in 1993. In 2003, Bourdais became only the second rookie to win the pole position for the Lexmark Indy 300.

Out of the thirteen different drivers who have won the Lexmark Indy 300, three of them were rookies. Nigel Mansell won in 1993, followed by Dominguez in 2002, and Hunter-Reay in 2003.

BY THE NUMBERS

443 -- Number of laps Bourdais has led this season. 38 -- Number of points between the leader Canada and Brazil in the battle for the Nation's Cup. 27 -- Number of points between first and second in the Championship battle. 24 -- Number of different drivers who have finished in the top-three during the Lexmark Indy 300. 11 -- Number of different drivers who have won the pole position in Australia. 8 -- Number of the most lead changes during an Australian race event. 5 -- Number of times the Surfers Paradise track layout has changed over the past thirteen years. 3 -- Number of drivers who have won the Lexmark Indy 300 from the pole. 2 -- Number of rookie drivers who have sat on the pole at this event. 0 -- Number of drivers who have one more than once at the Lexmark Indy 300.

-ccws-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Mario Haberfeld , Justin Wilson , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Nigel Mansell , Mario Dominguez , Ryan Hunter-Reay , David Besnard , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Jason Bright , Kevin Kalkhoven , Dale Coyne
Teams Conquest Racing , Dale Coyne Racing