Bourdais “thinking championship,” extends points lead

Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais said that settling for second in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach was partly a result of thinking in terms of boosting his points lead, following his St. Petersburg victory.

Bourdais “thinking championship,” extends points lead
Sébastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne Racing Honda
Sébastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne Racing Honda
Sébastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne Racing Honda, champagne
Sébastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne Racing Honda
Sébastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne Racing Honda
Ed Jones, Dale Coyne Racing Honda
Ed Jones, Dale Coyne Racing Honda
Race winner Sébastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne Racing Honda and Dale Coyne celebrating
Ed Jones, Dale Coyne Racing Honda

Although he said it in joking terms, first and second places in the first two rounds of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season have elevated the Frenchman to 19 points ahead of his nearest rival (Long Beach winner James Hinchcliffe) in the championship.

Explaining why he didn’t chase harder after Hinchcliffe following the final restart, Bourdais said: “We lost [handling] balance a little bit at the end so I was just trying to hang on to second place. I was kind of thinking Championship a little bit out there!

“I don’t know that we’re a contender but we’ll find out. We have stayed up there for two races so that’s not too bad.”

Bourdais, who has 36 wins and four (Champ Car) Indy car titles to his name expressed surprise that more of his rivals hadn’t gone for the two-stop strategy that worked out as ideal for himself and Hinchcliffe and was going to work out for Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi. In fact, Bourdais did make three stops, but the first was on Lap 2 to repair a damaged rear wing. He was able to complete this stop under the caution flag that followed the Charlie Kimball/Will Power collision.

He said: “At the beginning, somebody lost an end plate or something. It flew by, I dodged it in the car, [but] it ripped off the whole left side of the rear wing and rear pod and that’s why we came in so early.

“It gave us a couple of laps to save fuel, but we played to our strengths. I’ve always been pretty comfortable saving fuel and that one kind of came to us. I was just really surprised that no one played the game. It was feasible fuel-wise, for us at least.”

Dale Coyne’s team was also able to celebrate the best finish yet for Bourdais’ teammate, rookie Ed Jones. Sixth place at Long Beach, following on from his 10th at St. Petersburg, have put him seventh in the points table. 

Said Coyne: “Ed did a phenomenal job. You have to watch Ed during the race. Sebastien couldn’t get around Marco Andretti at St. Pete but Ed got around [Marco] Andretti at St. Pete and around [Graham] Rahal here. He’s passing people on the track. He’s racing really well. He got a sixth here and he should have had a sixth at St. Pete.

“He’s doing a very good job. I’m very happy with Ed’s progress.”

Jones himself said: “We made big jumps this weekend from St. Pete and I can’t wait to get to Barber to make even more. It was a tough race, I was fighting people every stint which is great to do. I had some good battles and at the end it was nice to have the yellow to close everything up a bit.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t have the pace to attack [Simon] Pagenaud in front of me but still, it was a good result and I can’t wait for the next one.”

 

 

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