Sebastien Bourdais Runs Solidly in Season Opener at Barber

By Christian Koelle, Staff Writer

Sebastien Bourdais had a solid afternoon Sunday in Birmingham. 

After starting 16th, Bourdais successfully made it through the first lap crash involving a good chunk of competitors including Josef Newgarden, Colton Herta, Ryan Hunter-Reay, among others. As many of the drivers failed to complete a lap, Bourdais was able to make up a good chunk of positions restarting the race from the 14th position.

After Jimmie Johnson spun around lap 10, Bourdais was able to bring it down pit road for the first time. He would restart the race from the 17th and work his way through the field as time passed. By lap 24 Bourdais and team would crack the top-10 racing with Rinus Veekay, Graham Rahal, and Jack Harvey for position. 

By lap 33, Bourdais would work his way all the way up to the fourth position as drivers pitted. Around lap 36, he found himself in the lead for the first time of the afternoon. Bourdais would lead his first laps since Portland last season before surrendering the lead on lap 38 to pit. He’d fall down to 7th but from that point wouldn’t fall any further.

While battling for fifth on lap 45, he and Pato O’Ward would make contact in Charlotte’s corner and would take the position from the polesitter. When Will Power came down pit road for the final time, the lead would be handed back to Bourdais. With the battle for the lead and ultimately the win going on behind him, he brought the No. 14 down pit road for the final time of the afternoon. 

He would come out eighth and work his way up to sixth with 20 laps remaining. Bourdais would get passed by Marcus Ericsson for fifth but Bourdais would make his way back past him with 14 laps remaining. He wouldn’t be able to make it back to O’Ward and would settle for a fifth-place finish, his second straight top-five finish with AJ Foyt Racing. 

“A very good run for the No. 14 ROKIT Chevrolet and AJ Foyt Racing,” said Bourdais. “A very sold day, very solid race with a good strategy and good pit stops and good pace. I’m really happy for the whole team. We overcame a dodgy day after starting 16th and put on a good show and made a bunch of passes. We’re really happy with everybody and looking forward to St. Petersburg.”

Leading a total of four laps Sunday was the most laps he’d led since the last time IndyCar raced at Barber in 2019.

Bourdais heads to St. Petersburg fifth in the points standings with 31 points, 22 points behind points leader Alex Palou. He has two career victories at St. Petersburg most recently in 2017. AJ Foyt Racing is still searching for its first victory in IndyCar since 2013. Can the Frenchman help return AJ Foyt Racing to its former glory after two straight solid races?  

Cover Photo: Joe Skibinski/Getty Images/IndyCar Media

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