Sebastien Bourdais will start third on the grid at the Watkins Glen International on Sunday after an exciting qualifying, although the Frenchman once again found it a struggle to get the supposedly faster red-walled Firestone tyre to work.
The KVSH Racing driver has been quick on the black-walled tyres throughout the weekend, but once the reds were bolted on for the first time in qualifying, he began to struggle with the balance of the car.
“It was a pretty exciting session for the Hydroxycut – KVSH Racing Team,” admitted Bourdais. “It started off about as bad as it could.
“It was the bad red surprise, which is becoming annoyingly familiar for us unfortunately. It is always the same process. You set your car up with what you’re given, which is the black Firestone tyres and they’re great. We can always make them work.
“Then for qualifying you get the ‘candy surprise’. We can’t extract any performance out of them. We just get movement, understeer, it disconnects the car…it’s a mess.”
Bourdais revealed that he ran out of fuel at the end of qualifying, but feels to be close to Scott Dixon and Will Power the team are in a good position heading into the race.
“I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow in the race, to be honest, but for sure the Hydroxycut/Chevy machine is quick on black tyres,” said Bourdais. “It’s too bad we didn’t put the car on pole, but my bad.
“I made a mistake and then ran out of gas because we did an extra lap which was not accounted for. So it is what it is. Nevertheless, when you are close to Scott (Dixon) and Will (Power) at these kind of tracks you know you’ve done a good job. It’s our best qualifying position of the season, so we’ll take it.”