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Bourdais enjoys strong drive to sixth after starting last at Mid-Ohio

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It didn’t result in a victory, or even a top five, but Sebastien Bourdais had arguably the drive of the day during Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

A crash in qualifying forced Bourdais to start last on the grid in 24th, and while he started the day slowly, his charge to the front was ignited after his opening pit stop.

Bourdais was one of the first to pit, his Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan team pitting him on Lap 11, and doing so put Bourdais in clean air and allowed him to set fast laps without being impeded.

As such, he was able to jump around drivers like Conor Daly and Charlie Kimball during the exchange of stops, and he was knocking on the door of the top 10 a third of the way through.

On Lap 35, Bourdais knocked that door down, making an outside pass on Zach Veach entering Turn 5 for tenth.

Indeed, Bourdais made a habit of using the outside line to make passes, as evidenced by the below overtakes on Takuma Sato and Simon Pagenaud.

And the relentless Bourdais did not let up in the final stint. The above pass on Pagenaud gave him seventh, and he made a similar move on Ryan Hunter-Reay to grab sixth in the final laps.

All told, Bourdais bulldozed his way from 24th all the way to sixth at the checkered flag.

Still, despite the strong effort, Bourdais couldn’t help but wonder what might have been if he didn’t have to come from last on the grid.

“Today was making up for a big mess up yesterday. It’s sad, as this car could have been a winner today with our pace,” Bourdais revealed.

“It was a heck of drive and I don’t think it gets much better than that going from 24th to 6th in a straight-up fight on a track that’s difficult to pass. Obviously, it was a lot of ‘what ifs’ that come to mind. Really happy with the day, but quite disappointed for the group as far as the weekend is concerned, as I think we could have been on the podium.”

The Frenchman now enters the two-week break ahead of the ABC Supply 500 (August 19, NBCSN) tenth in the standings, eight points ahead of Marco Andretti.

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Will Power, Roger Penske collect Indy 500 trophies

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
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DETROIT (AP) Last year, Will Power finally broke through and won the Indianapolis 500, so he can cross that accomplishment off the list.

Now 37, Power is reaching an age when it’s fair to wonder how much longer he’ll keep at it.

“I’m really enjoying my racing. I’ve never been so motivated. I’m fitter than I’ve ever been, mentally on the game,” Power said. “I think once you get to this part of your career, you realize that you’re not going to be doing this forever. So you’ve got to enjoy it and you’ve got to go for it when you’ve got it, because, you know, probably only another five years at maximum, and you’re retired.”

Whenever Power’s career does wind down, his 2018 Indy 500 win will remain a moment to remember. He was in Detroit on Wednesday night with team owner Roger Penske for a ceremony in which they received their “Baby Borg” trophies for winning last year’s race. The Baby Borgs are replicas of the Borg-Warner Trophy that honors the Indy 500 winner.

Power finished second at Indy in 2015, and his victory last year made him the race’s first Australian winner. It was Penske’s 17th Indy 500 win as an owner, part of a banner year for him. Penske also won a NASCAR Cup title with driver Joey Logano.

“When you think about 2018, we had 32 race wins, 35 poles. I think we led almost 5,400 laps, with all the series,” Penske said.

On Wednesday, Penske collected another significant trophy, and he’ll be celebrated again in a couple weeks. He’s being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Feb. 1.

“It’s amazing that a guy from the north can get into the Hall of Fame in the south,” Penske joked. “No, it’s special. … NASCAR has helped us build our brand over the years, certainly, with the reputation it has, and the notoriety we get, being a NASCAR team owner.”

Penske’s most recent Indy 500 title came courtesy of Power, who long preferred road courses to ovals but certainly looked comfortable at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year.

“The 500 was one record that he didn’t have, and I think you saw the excitement he and his wife, and the whole team, when he was able to win the race,” Penske said. “He’s probably the best qualifier we’ve ever had, as a road racer, and no question his expertise. He didn’t like ovals to start with, but I think today, he loves racing on ovals.”

Power seems content with all aspects of his racing life at the moment. The aftermath of an Indy 500 victory can be a whirlwind, and it would be understandable for a driver to be weary of it eight months later, but for Power, it’s a new experience.

“I’ve been looking forward to this event for a few months now, to actually get the Baby Borg. You have the face on it – I didn’t realize that, you actually get your own face on it,” Power said. “It makes you realize the significance of the event, when you think about all the things that come with winning the 500.”

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Follow Noah Trister at http://www.Twitter.com/noahtrister