By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer
Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach displayed the talents of Dale Coyne Racing’s driver duo of Sebastien Bourdais and Ed Jones as they managed second and sixth place finishes in the second round of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
Bourdais, coming off of a win at the season opening race on the streets of St. Petersburg, started 12th but moved to tenth after the first lap contact between Charlie Kimball and Will Power brought them to the back of the pack.
Bourdais proceeded to pit under the caution, setting him up for a modified two stop strategy and allowing him to run the rest of the race on the red sidewall Firestone tires.
After the first round of pit stops for the regular three stop strategy runners, the four time Champ Car champion made his way to fifth place before stopping on Lap 30 for his first mid race pit stop, falling back to tenth place.
Bourdais climbed to fourth following Scott Dixon’s second pit stop. During the got up to second place before the Frenchman pitted for the final time on Lap 58. The three-time Long Beach winner was seventh following his final pit stop but that became third place following Dixon, Helio Castroneves and Josef Newgarden’s pit stops and Alexander Rossi’s retirement from third place.
Bourdais got second place following Ryan Hunter-Reay’s retirement late in the race but was unable to challenge James Hinchcliffe for the victory.
Given Bourdais’s start, it’s amazing he finished where he did.
“Unfortunately, a big piece of endplate or whatever it was flew off, and I ducked it. But the rear wings couldn’t do the same, so it took pretty much the whole left rear of the rear wing and endplate and left rear winglet off,” Bourdais said. “It went yellow. We were, like, debating in the pits whether we were going to stop or not, because obviously at that point we’re, like, 10th or something. It’s like, man, that really hurts. But we really didn’t have a choice, there was too much damage to the car.
We came in, changed the whole rear assembly, put on the red tires, the red Firestone tires, and filled the car up. So from there we had a bit less fuel saving, but not obviously much. We just, you know, decided to stick with our two-stop strategy, then kind of made it work.”
And work it did.
Meanwhile, teammate Jones started 13th and found himself in ninth after the opening lap contact and after Bourdais and Tony Kanaan pitted.
Jones was able to get up to seventh place before his second pitstop as a three stop runner on Lap 37 dropped him back to 14th. He climbed to eighth before his final pit stop on Lap 62 and put on fresh red sidewall tires, allowing him to charge hard to the end.
Jones came off of the caution for Rossi’s retirement in ninth place and was able to get around Spencer Pigot to get eighth and got seventh when Graham Rahal pitted late with a flat tire before the final caution for Hunter-Reay’s retirement got Jones to sixth.
Bourdais was complimentary of the 2016 Indy Lights champion’s performance and how he’s been as a teammate.
” I’m super happy for the whole team. Super happy for Ed because he’s a really good kid. There’s nothing I can say that’s negative about him. He’s very open. He’s straightforward, pleasant to work, just a good kid. He’s quick, like I said, reliable, doesn’t make mistakes. I’m happy for him.”
Bourdais and Jones gave Dale Coyne Racing one of their best days ever at Long Beach and continued one of their best starts to a season ever as in two races the team has scored four top ten finishes between the two of them.
The team hopes to continue that momentum at Barber Motorsports Park for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.
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