CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto: Newman/Haas race report

McDonald's® driver Sebastien Bourdais drove to his third consecutive win of the season and fourth overall in 2004 after he led 75 of 84 laps in today's Molson Indy Toronto and took over the points lead for the second time in his Champ Car World...

McDonald's® driver Sebastien Bourdais drove to his third consecutive win of the season and fourth overall in 2004 after he led 75 of 84 laps in today's Molson Indy Toronto and took over the points lead for the second time in his Champ Car World Series career with 164 points over second place Bruno Junqueira, 136. It was also his fourth win in six Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series races to date this season. He has now earned seven wins in 24 starts for a 31 percent win average. He brought Newman/Haas Racing their seventh win at this track as well as their 18th victory in the past 45 Champ Car events dating back to Cristiano da Matta's win in the 2001 event in Australia.

On a sunny, warm day, Bourdais took the lead from pole and was able to stay in front in a race that featured seven caution flags and five penalties and was shortened from the previously schedule 95-laps to 84 due to a one hour, 45 minute time limit. At the start of the event the field headed toward the first turn and Bourdais worked to hold off second place starter Paul Tracy. Third place starter Bruno Junqueira and fourth place starter Mario Dominguez brought out the first of many caution periods when they collided in the tire wall in Turn 2.

In order to stretch the fuel window for the two mandatory green flag pit stops, the McDonald's team targeted an ambitious 1.73 mpg fuel allotment. The race was restarted on Lap 7 and Bourdais maintained a slim average lead of .7 seconds over Tracy until the next caution period from Laps 22-24 for Memo Gidley who spun and stalled his car. While attempting to keep his fuel mileage within the team target, he held a slim margin over Tracy that averaged .8-seconds until Tracy pitted on Lap 35, one lap before Bourdais made his first stop on Lap 36. He returned to the race in the lead and held it through the next caution periods from Laps 38-41 for the lapped Memo Gidley who made contact in Turn 6 immediately in front of Bourdais.

The race was restarted on Lap 41 but Paul Tracy and third place runner Justin Wilson brought it back out when Wilson spun after the two made contact. The race was resumed on Lap 46 and Tracy pitted for a drive through penalty for his contact with Wilson and dropped back in the field. By Lap 49, Bourdais now held a two-second lead over second place runner Jimmy Vasser which he proceeded to build to seven seconds by Lap 56. On Lap 56 he set the fastest race lap of the event and bettered that time on Lap 58 which held until the end of the event. Due to the amount of caution flags Champ Car declared the race would be a "timed event" and would run for 1 hour 45 minutes rather that the originally scheduled 95 laps. Before his second and final pit stop on Lap 64, he had built a 9.5-second lead on second place Vasser and returned to the race in fourth place behind three cars that had yet to make their final stops. He regained the lead on Lap 72 and held it through a caution period from Laps 74-79 for Michel Jourdain who had been hit by Paul Tracy who was returning to the track after his final stop. The race restarted on Lap 80 and Bourdais easily held his position and took the checkered flag 1.39-seconds ahead of Jimmy Vasser and Patrick Carpentier. He collected one point for setting the fastest lap, one point for leading the race and 31 points for the victory to bring his total to 164.

"I think the McDonald's crew did an awesome job," said Bourdais. "We had a great car today. "The only thing I can say is I'm really glad I was up front because it looks like it was really crazy out there (laughter). We knew that having the pole position was a big advantage. I had a moment at the start with Paul (Tracy), he tried really hard. He moved to the left before I could even take the race line, so I had to stay inside and brake inside at turn three, first lap. It was a tough call. But right there the yellow came out, and kind of, you know, slowed down a bit the whole mood of the race. We had to restart. I think it's always easier to do a good restart from the front when it's a single line. After that, I had a very difficult first stint."

"I had to save fuel as much as I could. The target from the team was really high. I was struggling to keep up with the mileage and to keep Tracy behind me. It worked out really, really well. The team did a great job at figuring out what the right figure was because we stopped one lap later than Paul, and we still were able to hold him off. I think he wore a bit his tires and he had to push a bit harder than I to keep up. So after that, really the race came to us because we had one-lap advantage and two sets of stickers (tires) for the next following stints. You know, I just pushed really hard and tried to pit early on the second stop to make sure that we were not going to get stopped by a yellow. I put a very good lap, 60.3, just pulled away, and after that was a pretty easy race except we had a lot of restarts. I think we did a really good job today."

"Well, obviously I think things are rolling very well for us. But, you know, I just really want to stay focused on the target, which is to try to win the championship. Motor racing, you know, things are moving so fast, you are really successful one day and the next day you're nowhere. I just want to really stay focused and keep pushing as we've been doing since the beginning of the year. If we can achieve that, we should be in very good shape for the championship at the end.

PacifiCare driver Bruno Junqueira's reign at the top of the Champ Car World Series standings ended today after a Lap 1 accident with Mario Dominguez in the originally scheduled 95-lap Molson Indy Toronto. At the start of the race, Junqueira had an opportunity to attempt a pass on second place starter Paul Tracy but admitted after the race that he did not want to take a chance on only the first lap. Unfortunately his race ended when he and Mario Dominguez were side-by-side heading into the right-handed Turn 2 and made contact. Neither car was able to continue due to damage. He earned three points for his 18th place finish but lost the lead in the standings to his teammate Sebastien Bourdais who went on to win the event and score 33 points for a total of 164 to Junqueira's 136.

Following are Junqueira's comments:

"At the start I was inside Paul and could have made an attempt to pass but I didn't want to take a chance so early in the race so I backed off and Mario put his nose in there," said Junqueira. "We were going into the corner and we crashed. I was leading the championship and couldn't afford a risk like that. The kid had nothing to lose because he did not have as many points as I did. It's a shame because the PacifiCare car was good in the morning warm-up and we could have had a chance to win the race but instead we only got three points."

Oh Canada!
Today's attendance in Toronto was 72,561, for a three-day event total attendance of 164,218.

Up Next: The series will head west for the Molson Indy Vancouver. Junqueira finished second to Paul Tracy in Vancouver last year while Bourdais was third.

-nhr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Jimmy Vasser , Memo Gidley , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Mario Dominguez , Sébastien Bourdais , Cristiano da Matta , Michel Jourdain