IndyCar: Bourdais bullish for Toronto encore of 2013

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One of the drivers who needs  – and probably deserves – a big weekend this weekend at the Honda Indy 2 in Toronto is KVSH Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais.

The “bespectacled badass” hasn’t finished on the podium yet this year, with a pair of fourth place finishes (Grand Prix of Indianapolis, Houston race 1) serving as his best results of 2014.

But the driver of the No. 11 Hydroxycut KVSH Racing Chevrolet turned his 2013 season around at this race weekend a year ago. Bourdais delivered a runner-up finish in Saturday’s race one, with a third place in Sunday’s race two. The Saturday race came with a much-remembered trophy smash on the podium, as the glass bowl fell off its base and tumbled to its ultimate demise.

They were his first podium finishes since he returned to the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2011, and also marked the first in Dragon Racing’s history.

A year later, Bourdais looks to deliver KVSH Racing its first podium of the year as well. Believe it or not, KV and A.J. Foyt Enterprises are the only full-season teams who have yet to visit the top three in a race this year. There have been 17 different podium finishers from nine different teams.

As this is also near to Hydroxycut’s home base in Oakville, it’s an important weekend for Bourdais and the Olivier Boisson-led crew.

“This is a very important race for the KVSH Racing team because our sponsor, Hydroxycut, has its headquarters just outside of Toronto in Oakville, so we are expecting a lot of support at the track,” Bourdais said. “Over the years I have had some very exciting races in Toronto and had some good results. It is always a great event. The city really supports the race, the track is challenging and the fans are knowledgeable.”

Results haven’t mirrored the pace or qualifying efforts Bourdais has delivered on the street courses this year. He is a past winner at Toronto though, 10 years ago with Newman/Haas Racing in Champ Car.

“The Hydroxycut – KVSH Racing car has been fast on most of the street circuits this year and with two races this weekend hopefully we can have a couple of good results for the sponsors, their employees and guests and make up some ground in the championship standings,” said Bourdais, who enters the weekend 12th in points, 23 behind Tony Kanaan in 10th (and the previous driver of the No. 11 KV entry).

Bourdais – and the rest of the IndyCar field – race Saturday and Sunday on NBCSN/NBC Sports Live Extra at 3 p.m. ET both days.

Josef Newgarden wins pole for Grand Prix of Alabama

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With time running off the clock, Josef Newgarden lapped Barber Motorsports Park with a speed of 122.773 mph to win his third career pole and first on this track in the Grand Prix of Alabama.

Newgarden was .0128 seconds faster than teammate Scott Dixon in second.

Newgarden has two previous wins at Barber. He won last year’s edition of this race after starting seventh and in 2015 from fifth.

“I didn’t know if that was going to be enough,” Newgarden said after winning the pole.

“Team Chevy has done a good job,” Newgarden said. “They’ve really given us good power this weekend – good driveability. We’re going to need some fuel mileage tomorrow, which I think we’ll have. But it’s going to get mixed up with the rain.”

Dixon’s lap of 122.750 mph was not quite enough.

“I’m sure you could pick out a number of different things on a lap when it’s that close,” Power said about what made the slight difference between him and Newgarden. “A little mistake out of 9; a little lift here or there.”

Sebastien Bourdais (122.605 mph) qualified third, with Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.159) and James Hinchliffe (121.859) rounding out the top five.

Scott Dixon was the last driver in the top six.

Fast 12

Newgarden topped this chart with a speed of 123.475 mph.

He brought Power, James Hinchcliffe, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Sebastien Bourdais along with him to the Fast 6.

Marco Andretti (122.480), Alexander Rossi (122.216), Simon Pagenaud (122.050), Robert Wickens (122.042), Zach Veach (121.784) and Ed Jones (120.984) failed to advance.

Round 1, Group 1

Newgarden posted the fastest single lap in round one, group one of qualification for the Grand Prix of Alabama with a speed of 122.550 mph.

Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe, Wickens, and Andretti also advance to the fast 12.

Taking the final slot was Jones with a speed of 119.835 mph after an off-course excursion in final practice.

This was Andretti’s first advancement to the fast 12 for the first time since 2014.

Round 1, Group 2

Power had the fastest lap of 121.570 mph.

Bourdais, Veach (who is battling food poisoning-like symptoms), Rossi, and Pagenaud grabbed positions 2-4.

Scott Dixon had an uncharacteristically slow lap of 121.006, but managed to advance to the fast 12 when the session was red-flagged for an incident involving Tony Kanaan.

With three minutes remaining, Kanaan spun into the tire barriers while leaving pit road. Since he brought out the red flag, he lost his qualification time of 119.996 mph.

Takuma Sato had slipped off-course midway through the session and posted only the Ninth-fastest speed of 120.789 mph.

Results are below. The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama rolls off at 3:00 p.m. ET.