Doubtful Bourdais would go to NASCAR
[Editor's Note: While this article speculates whether Champ Car driver Sebastien Bourdais might go to NASCAR if the F1 offer does not materialize, and the author was not able to reach Bourdais in San Jose yesterday, we did. When asked if he might consider a NASCAR offer he said, "Maybe, but the schedule is so long and we have a new baby. I love my wife and my daughter and asking her to spend that much time on the road (referring to NASCAR's long schedule) would be too much to ask of her." Bourdais is always very honest when he speaks and he did not give us the impression whatsoever that NASCAR is really an option for him, but given the right financial offer, who knows.......]
Sebastien Bourdais lobbied hard for a shot in NASCAR after winning the second of his three Champ Car titles in 2005. If he still wants it, the chance may be there.
Bourdais' Champ Car team, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, announced a partnership with NASCAR's Robert Yates Racing on Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After a news conference, two of the principals - Carl Haas and Doug Yates - said they're interested in bringing Bourdais to Nextel Cup.
The problem is Bourdais may be on the verge of signing with Formula One's Scuderia Toro Russo team, for whom he has tested three times.
However, Bourdais has said in the past he only wants to go to Formula One if he can sign with a competitive team, and Toro Rosso is one of the worst. Additionally, the 28-year-old Frenchman has been intrigued by NASCAR since beating some of stock car racing's best in an IROC race at Texas a few years ago.
Haas, who begins his third stint as a NASCAR team owner, said there have been discussions with Bourdais about moving to NASCAR.
"Well, he's getting a Formula One offer, but he might stay where we're at [Champ Car]," Haas said. "He's rather interested in doing what's being done here [the NASCAR partnership], but I don't know. We'll have to see."
Doug Yates, who has owned Robert Yates Racing with his father, said Juan Pablo Montoya having some degree of success after coming over from F1 - he won the Nextel Cup road race at Sonoma, Calif., last month - has shown that the best open-wheel drivers can make a direct transition to Nextel Cup.
"That has definitely been a discussion we've had, and I think Sebastien is very interested in NASCAR," he said. "And I think it would be great for NASCAR to have Sebastien here.
"We don't go into this Day One saying that's our plan, but it is a possibility.
Bourdais was in California on Friday for Champ Car's San Jose Grand Prix, and couldn't be reached for comment. He is on pace to win a fourth consecutive series championship.
Doug Yates was asked if he thought Bourdais could go directly to Nextel Cup without some time in the Busch Series or other developmental divisions.
"We do have 17 more races this year, so we have some time to get him some seat time," he said. "But we haven't got to that point yet."
The new team - Yates called it a partnership and not a merger - will be known as Yates/Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, and will start immediately. Among those appearing at Friday's announcement was Paul Newman, the 82-year-old actor and race driver who makes his first serious foray into NASCAR. TBO.com