Champ Car's Sebastien Bourdais wins Texas IROC race

April 15, 2005

Sebastien Bourdais

Sebastien Bourdais had only three laps of IROC experience before today, but he dominated round 2 of the 2005 IROC series in Texas.  Bourdais led the most laps and held off the king of IROC, Mark Martin for his first win in only his 2nd start.

Buddy Rice was third followed by Martin Truex Jr. and Bobby Hamilton.

Bourdais lead the first 1/2 of the race but around lap 40 he lost the lead to Kurt Busch.  After driving through the grass of the front stretch to avoid an accident and damaging the front suspension of his car so it ran lower to the ground and hence faster, Kurt Busch had the strongest car through the middle of the race and drove to the front.  Although, while leading he hit the wall exiting turn two due to a cut tire. 

Bourdais became the first Champ Car driver in 10 years to win a race in International Race of Champions (IROC) competition, storming to the lead early and holding off a fierce challenge from IROC’s all-time leading race winner Mark Martin in the final laps to take the victory at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday.

“I knew it was going to be a tough fight in those last laps,” Bourdais said. “I knew I had to try and keep the car low on the track but I was having a little trouble that made it tougher. It’s a great feeling to win here. Thanks to the IROC people for letting me come here and compete with these guys. This is a great series.”

The Champ Car World Series points leader had just one day of IROC practice leading up to Friday’s race, owing to the fact that he had to travel cross-country to run in Champ Car testing Wednesday and Thursday in Portland. Despite the lack of seat time, the Frenchman dominated the event in becoming the first foreign-born driver since 1992 to win an IROC race. The victory, along with the bonus points earned for leading the most laps and for leading at the halfway point boosts Bourdais into second in the 2005 IROC standings, just 10 points behind Martin.

Bourdais (In Car) chats with IROC test driver Jay Sauter prior to the race

Bourdais started from the pole Friday afternoon, a spot he inherited after a wreck not of his making in the Daytona IROC opener left him last in the Round 1 results. He put that spot to good use, shouldered World of Outlaws legend Steve Kinser aside on Lap 7 to take a lead he would hold for the next 30 trips around the 1.5-mile oval.

He fell behind reigning Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch on a lap 37 restart brought on by Danny Lasoski’s brush with the wall, but took the lead again on Lap 46 when Busch cut a tire and hit the wall. He led easily for the next few laps until Martin tracked him down with five laps to go. The NASCAR veteran tried to find a way around on the final orbits of the Texas track but could not find an opening as Bourdais punched his ticket to Victory Lane.

“Sebastien did a fabulous job,” Martin said after Bourdais became the 47th driver ever to win an IROC event. “I thought I was going to be able to race him for it but he did a good job holding me off. He was fast.”

Prior to the caution, Bourdais and Busch took turns holding first and second positions. Pole-sitter Bourdais regained the lead from Kinser on lap six and held the lead through lap 36.

Busch took full advantage of a caution on a lap 37 restart – when Lasoski hit the wall – to take the lead from Bourdais for the next nine laps before Busch’s tire misfortune ended his day, leaving him with an 11th-place finish.

Grand American Racing Series champion Max Papis (sixth), World of Outlaws drivers’ Danny Lasoski (seventh) and Steve Kinser (eighth), Matt Kenseth (ninth), Helio Castroneves (10th) and Scott Pruett (12th) rounded out the 12-driver field. Kinser led the field for the first six laps before giving away to Bourdais, while Pruett’s day ended on lap 5 when he was bumped from behind by Kenseth coming out of Turn 4. Pruett’s car spun around and into the wall, damaging his radiator.

The third leg of the four-race IROC Series shifts to Richmond International Raceway (Sept. 8), followed by the season-finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Oct. 29).

Earlier in the day, Pruett, a seven-year IROC veteran and two-time race-winner, was one of 12 drivers nominated for a program to honor IROC’s all-time great champions. Dubbed the Crown Royal Legends of Victory Lane, Pruett joined current series’ drivers Martin and Kinser as other nominees. Fan voting via the Internet at will determine four all-time Legends of Victory Lane, and will be announced at the final IROC race in Atlanta in October.

Pos Start Driver Series Car Laps Times
Bonus Points Status
1 1 Sebastien Bourdais Champ Car #2 Yellow 67 2 52 3 5 21 Running
2 12 Mark Martin* NASCAR #6 Lt. Blue 67 - - 1 - 17 Running
3 8 Buddy Rice IRL #15 Burgundy 67 - - 2 - 14 Running
4 11 Martin Truex Jr. NASCAR #8 Black 67 - - - - 12 Running
5 10 Bobby Hamilton NASCAR #4 Dark Blue 67 - - - - 10 Running
6 7 Max Papis Grand-Am #16 Magenta 67 - - - - 9 Running
7 6 Danny Lasoski WoO #20 Orange 67 - - - - 8 Running
8 2 Steve Kinser WoO #11 Green 67 1 6 - 2 7 Running
9 9 Matt Kenseth* NASCAR #17 Purple 67 - - - - 6 Running
10 5 Helio Castroneves IRL #03 Day-glo 67 - - - - 5 Running
11 4 Kurt Busch* NASCAR #97 Red 45 1 9 - 3 4 Accident
12 3 Scott Pruett Grand-Am #01 Gold 5 - - - - 3 Accident

Average Speed: 84.608
Time of Race: 1:11:16
Margin of Victory: .202
Lead Changes: 4 among 3 drivers
Caution Periods: 3 (with Competition Yellow)
Lap Leaders: Kinser 1-6, Bourdais 7-36, Busch 37-45, Bourdais 46-67

Bonus Points: The first segment of the race will award first, second and third place drivers bonus points of 3-2-1 respectively. In addition, at the end of the race, five bonus points will be awarded to the driver who leads the most laps, three bonus points are awarded to the driver who leads the second most number of laps, and two bonus points are awarded to the driver who leads the third most number of laps.

