Sebastien Bourdais may have held off James Hinchcliffe to secure second place in today’s Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, but couldn’t help but marvel at winner Scott Dixon‘s ability to make his fuel strategy work.
“That was no miracle there – they were the class of the field today,” Bourdais said to NBCSN. “He made an impossible fuel mileage holding the same pace we were and even a little quicker.
“My hats off to the Target Chip Ganassi [Racing] team.”
Nonetheless, Bourdais collected his second podium in the last three races (the other being his win in Toronto Race 1) after starting from the pole position.
The Frenchman led the opening 26 laps of the race before making his first stop of the afternoon. Ryan Hunter-Reay took over the lead but after coming out ahead of Bourdais after his own Lap 27 stop, Race Control called the American for a pit road speeding penalty.
With RHR forced to serve a drive-through penalty, Bourdais reclaimed control of the race. Later on, a caution involving RHR caused Bourdais and the rest of the leaders to go to the pits at Lap 40.
But while Bourdais was the first to come out, Dixon stayed on track to assume the lead after making his second stop at Lap 32 (he had first pitted at Lap 3 following the caution at the start).
Bourdais stayed in second until a charging Josef Newgarden took the spot away from him in the Keyhole at Lap 46. He then rolled along in third leading up to his final stop at Lap 66, in which he flipped from the black primary Firestone tires to the red alternate tires.
But Dixon came out ahead after pitting four laps earlier at Lap 62, and the New Zealander proceeded to pull away from Bourdais despite having to save fuel.
That left Bourdais to fight off a game James Hinchcliffe for the final 20-something laps of the race. Hinchcliffe was within striking distance for much of the last stint, but eventually Bourdais beat him for P2 by about two seconds.
“We had nothing for [Dixon] and probably didn’t have much for Hinch either, but we made it stick,” Bourdais said in summary. “We had a solid run. We just didn’t quite have it today.
“But I’m really happy for the crew. We keep digging, we keep learning, and we’ll get it right.”
The second-place showing today marks Bourdais’ career-best finish at Mid-Ohio. His previous best there was a fourth-place run in 2012 for Dragon Racing.