By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Sebastien Bourdais’ chances at a third consecutive top-10 finish disappeared moments after the drop of the green flag in Saturday night’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway Motorsports Park.
The outcome happened on the opening lap when his No. 18 SealMaster Honda slammed the Turn 1 wall, leaving him to finish last in the 21-car field, and in danger of falling out of the top 10 in the championship standings.
It’s Bourdais’ first last-place result since the Indy Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last May, and the ninth of his career in 186 starts.
“I have no idea what happened,” Bourdais on his accident. “I think Graham (Rahal) was getting a little loose inside, so I moved into the second grove. Then in the middle of Turn 2, the car got loose as (Ed) Jones made it three wide and I lost it.”
With 11th place Marco Andretti finishing 14th and only gaining seven points, Bourdais still retains tenth, but now by just seven with two rounds remaining.
Prior to his early exit, Bourdais showed rapid speed during Friday’s lone practice session, where he was third quickest. Then Mother Nature took over the short oval, resulting the cancellation of qualifying and the grid was set by points.
Bourdais’ starting position was ninth after the No. 6 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry withdrew after sixth-place driver Robert Wickens was injured last Sunday at Pocono Raceway.
Scott Dixon led the field to the green flag, meanwhile Bourdais’ night lasted 20 seconds after attempting to overtake Jones and Rahal by squeezing in the middle until his car snapped out of control. This resulted the first of two cautions of the night, and Bourdais’ second retirement of the season.
“It’s frustrating and a shame,” said Bourdais. “The SealMaster Honda No. 18 guys worked really hard and we had a good car. We will just have to regroup, and hopefully, have a better weekend at Portland.”
The 39-year-old will look for a huge turnaround and score his second win of the season when INDYCAR makes its return to the Pacific Northwest on Sept. 2 for the running of the Portland Grand Prix at Portland International Raceway in Oregon.
Bourdais is the most recent winner at the 1.964-mile road course, winning in 2007 for Newman Haas Lanigan Racing, where he beat Justin Wilson by 13.537 seconds and led 48 of 103 laps.