Bourdais claims first IndyCar oval win in nine years at Milwaukee


Credit: Chris Jones

KVSH Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais has taken his fifth win on a Verizon IndyCar Series oval, his first since 2006, at the Wisconsin 250.

As well as being his fifth win on an oval, it was also his 34th in IndyCar of all time – tying with Al Unser Jr. on the all time wins list.

When the green flag flew on the mile long circuit, it was pole sitter Josef Newgarden who took a strong early lead, heading the pack round for 54 laps until pit stops saw him briefly surrender that lead to Graham Rahal. However, on lap 60 Newgarden was back in the driving seat and led the field – which by this point had sadly lost Pippa Mann in her Dale Coyne Racing Dallara suffering from handling issues – into lap 100.

From that lap until the caution on lap 113 to recover the bits of James Jakes’ engine – leaders included Bourdais for a lap, Justin Wilson for a lap, and Scott Dixon until lap 116.

It was at this point that Bourdais – in his Chevrolet powered car – pulled a masterstroke on his rivals. During the first caution period, when his and numerous rivals tyres were roughly 10 laps old, he didn’t pit and decided to stay out – many others decided to try and take a ‘free’ pitstop.

His decision paid off only a few laps later as on the restart, Ryan Briscoe and Will Power made contact and immediately put each other out of the race. Obviously that brought out another safety car, but even then Bourdais didn’t make a pit stop – it was only 30 laps after the safety car came back in that he made his stop, lap 171.

Only 17 laps later he regained his lead, and for the final 62 laps he tried to both put himself in a position to comfortably win without needing to stop too many times, whilst ensuring Helio Castroneves – who had started last on the grid because of a qualifying penalty – charge up to second place aiming for first.

Thankfully for him, and everyone at KVSH Racing, he managed to hold on and take a win made even more remarkable considering he started in 11th place.

After the race the multiple Champ Car Champion said: “On these ovals, you can go from hero to zero and back to hero again. I guess that’s my story. It’s so much about momentum when you can feel one with the car, and today the guys gave me an awesome car. It felt pretty good off the truck and I thought, ‘This could be a pretty good weekend.’ And then we messed up qualifying.

“Never did I think we could come up through the field and pass everybody. It’s just unbelievable. It’s what these places do to you. When the car is right, it’s so, so special.”

Only four races remain of this Verizon IndyCar Series season with Juan Pablo Montoya leading in the points standings going to the Iowa Corn Indy by 54 points over Scott Dixon.