*Tiebreaker Rule: In the event that two or more drivers are tied for bonus points, the bonus points will be awarded according to the finishing positions of the race. In the event that two or more drivers are tied at the finish line, the points for finishing positions will be added together and divided among the tying drivers.

Prize Money: The total True Value IROC purse of $1.9 million will be paid upon conclusion of the series based on point standings. The series Champion will earn $1 million dollars.

Point Standings
Pos Driver (Representing) Daytona Points Texas Points Total
1 Mark Martin NASCAR Nextel Cup 24 18 42
2 Sebastien Bourdais Champ Car World Series 3 29 32
3 Martin Truex Jr. NASCAR Busch Series 17 12 29
4 Matt Kenseth NASCAR Nextel Cup 20 6 26
5 Buddy Rice IRL Indy Car Series 10 16 26
6 Bobby Hamilton NASCAR Craftsman Truck 14 10 24
7 Max Papis Grand-Am Road Racing 9 9 18
8 Danny Lasoski World of Outlaws 8 8 16
9 Kurt Busch NASCAR Nextel Cup 8 7 15
10 Helio Castroneves IRL Indy Car Series 9 5 14
11 Steve Kinser World of Outlaws 4 9 13
12 Scott Pruett Grand-Am Road Racing 6 3 9


Sebastien Bourdais, Champ Car World Series: Winner
“It’s quite special for an open-wheel driver to keep up with the NASCAR drivers here,” said Bourdais. “These (NASCAR) guys have a lot of tricks, and they use them all the time. I practiced in the IROC cars here on Monday night and it was quite productive. I tried some different lines and they paid off.  “All the open-wheel guys were happy for me because we’ve been kicked around here for a while. I think they were excited that a fellow open-wheel driver won here tonight.”

Mark Martin, NASCAR Nextel Cup: Finished Second
''The biggest chance we had was if he would have made a mistake. It didn't look like that would happen,'' said Martin. ''He (Bourdais) did an awesome job. He is an incredibly talented young race car driver.”

Buddy Rice, IndyCar Series: Finished Third
(How was it running up front with everyone?) “Yeah, it was awesome. I had a good time. It was good to have a couple open-wheelers up there trying to work together. It was exciting. I have a little bit of seat time here racing in the dark in the IRL. I’ve always liked this place. I think this is my best finish I’ve ever had here at this track. I’ve been running up front a whole bunch of times. I’ve just never been able to get a solid finish. This is the first time to get one here and to do it in IROC in a car that I’m not familiar with.”

(About getting teamed up on by Mark Martin and Martin Truex Jr.): “It’s just how it goes. I don’t know if it’s teaming up. Everybody is out there for themselves. It always helps that some of these guys have a little bit more experience. The IROC guys make everything so even. When the two cars got up front, I was still able to catch back up. It was just really hard to pass because the cars are so equal.”

(About missing the Kurt Busch accident): “It was so close. I started to go in the inside and Hamilton was right on me. He started to ricochet off. Our cars hit and stay against the fence. So he hit, and I saw him start coming out so I dart to the right and Hamilton is pushing on me and we go shooting through there. I picked the right way, but it was definitely getting ready to get exciting there for a second.”

(About points race): “We’re only on the second race. Mark has a win and a second so he’s pretty solid right now in the lead. There’s still two more rounds so a lot can happen. We’ll have to wait and see, but I’m having a blast. This is a great time for me.”

Martin Truex Jr., NASCAR Busch champion: Finished Fourth
(About the experience of bare bones racing) “It was cool, it was a lot of fun. Without spotters, You have to watch your mirrors when people were on your rear. You want to pass people before they even know you’re there. It all makes for a lot of fun and you never know what’s going to happen next.”

(About his results) “I think I did a good job of picking lanes. My car was pushing in the beginning, but the new tires at the end really helped out.”

Bobby Hamilton, NASCAR Craftsman Truck champion: Finished Fifth
“It was a great day out there, a lot of fun. This is really great racing and I love working with these guys. The IROC folks produce a great product and really happy Crown Royal stepped up to do this with them. Getting an opportunity to race with these great champions is a really cool deal for me.”

Danny Lasoski, World of Outlaws (Defending race winner): Finished Seventh
“I think my problem was overdriving. I just wanted to win again so bad. You can’t give these guys an inch or they’ll definitely take a mile. I really want to win this one again.”

Scott Pruett, Grand American co-champion: Finished Twelfth (Lap five accident)
"I just got flat out run into from behind coming out of turn four. It's discouraging. We all just came out here to have a little fun. I just hate it. In my book that's just unprofessional. The race was just getting started and I was just settling in."

Kurt Busch, NASCAR Nextel Cup champion: Finished Eleventh (Accident)
”This is four weeks in a row now with bad luck. I hope I can shake this luck off.”

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