INDIANAPOLIS – A driver starting seventh in the 33-driver starting lineup for Sunday’s 103rdIndianapolis 500 should be optimistic entering the race.
Meet Sebastien Bourdais of Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser and Sullivan.
The four-time Champ Car Series champion was not happy with his race car after No. 18 Sealmaster Honda after Friday’s final practice session as part of “Carb Day” at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Bourdais was sixth-fastest in the 90-minute final practice session with a lap at 225.288 miles per hour. But afterwards, Bourdais sounded like he was driving a Sherman Tank.
“The car felt about as bad as we could hope for,” Bourdais said. “I don’t know what happened. I don’t recognize the car. It’s super-low on grip. We’ll have to take a look at it and get ready for the race.”
NBC Sports.com asked Bourdais if the track conditions will allow closer racing?
“Not, me,” Bourdais said. “Not me. We don’t have anything. I was 20 cars back. We are looking for grip and that is a tough thing to do.
“That’s the worst-case scenario when you show up on Carb Day and the car is a mess.”
Bourdais’s engineer is one of the best in INDYCAR, Craig Hampson. He was Bourdais’s engineer at Newman-Haas-Lanigan Racing during the four-straight Champ Car Series championships.
Hampson is generally likeable and helpful when asked about the car, but on Friday, he was puzzled.
“We’re going to have to go back in the garage and pore over all of the data to see what the issue is,” Hampson told NBC Sports.com.
It should be noted that Bourdais generally has a depressed outlook about his fortunes heading into a race and is generally one of the best drivers in the field. But unless his car is perfect entering a race, the driver from France can have a less-than-optimistic outlook.
Bourdais has 37 career IndyCar Series wins including 31 in Champ Car. He starts his eighth Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. His best finish was seventh in 2014.