Bourdais dominant, yet reflective in authoritative second win at Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE – Sebastien Bourdais summed up the challenge of the Milwaukee Mile immediately after his qualifying run earlier Sunday afternoon.

“It doesn’t take a lot to take a little bit out and have the car turn into a piece of evil crap,” Bourdais told MotorSportsTalk, oh so bluntly and oh so candidly.

“But I think we have a really good race car. We’ll see what happens because it was definitely not the qualifying run we were hoping for.”

Boy, were those words prescient.

Bourdais rather quietly climbed from 11th on the grid up to sixth by Lap 18 in Sunday’s ABC Supply Co. Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest presented by the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers, driving the No. 11 Hydroxycut KVSH Racing Chevrolet.

So he was starting to factor into the race, but hadn’t fully materialized among the leaders until Lap 81, when he was up to third place.

A gamble on pit strategy vaulted Bourdais into the lead almost by accident, as he missed pit in. But it put him P1 and into clean air by Lap 117.

And that’s when the can of “Seabass Whoop-ass” was unleashed on the field.

Bourdais launched into a virtuoso master class from there, as he led 117 of the final 134 laps en route to a dominant victory reminiscent of the old days in Champ Car.

The thing was, he didn’t just lead, but he was running at a clip faster than seemed humanly possible over the second half of the race.

Over the course of a stint, Bourdais would run anywhere from four to even eight to 10 mph per lap faster than the rest of the field.

A restart occurred on Lap 141 following the second caution flag of the race. By Lap 148, Bourdais’ gap to second was 6.9228 seconds; three laps later it was 10.3369.

It grew and grew from there to north of 20 seconds, and then a full lap, on the field.

A late caution nearly sabotaged Bourdais’ race, but even on older tires and still with the clean air, he held on for the final 18 green flag laps. Helio Castroneves and Graham Rahal got into podium positions, but no closer to Bourdais.

All the while, Bourdais knew he had a dominant car, and was thankful to the team to be able to exploit it on the day.

“It’s one of those days where just everything works out,” he said post-race. “We knew we had a really good car this morning. In traffic we felt strong. We could run the bottom, move forward. They were bubbling up on the outside. I thought maybe we could do something today.

“In the meantime, I was like, ‘Boy, only did 10 laps, running in clean air, we’re going to be able to go quick.’ I was thinking, ‘Not so bad.’ Sure enough, another yellow came out. I’m thinking, ‘Boy, that’s not looking very good.’

“At that point I just said, ‘All right, I’m going to have fun in the car, enjoy the clean air, run quick, and we’ll see what happens.’ And that worked out pretty good.”

Bourdais chronicled the stint where he knew he had to push like hell, and essentially go into full rabbit mode, to ensure he banked enough of a gap to pit and not lose his track position.

“The next sequence was the crucial one. When I came out of the pits, boiling, on a mission. They all had to save fuel. They had significantly older tires than me. They didn’t have the pace at that time because they had to drive a pace to save fuel and make it. There was no more yellow to make their life any easier. At that point they were trapped in their own strategy.

“So I just run like hell and start passing one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Here we go, leading the race again. I was like, ‘Man, that’s just awesome.’

“Yeah, after that never looked back, I was pretty much in control from there. Not making mistakes. We didn’t have time to make an adjustment for the last stop, we were really free at the end. At that point I was running in front of the pack and I really didn’t need to do anything crazy to make anything happen.”

The win was Bourdais’ second of the season, second at Milwaukee (2006) and 34th of his North American open-wheel career, which tied Al Unser Jr. for seventh on the all-time list.

Reflecting back on it, Bourdais acknowledged how much tougher the competition is, and how much more on form he is now in his third full season back (fifth since 2011, and 10th overall) in the championship.

“I respect the stats because you put yourself on a very special list with very respected and great drivers,” he said. “But I don’t live for stats. I don’t look and contemplate myself. It’s not me.

“It’s a very competitive field. When you look who can win every weekend, it’s actually not so easy.

“Certainly I’ve dominated series and seasons when there were five, six cars that could really give me a run for my money.

“Now it’s like 15 cars can win every race. So you really got to step up your game. It’s a heck of a lot harder to win races, especially when you’re not in the big buck team anymore.”

