April 15 in Motorsports History: Bourdais’ 3 in a row at Long Beach


Sebastien Bourdais clearly knows his way around the streets of Long Beach.

The Frenchman entered the 2007 edition of the Long Beach Grand Prix as the two-time defending champion.

But Bourdais found himself in unfamiliar territory in the point standings entering that weekend. The three-time defending Champ Car champion was ranked 13th overall after crashing out of the season-opening Vegas Grand Prix.

Sebastien Bourdais celebrates with legendary filmmaker George Lucas after winning the 2007 Grand Prix of Long Beach. (Photo by Darrell Ingham/Getty Images)

However, Bourdais proved that the Vegas race was a fluke.

After starting from the pole position at Long Beach, he led 58 laps and survived multiple restarts to win by 2.614 seconds over Oriol Servia, becoming the first driver to win three consecutive at Long Beach since Al Unser Jr. did it from 1989-91.

“I guess everything that could happen to us in Vegas happened, and here, the McDonald’s car showed what it could do,” Bourdais told NBC Sports in Victory Lane. “I can’t thank these (Newman-Haas Racing) guys enough because really they work their tails off.”

For the remainder of the 2007 season, Bourdais would continue to work his tail off, winning seven more times en route to his fourth consecutive Champ Car title. The following season, he moved to race for Toro Rosso in Formula One before eventually returning to IndyCar in 2011.

Also on this date:

1978: Danny Ongais won the Coors 200 at Texas World Speedway. Despite winning a series-high five races during the 1978 USAC Champ Car season, Ongais finished eighth overall in the final points standings because of 10 DNFs and missing the second race at Texas World in August.

1984: Tom Sneva won the Jimmy Bryan 150 at Phoenix International Raceway, the first of three victories for the previous season’s Indianapolis 500 winner. Sneva finished second to Mario Andretti in the 1984 CART standings.

1993: Jack Harvey was born in Bassignham, England. Harvey and Meyer Shank Racing are scheduled to make their full-time IndyCar debut when racing begins later this year. The duo previously competed in 19 races between 2017-19 as a part-time entry.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994

Ryan Hunter-Reay hired as replacement for Conor Daly at Ed Carpenter Racing

Ryan Hunter-Reay Carpenter
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ryan Hunter-Reay was named to replace Conor Daly in Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet, starting in the NTT IndyCar Series event next week at Road America.

Hunter-Reay is the 2012 series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner. He finished 11th for Dreyer & Reinbold last month in the 107th Indy 500, his first start since the 2021 season finale. He drove full time for Andretti Autosport from 2010-21.

“We need to improve our competitiveness and I wanted to add a fresh perspective from a driver like Ryan who has a massive amount of experience and success as well as a reputation as a team leader. I am excited to welcome Ryan to the team,” team owner Ed Carpenter said in a team release. “We have worked together in the past as teammates and he tested for ECR at Barber Motorsports Park in October 2021, where he made an immediate impact as we were able to qualify one of our cars on the pole following that test. I am confident that his experience and technical abilities will be an asset to ECR as we move forward toward our goals as a team.”

Hunter-Reay has 18 IndyCar victories, most recently in 2018. He also is a winner in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, having been a part of winning entries in the 2020 Twelve Hours of Sebring and 2018 Petit Le Mans. Last year, he was an endurance driver for Cadillac Racing while being on standby for Chip Ganassi Racing.

He replaces Daly, whose departure was announced a day earlier in what the driver and team said was a mutual decision.

“I was surprised when I got the call from Ed,” Hunter-Reay said in a team release. “He described how frustrated he was that his team has not been able to realize its potential despite their efforts, investments, as well as technical and personnel changes over the past few years and asked for my help. Ed and I are very close friends and have been for a long time. I’ve worked with the team in the past and they are a very talented group with high expectations and a committed partner in BITNILE.COM.

“This will certainly be a challenge for me as well. It’s a tough situation jumping in a car in the middle of the season without any testing in what I believe to be the most competitive series in the world. Certainly, part of my motivation in saying ‘yes’ to Ed is the great challenge ahead. The last time I turned right driving an NTT IndyCar Series car was in October of 2021 with this team at Barber. However, I remain very confident in both my driving and technical abilities and believe by working with the talented people at ECR and Team Chevy, while representing BITNILE.COM, we will make progress. I am going to do everything I can do to help the team achieve its long-term objectives.”

Said Milton “Todd” Ault, the chairman of sponsor BitNile.com: “It is great for BitNile.com to be aligned with an Indy 500 Winner and an NTT IndyCar Series champion. I have followed Ryan’s career for years and I am confident he will challenge the entire ECR team to perform at higher levels. I wish everyone luck at Road America.”