By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
PORTLAND, Ore. – Sebastien Bourdais, two-time winner of the Grand Prix of Portland, confirmed during Friday’s media bullpen that he doesn’t have a contract set up with AJ Foyt Racing next season.
“Larry (Foyt) is trying to find the money to put it together. That’s the intention,” said Bourdais. “There’s a lot of pieces that need to fall together to make it possible. We’re not really focused on it, but doing the best we can this year. If we can continue, that’ll be great. If it doesn’t, it’s just what it is.”
With some teams such as Andretti Autosport intending to shuffle their driver lineup, Bourdais hasn’t been in any discussions. So much so, the mindset is clear for the four-time IndyCar champion.
“It’s going to be AJ Foyt Racing or nothing,” Bourdais commented.
For now, the main focus is ending his first full season with AJ Foyt Racing on a positive note. With just three rounds remaining, Bourdais reflected on how the campaign has gone as he’s currently 17th in the championship standings.
“It’s been a challenging season, for sure,” he said We were hoping to have a few things lined up than we did. We got hit a lot and ended up the wrong side of the fence.
“At the end of the day, we still made some steady progress with the team in comparison to last year. As far as performance is concerned, we seem to be more in the top-10 pace as far as qualifying. I’m pretty happy with that. It was one of the goals of Larry.
“I was hoping for more, but when you look at the density of the drivers and teams. It’s not really any surprise it’s that hard to get a top-10. I think we have to be somewhat satisfied with what we’ve done and keep the direction to the team. Whether it continues next or not. You always hope for more, but we did achieve quite a bit of work and I’m pretty happy with that.”
The momentum is there after finishing a season-best fifth at Gateway after starting the oval finale in 18th. Now going into Portland, the biggest challenge lying ahead of Bourdais and the other 26 competitors is tire degradation.
Qualifying will be held hours earlier than in previous years as it’ll be held at 12:15 p.m. local time. Conditions are expected to play a vital role as it’ll be partly cloudy skies with temperatures hitting as high as 78 degrees.
“If it stays overcast and temperatures stay fairly low, I think the tire deg will be a lot better than when it’s hot and sunny, for sure,” Bourdais explained. “But it’s true for everybody, so how much does that actually backed is tough to say. Should be easier to manage.”
As for as the 1.964-mile road course, high commitment is instrumental. A driver must extract every bit of speed to navigate the challenging road course.
Bourdais noted how unforgiving the circuit was to him in 2018 when he crashed in Saturday practice. It led to his then team (Dale Coyne Racing) to repair the car, creating a “Frankenstein” machine that ultimately qualified fourth and ended up third on race day.
“I had a pretty big shunt on the tight chicane (Turns 10-12),” said Bourdais. “It’s a challenge and that’s what we like.”
Live coverage of qualifying begins at 3:15 p.m. ET on Peacock with the NBCSN tape delay set to air at 11:30 p.m. ET. Race day coverage of the 110-lap contest commences at 3:00 p.m. on NBC with the green flag scheduled at 3:42 p.m.