TORONTO – “It's been quite a journey, but that's the career of a race car driver,” said Sebastien Bourdais following his victory in Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto.
It was his 32nd career Indy car win – and the first since Nov. 11, 2007, at Mexico City – breaking a tie with Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy for eighth all time. The four-time Champ Car champion’s first victory came at Brands Hatch on May 5, 2003.
Victory on the Toronto street circuit on July 11, 2004, was No. 7. Next on the career list is Scott Dixon, who is the active leader with 33 wins.
“It's definitely one of the tracks where I've been the most consistent since my return to IndyCar (in 2011),” he said. “It was one of the very hardest races I had in '03. I just couldn't get comfortable with the car, didn't figure out the whole thing with the (racing surface) patches and stuff, and then I came back in '04 after looking at a bunch of video and camera data and stuff and I figured something out, and I got to point out what was the track, what was the car, and where you had to focus on to make the car good and quick around the track.
“It’s definitely a place that I've been putting up good, very strong performances and to be back on the top step in the way we have done it pretty much like the good 'ole days it's very special.”
In ’07, Bourdais won the Champ Car World Series title for the fourth consecutive year in a Newman/Haas Racing car. He claimed eight wins in 14 starts, including the final two of the season at Surfers Paradise, Australia, and Mexico City.
“All of us at Newman/Haas probably realized how special this time was when it was behind us, and it's always like that,” he said. “When you reflect on everything that happened, it was very, very, very extraordinary. And now, to be able to do it with the density of the field in the way we have done it today is very special and shows that I still got it.”
Tracy won his first race on April 18, 1993, at Long Beach and his 31st on June 24, 2007, at Cleveland. Franchitti’s last victory was his third Indianapolis 500 on May 27, 2012, and his first was on Aug. 16, 1998, at Road America.
Franchitti won three times at Exhibition Place in Toronto, and Tracy won twice in his homeland.
Call him ‘coach’
Tony Kanaan, who finished third in Race 1, said Franchitti has been invaluable as a consultant with Target Chip Ganassi Racing this season. Franchitti retired from competitive auto racing in November 2013.
“I call him ‘Coach’ and his experience is extremely high,” Kanaan said. “I've had him as a teammate and he had some secrets around some places that he would never tell me as a teammate because those are the things that you can't say so the biggest advantage for me this year is to have him around and he's retired so I'm finding out little things here and there that worked.
“He always has something constructive to say, so it's almost like two people driving the race car these days; it's me and him. I'm glad to have him and he did help here this weekend quite a bit.”
Actor James Garner, best known for his prime-time television roles as the wisecracking frontier gambler on “Maverick" and as an ex-con turned private eye on "“The Rockford Files," died July 19. He was 86.
Garner was the honorary pace car driver for the 1975, ’77 and ’85 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. Among his movies was “Grand Prix.”
"All of us at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are saddened by the passing of James Garner. He was a true friend of the Indianapolis 500 and his passion for the event, for the sport, and its fans made his many appearances at the race something to look forward to each year,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway president J. Douglas Boles said.
Dr. John Melvin, whose numerous contributions helped make motorsports safer, died July 17. He was an early developer of the on-board data recorder and contributor to the SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) Barrier project initially developed by INDYCAR in conjunction with the University of Nebraska. Melvin attended the Verizon IndyCar Series race at Iowa Speedway on July 12.
On July 19, Bourdais earned the Verizon P1 Award for Race 1. It was his 32nd Indy car pole start, tying Michael Andretti for eighth on the all-time list. ... Bourdais was the ninth different race winner this season. ... Kanaan and Scott Dixon finished in the top five in Race 1 for their 115th career top five. ... Spencer Pigot, the championship points leader in Pro Mazda, won the GT3 Cup Challenge race.