Buddy Rice came back from an early spin to take fourth for Rahal-Letterman Racing, his best result since last August at Infineon Raceway, and Felipe Giaffone completed the top five for A.J. Foyt Racing, that team’s best finish since Airton Dare won for the team at Kansas Speedway in 2002.
Ed Carpenter finished a career-best sixth, with points leader Helio Castroneves, Danica Patrick, Scott Sharp and Tomas Scheckter completing the top 10. Castroneves suffered a couple of spins and a refueling problem, Patrick got spun out by Eddie Cheever on a restart and fought back from a lap down to claim her fourth consecutive top-10 finish, and Scheckter also spun after leading early.
As at Indianapolis, Marco Andretti was the star of the show, setting the race’s fastest lap, and was charging through the field when he was also hit by Cheever and taken out. Andretti’s teammates Tony Kanaan, who also led early, and Bryan Herta got together and spoiled their races, relegating them to 11th and 13th, respectively. Finishing between them was Indy winner Sam Hornish Jr., who spun and fell back in the pack early. The fourth Andretti-Green Racing car of Dario Franchitti had a couple of spins and finished 14th. Defending series champ Dan Wheldon led for a time, but suffered a broken halfshaft on a pit stop and was out on the spot.
The teams, or at least most of them, will be looking forward to putting the carnage and confusion of Watkins Glen in the rear-view mirror as they head to Texas Motor Speedway next weekend for another of the high-speed nail-biters for which they have become so well known.
IRL Indy Car Series Top Five:
1) Scott Dixon, No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Honda, 55 laps
2) Vitor Meira, No. 4 Panther Racing Dallara/Honda, -2.3311sec
3) Ryan Briscoe, No. 5 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Honda, -2.7999sec
4) Buddy Rice, No. 15 Rahal-Letterman Racing Panoz/Honda, -9.2284sec
5) Felipe Giaffone, No. 14 A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Honda, -11.4811
Driver’s Championship: 1) Helio Castroneves, 182; 2) Scott Dixon, 170; 3) Sam Hornish Jr., 162; 3) Dan Wheldon, 157; 5) Tony Kanaan, 138.
Champ Car: Bourdais Masters the Milwaukee Mile
Two-time and defending series champ Sebastien Bourdais continued his winning streak on Sunday, winning at the Milwaukee Mile to claim his fourth win in as many events this year and erasing Milwaukee from the increasingly shorter list of tracks at which he has not won.
Bourdais rallied from an early-race flat tire to work his way back through the field and score a convincing, 3.612sec victory over Justin Wilson. Nelson Philippe scored his best-ever series result with a third-place finish, with Wilson’s teammate A.J. Allmendinger and Oriol Servia (one lap down) rounding out the top five. Katherine Legge, who made history by becoming the first woman ever to lead a Champ Car race, Andrew Ranger, Dan Clark, Charles Zwolsman and Nicky Pastorelli completed the top 10. No other cars were running at the finish.
The race started with a bang, as Forsythe Racing’s Mario Dominguez slid up into Bourdais’ teammate Bruno Junqueira on Lap 3, with both spinning and collecting Dominguez’ teammate Paul Tracy in the process, taking out three very competitive cars. This was almost a carbon copy of a similar incident at Long Beach, except that Dominguez was able to continue in that instance. As could be expected, Tracy didn’t have many kind words for his teammate afterwards.
The series heads cross-country to Portland International Raceway, where they will race in two weeks.
Champ Car World Series Top Five:
1) Sebastien Bourdais, No. 1 Newman-Haas Racing Lola/Ford-Cosworth, 197 laps
2) Justin Wilson, No. 9 RuSport Lola/Ford-Cosworth, -3.612sec
3) Nelson Philippe, No. 4 CTE Racing-HVM Lola/Ford-Cosworth, -5.640sec
4) A.J. Allmendinger, No. 10 RuSport Lola/Ford-Cosworth, -18.504sec
5) Oriol Servia, No. 6 PKV Racing Lola/Ford-Cosworth, -1 lap
Driver’s Championship: 1) Sebastien Bourdais, 136; 2) Justin Wilson, 105; 2) Mario Dominguez, 76; 4) Andrew Ranger, 75; 5) A.J. Allmendinger, 69.
ACO: Pescarolo/Judd Leads Le Mans Test Day
The 74th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will take place in two weeks, and Sunday was the only opportunity for the teams to practice on the legendary 8.476-mile circuit, which incorporates a number of public roads that have to be shut down for the occasion. Each year the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) arranges a two-day test session on the circuit two weeks before the event, with scrutineering on Saturday and eight hours of track time on Sunday. The test gives drivers new to Le Mans an opportunity to acclimatize themselves to the track (all new drivers must do 10 laps of practice), and gives a hint of what might be expected in the big race.
This year, the new diesel Audi R10 will make its debut at Le Mans, and will be battling it out with the two-car team of Le Mans legend Henri Pescarolo, who builds his own chassis powered by Judd V10 engines. After a back-and-forth second session, the No. 17 Pescarolo/Judd of Franck Montagny and Eric Helary (who will be joined by rally champion Sebastien Loeb for the race) topped the time sheets with a lap at 3:30.195, edging the No. 7 Audi R10 of Allan McNish/Tom Kristensen/Rinaldo Capello by 1.895sec. Montagny’s fast lap compares favorably to the lap record of 3:29.905 set in 2002 by Capello in an Audi R8.
In the LMP2 class, the No. 25 RML Competition Lola/AER of Tommy Erdos/Mike Newton set the pace in 11th overall at 3:41.873, with the No. 22 Rollcentre Racing Radical/Judd of Joao Barbosa/Martin Short/Stuart Moseley and the No. 33 Intersport Racing Lola/AER of American Le Mans Series regulars Clint Field/Liz Halliday filling out the top three in class.
As was the case last year and at Sebring in March, the GT1 class will be a battle between the Corvettes C6Rs and Aston Martin DBR9s, and the Astons had the fast times today. Tomas Enge set the quick lap of the bunch in the No. 007 Aston he shares with Darren Turner and Andrea Piccini at 3:51.408 for 17th overall, with the sister No. 009 of Pedro Lamy/Stephane Ortelli/Stephane Sarrazin second in class. The two Corvettes were third and fourth, with the No. 64 of Oliver Gavin/Olivier Beretta/Jan Magnussen ahead of the sister No. 64 of Ron Fellows/Johnny O’Connell/Max Papis.
The GT2 class shows good variety this year, with the customary Porsche squad facing competition from a Ferrari F430 GT, a pair of Panoz Esperantes and two Spyker C8s. The No. 87 Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari of Andrew Kirkaldy/Chris Niarchos/Tim Mullen set the test day pace with a lap at 4:04.252 in 35th overall, a half-second ahead of the No. 76 IMSA Performance Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Romain Dumas/Raymond Narac/Luca Riccitelli. Third and fourth in class went to two ALMS teams, the No. 80 Flying Lizard Porsche of Johannes van Overbeek/Seth Neiman/Marc Lieb and the No. 77 Multimatic Panoz Esperante of Scott Maxwell/Gunnar Jeannette/Tom Milner.