Through two races, KVSH Racing’s “bespectacled badass” Sebastien Bourdais has shown great pace but endured miserable luck, while KV/AFS’ Sebastian Saavedra has rebounded from midfield grid positions to get better results.
The goal for the pair of both them this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park is to get the results off of two good qualifying efforts.
Bourdais, two years ago, turned in one of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ best underdog drives in recent memory – he dragged a down-on-power Lotus engine for Dragon Racing from 17th on the grid to ninth place in the race. That proved the engine manufacturer’s lone top-10 finish in 2012, and both figures are Bourdais’ best results at this circuit in three prior starts.
The Frenchman hasn’t won a North American open-wheel race on a road course since his last Champ Car win at Mexico City in 2007, but he’s still optimistic of finally getting the luck to turn around this week in the black and green No. 11 Hydroxycut Chevrolet.
“This race is very important for KVSH Racing,” Bourdais said. “We had a fast car the first two races of the season, but for various reasons have not been able to get the results we were hoping for. The guys have done a great job setting up and preparing the car. We just need to put everything together and finish off a race weekend with the kind of performance we know we are capable of having.”
Saavedra, meanwhile, has been a quiet and stealthy surprise through two races. Currently 10th in points after finishes of 11th and ninth, Saavedra is a past Barber Motorsports Park winner in Indy Lights (2012) and qualified ninth for this race last year driving for Dragon.
“It’s been an aggressive start of the season and we’ve been able to survive it with good points in the bank,” said the young Colombian. “We need to keep with the top-10 drivers in the championship. Barber is a place I had a good qualifying last year and a bad strategy killed a good finish.”
You can see how well the KV pair does starting at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.
Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”
The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.
“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”
Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.