WEST ALLIS, Wis. – Sebastien Bourdais is "The Big Cheese" of Greater Milwaukee. At least that's what is written on the winner's trophy he lifted in Victory Circle following the 113th Indy car race at The Milwaukee Mile.
Bourdais, who donned a cheese head during the post-race celebration, collected his fifth Indy car victory on an oval – his first since winning at The Mile in 2006 – and 34th overall by dominating the second half of the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest presented by the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers.
Bourdais, who led a field-high 118 laps, had built a large enough cushion on his competitors that he retained the lead after pitting on Lap 213 of 250 on the 1.015-mile historic oval. He then held off Helio Castroneves in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet on a Lap 232 restart and sped away to a 2.2366-second victory.
“It’s just awesome, especially here at Milwaukee because it’s such a historic place. It was one of my favorite tracks when I was racing here,” team co-owner Jimmy Vasser said. “In the fashion he did it … we put ourselves on a different strategy to be able to let him go when he could and then in the box saving fuel. He lapped the field. It was awesome.”
Bourdais led 117 laps from the pole in winning the 225-lap race at The Mile in June 2006 for his fourth consecutive victory to start the season.
“On these ovals, you can go from hero to zero and back to hero again. I guess that’s my story,” said Bourdais, who qualified 11th. “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.”
Graham Rahal, who won the MAVTV 500 on June 27, finished third in the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda and Juan Pablo Montoya finished fourth in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.
Pole sitter Josef Newgarden led 109 laps and finished fifth in the No. 67 CFH Racing Chevrolet.
For the second consecutive race, a DNF by Will Power provided Montoya an opportunity to increase his championship points lead. Scott Dixon, who was making his 250th Indy car start, overtook Power for second in the standings with a seventh-place finish in the No. 9 Cottonelle Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.
Montoya takes a 54-point advantage into the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway on July 18. Power is tied with Rahal and Castroneves with 370 points.
Power’s No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet was collected in a Lap 131 incident off a restart when the No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda driven by Ryan Briscoe spun in Turn 4.
“No question it makes it tough. We just have to focus and move on to the next one,” said Power, the reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion who won from the pole at Milwaukee in 2014.
Castroneves started last in the 24-car field because of a qualifying rule violation.
“I was pushing to the limit," he said. "I knew the Hitachi car would be very good, but the 11 car was very fast. That seemed to be the key here. That was a hell of a job by the guys. We had a little miscue with qualifying but we never lost faith. We focused on the race. I’m just so proud and honored to be part of this team."