This feels like it could be a Sebastien Bourdais weekend in Detroit

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On paper, neither Sebastien Bourdais nor the No. 11 Mistic KVSH Racing Chevrolet team has had much to show for last year’s Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit Presented by Quicken Loans.

But I have a sneaking suspicion this year that things are going to change.

You can’t keep the “bespectacled badass” down for long, and given his pace and comfort level now five races into his tenure with his new team, KVSH Racing, the overall performance level is starting to change.

It was a rough three races to open the season with more penalties incurred than top-10 finishes, but a promising month of May has shifted the momentum. Bourdais ended fourth in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and a quiet, but solid, seventh in the Indianapolis 500 for his best run yet in the Verizon IndyCar Series’ most prestigious race.

“It was a quiet day, but a bit expected,” Bourdais told MotorSportsTalk on Thursday. “We didn’t feel we had the greatest car and from midpack it would always be a challenge. But we made steady progress. We did what we had to do, getting a top-10 with double points was very important to keep the momentum out of the Grand Prix. It was nothing exceptional but it was relieving to finally get the green flag in a decent spot.”

Bourdais has settled into the overall KV Racing Technology organization, and he looks to carry the success he achieved at the last four doubleheader races into this one this weekend.

He finished on the podium twice in Toronto (second and third) and with eighth and fifth at Houston, joined Scott Dixon as the only two drivers to score four top-10s in the last four doubleheader races.

Yes, this marks Bourdais’ first Detroit start with KVSH, but few expected him to deliver such a dynamic performance at Toronto as he did with Dragon Racing. That was in his first race with a new engineer (Tom Brown), and he’s now had the Olivier Boisson-led crew to work with for five races.

“I think it connected very quickly; we have a baseline setup, but with this car, every time, you unload you never know where you’ll be,” Bourdais explained. “The field is so compressed that you could be nowhere, so you have to be on your best days all the time.”

Bourdais said the team would likely start from a more generic setup this weekend and work from that. But I wouldn’t put it past ‘ol Seabass to pull off his and the team’s first podium finish of 2014 this weekend.

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.