Still, Bourdais has been on form this year and showcased the glory days once more on Sunday at a track where history is the word most commonly used to describe the place.

It’s another note Bourdais reflected on post-race, the fact his win came at the venerable Mile, his first oval win since that race nine years ago.

“It’s the roots of IndyCar,” he said. “It’s that special oval that nobody likes in the racing business except IndyCar because it fits our racing style. It’s something different.”

Bourdais dominating on an oval is also something different, but was something to behold on Sunday.

IndyCar results, points after Detroit Grand Prix

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DETROIT — Alex Palou topped the results of an NTT IndyCar Series race for the second time this season, extending his championship points lead with his victory in the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver, who also won the GMR Grand Prix (and the Indy 500 pole position) last month, holds a 51-point lead over teammate Marcus Ericsson (ninth at Detroit) through seven of 17 races this season.

Ganassi, which placed all four of its drivers in the top 10 at Detroit, has three of the top four in the championship standings with Scott Dixon ranked fourth after a fourth at Detroit.

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Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden is third in the standings after taking a 10th at Detroit. Pato O’Ward slipped to fifth in the points after crashing and finishing 26th

Here are the IndyCar results and points standings after the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix:


RESULTS

Click here for the official box score from the 100-lap race on a nine-turn, 1.645-mile street course in downtown Detroit.

Lap leader summary

Full lap chart

Best section times

Full section data

Event summary

Pit stop summary

Here is the finishing order in the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix with starting position in parentheses, driver, engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (1) Alex Palou, Honda, 100, Running
2. (7) Will Power, Chevrolet, 100, Running
3. (9) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 100, Running
4. (4) Scott Dixon, Honda, 100, Running
5. (13) Alexander Rossi, Chevrolet, 100, Running
6. (12) Kyle Kirkwood, Honda, 100, Running
7. (2) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 100, Running
8. (11) Marcus Armstrong, Honda, 100, Running
9. (6) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 100, Running
10. (5) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 100, Running
11. (24) Colton Herta, Honda, 100, Running
12. (17) Devlin DeFrancesco, Honda, 100, Running
13. (8) Simon Pagenaud, Honda, 100, Running
14. (20) Agustin Canapino, Chevrolet, 100, Running
15. (15) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 100, Running
16. (18) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 100, Running
17. (25) Jack Harvey, Honda, 100, Running
18. (14) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 100, Running
19. (23) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 100, Running
20. (19) Benjamin Pedersen, Chevrolet, 97, Running
21. (22) Santino Ferrucci, Chevrolet, 97, Running
22. (26) Sting Ray Robb, Honda, 97, Running
23. (21) David Malukas, Honda, 85, Contact
24. (3) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 80, Contact
25. (27) Graham Rahal, Honda, 50, Contact
26. (10) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 41, Contact
27. (16) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 1, Contact

Winner’s average speed: 80.922 mph; Time of Race: 02:01:58.1171; Margin of victory: 1.1843 seconds; Cautions: 7 for 32 laps; Lead changes: 10 among seven drivers. Lap Leaders: Palou 1-28; Power 29-33; O’Ward 34; Palou 35-55; Power 56-64; Palou 65; Rossi 66; Newgarden 67-68; Kirkwood 69; Ericsson 70-76; Palou 77-100.


POINTS

Click here for the points tally in the race.

Here are the points standings after the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix:

Drivers

Entrants

Engine manufacturers

Pit stop performance

Top 10 in points: Palou 273, Ericsson 222, Newgarden 203, Dixon 194, O’Ward 191, Rossi 176, McLaughlin 175, Power 172, Herta 149, Rosenqvist 148.

Rest of the standings: Grosjean 145, Kirkwood 142, Lundgaard 136, Ilott 116, VeeKay 108, Ferrucci 105, Armstrong 101, Rahal 99, Malukas 91, Daly 88, DeFrancesco 81, Castroneves 80, Harvey 78, Canapino 77, Pagenaud 72, Pedersen 61, Robb 55, Takuma Sato 37, Ed Carpenter 27, Ryan Hunter-Reay 20, Tony Kanaan 18, Marco Andretti 13, RC Enerson 5, Katherine Legge 5.

Next race: IndyCar will head to Road America for the Sonsio Grand Prix, which will take place June 18 with coverage starting at 1 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock.