Everyone was surprised to hear that Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais would make his Verizon IndyCar Series return on Saturday night’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline. A result of that surprise was likely a lack of expectations about just how well he would do, especially given the apparent drag disadvantage Honda’s short-oval aero package has.
Bourdais qualified a conservative, albeit solid 19th to knock the dust off, but the race was expected to be a considerable challenge for the driver of the No. 18 UNIFIN Honda.
Yet, while Bourdais’ run on Saturday was a quiet one, he nonetheless drove a clean race aamid tricky conditions that caught out the likes of Will Power, Tony Kanaan, Ed Carpenter, and Takuma Sato early on.
Bourdais slowly moved forward throughout the Saturday night affair and, at the checkered flag, he found himself in tenth, a more than solid result on his first race back.
Bourdais described afterward that the restarts were a complicated affair for him, and he nearly crashed on multiple occasions.
“It wasn’t an easy race. We knew the car wasn’t perfect and I had some really complicated restarts. I don’t know what was going on, but I got loose three times and I almost stuffed it, and so I went to the back of the pack,” Bourdais said of his near-misses.
Still, Bourdais and the team got stronger as the race went on, and through a stretch of good pit stops and a strong final restart, managed to sneak into the top ten.
“The guys did a really good job in the pits and got us back in contention there at the end. I finally had a good restart and a couple of wobbles in front of me and I benefitted from it. I’m just really happy with my top 10. It’s a good way to salvage something this weekend.”