Photo: Chris Owens/INDYCAR

Bourdais Outmatches the Field in Detroit

By Josh Farmer, IndyCar Reporter

Sebastien Bourdais and KVSH Racing had the perfect mix of good strategy and defensive driving which propelled them to their second straight win at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park.

Bourdais’ race to the win started on lap three when he pitted along with many other drivers to switch over to the harder compound black tires while the Team Penske brigade of Simon Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya led the field out front.

Pagenaud elected to stay out and keep track position and didn’t make his first pitstop until lap 23 which handed the lead over to Will Power and eventually to Juan Pablo Montoya when Power hit the pits. Pagenenaud found his way back to the lead on lap 33 when Power and Montoya ran wide in turn 3 which opened the track in front of him.

Luck fell in Bourdais’ favor on lap 42 when James Hinchcliffe slide into the tire barriers in Turn 7, which brought out the second yellow flag of the day and forced the leaders onto pit road. Having just pitted on lap 35, Bourdais picked up valuable track position and lined up behind Juan Pablo Montoya, Graham Rahal and Scott Dixon on the restart who had also pitted before the yellow flag flew.

Montoya cleanly pulled away from Graham Rahal on the restart and held the lead before it was time for his final stop of the day on lap 54. Dixon picked up the lead for only one lap as he made his final stop, but found himself eliminated from the race as the gearbox failed on his #9 Target Chevrolet. Bourdais then picked up the lead over Conor Daly, who was on the same strategy as the Frenchman.

After leading for two laps, Bourdais pitted on lap 57 and now had the task of his crew performing a perfect pitstop and needing a perfect out lap in order to stay ahead of Montoya. The pitstop was perfect and Bourdais came out of the pits right in front of Montoya and was able to take the defensive line on the straightaway between Turns 1 and 2 and keep Montoya at bay.

Meanwhile, Daly inherited a near 20 second lead over Bourdais before making a splash and go pitstop on lap 72 and surrendering the lead back over to Bourdais. Bourdais then kept a somewhat healthy lead over Daly until lapped traffic came into play and the lead shrank from 3.15s to 1.25s as Bourdais moved his way around the lapped cars of James Hinchcliffe and Marco Andretti.

Despite traffic getting in the way, Bourdais managed to keep Daly a distant second and cross the finish line with 2.04s in the bank.

“The call was obviously really quick, and all we needed was clean air to come back from the pretty average qualifying, and I really couldn’t dream of that. I don’t even know how we got there. We just ran like stink most of the race and it worked out so I couldn’t be any happier for Chevrolet and Hydroxycut today.”

Daly’s clean day earned him a career best finish of second place and his first career podium. It was also the first podium for Dale Coyne Racing since Carlos Huertas’ win at the Grand Prix of Houston in 2013.

Montoya held on for third place while Graham Rahal tore through the field on the final stint of the race in order to claim his fourth top five finish of the season in fourth place and rounding out the top five was Helio Castroneves.

Ryan Hunter-Reay recovered from a poor qualifying run yesterday to finish in seventh place while Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Charlie Kimball and Tony Kanaan claimed eighth and ninth place and Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi completed the top 10.

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Josh Farmer joined the media center in 2012 after first discovering his love of IndyCar racing in 2004 at Auto Club Speedway. He has been an accredited member of the IndyCar media center since 2014 and also contributes to along with The Motorsports Tribune.

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