Bourdais moves up all-time wins chart with Chevrolet Dual in Detroit victory
DETROIT (Saturday, June 4, 2016) – Sebastien Bourdais compared the first race of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans to a game of Texas hold ’em. The KVSH Racing driver had the winning hand today, making history in the process.
Bourdais, the four-time Indy car season champion, won by 2.0401 seconds over Conor Daly in the 70-lap race on the 2.35-mile temporary street course at Belle Isle Park. It was the 37-year-old Frenchman’s 35th career victory, tying him with Bobby Unser for sixth on the all-time list.
“It’s like playing poker,” Bourdais said. “You know what hand you have right now at the moment, but every bet you make is going to work or not work based on what’s going to happen later on. You just have to make decisions and today we just got the lucky hand. The guys in the pits made the right call. Thankfully I didn’t make any mistakes, ran pretty well and pretty strong.”
Starting 13th in the No. 11 Team Hydroxycut – KVSH Racing Chevrolet, Bourdais fell as low as 19th after pitting early to change to the black-sidewall Firestone primary tires most drivers preferred in the race. He charged to fourth by Lap 32 but didn’t take the race lead until Lap 55 when reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon made his final pit stop.
Bourdais stopped for fuel only two laps later, and when Daly needed to pit for a splash of Sunoco E85R ethanol on Lap 61, Bourdais regained the lead and took it to the checkered flag. On the heels of winning the second race of the 2015 Dual in Detroit, Bourdais has now won two consecutive Belle Isle races.
This year’s second Chevrolet Dual in Detroit, also scheduled for 70 laps, is Sunday (3 p.m. ET on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network and 3:30 p.m. on ABC). It leaves Bourdais little time to savor the company he joined among Indy car racing’s all-time greats, three-time Indy 500 winner Unser, who also won 35 races.
“Every time you move up the ranks like this, you feel like you belong even more in a very elite group, a very small group of extremely talented drivers, some obviously who are legends,” Bourdais said. “I don’t know that I want to compare myself to any of those.”
Daly, meanwhile, was elated with second place, his best finish in 13 career Verizon IndyCar Series races.
“I am a happy human,” the 24-year-old American and Verizon IndyCar Series rookie said. “I have to continue to remember this is my first year, right? Everything has been all over the place up until this. To be on the podium my first year, it’s a really rewarding experience. I just hope I can do more, obviously.”
Team Penske’s quartet of drivers dominated the race early, with championship leader Simon Pagenaud, 2014 series champion Will Power and 1999 Indy car champion Juan Pablo Montoya leading the first 53 laps. But Pagenaud ran out of fuel on the final lap, finishing 13th, and Power’s day ended when a wheel nut on his car came loose on Lap 45, forcing him to pull off course.
Montoya finished third in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, his best result since winning the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in March.
“We were trying to play the rain,” Montoya said. “When we restarted, we never really pushed. We were trying to make sure we could make it to the rain and the rain never came. We tried to run a smart race, but it didn’t happen. We got a decent podium out of it, so I’m pretty happy about that.”
Graham Rahal finished fourth in the No. 15 United Rentals Honda, just ahead of Helio Castroneves in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet. Dixon finished 19th after suffering electrical issues in his No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, but not before setting a track record lap of 1 minute, 14.6675 seconds (113.302 mph) on Lap 30.
Pagenaud retains the championship lead after seven of 16 races with 313 points. Castroneves is second heading into Sunday’s second race with 254 points, ahead of Dixon (247), Carlos Munoz (227), Josef Newgarden (227), Montoya (223) and Alexander Rossi (223), who finished 10th, six days after winning the 100th Indianapolis 500.
NHL star Larkin serves as race grand marshal
Dylan Larkin, rookie phenom for the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, has spent much of his life speeding around the ice on hockey rinks. The 19-year-old Michigan native spent the past few days getting acclimated with the fast life of Verizon IndyCar Series racing.
Larkin was grand marshal for the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 1, where he issued the command for drivers to start their engines before the first race of the weekend doubleheader on the Raceway at Belle Isle Park. He also took a ride around the 2.35-mile temporary street course Thursday in the passenger seat of the INDYCAR Experience two-seater with 2003 Indianapolis 500 champion Gil de Ferran at the wheel.
“It’s been a real treat,” Larkin said this morning. “I’m a new fan of the sport.”
Larkin, the 15th overall pick by the Red Wings in the 2014 NHL entry draft, scored a team-leading 23 goals in his debut season in 2015-16, plus one in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs for Detroit.
The Red Wings center made his first visit to a racetrack this week. While his profession takes place on a sheet of ice, Larkin saw several similarities between athletes of professional hockey and the Verizon IndyCar Series.
“Attention to detail. I think it’s a bit more extreme in racing,” Larkin said. “Obviously your life is on the line. The way you prepare like any sport is similar between the two. It’s a great sport, an extreme sport. The drivers have got to love what they do like we do in our sport.”
Indy 500 winner Rossi writes school excuse for young karter
Alexander Rossi’s cross-country media tour this week following his Indianapolis 500 victory included a stop in Dallas for lunch with Texas Motor Speedway season-ticketholders. The Verizon IndyCar Series heads to TMS for the Firestone 600 on June 10-11.
While Rossi’s appearance was a highlight, the new American hero may have been upstaged by junior karting sensation Ashlyn Speed. The 11-year-old Texan missed school to attend the luncheon for a chance to meet Rossi.
She even requested Rossi write a written absence excuse letter for Brooke Moose, the school principal at Bear Creek Elementary in Euless, Texas. The note read: “Please excuse Ashlyn Speed from school on Wednesday because she is getting to meet the 2016 Indy 500 winner, Alexander Rossi.” Rossi added a handwritten addendum that read: “Ms. Moose, Thank you for letting Ashlyn come,” and signed the bottom of the note.
TMS president Eddie Gossage invited Speed on stage to take part in a ceremonial milk toast with Rossi to conclude the luncheon. With the famous Borg-Warner wreath draped around her neck, Speed chugged the champagne flute of milk symbolic of the tradition that takes place in Victory Circle at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the winners of the Indianapolis 500.