Bourdais Collects Verizon P1 Award For Phoenix Pole Position

Sebastien Bourdais wins the Verizon P1 Award at the ISM Raceway. [credit Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media]

Sebastien Bourdais wins the Verizon P1 Award at the ISM Raceway. [credit Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media]

AVONDALE, Arizona (Friday, April 6, 2018) – Sebastien Bourdais continued his sizzling start to the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season, setting the fastest speed in Verizon P1 Award qualifying today to earn the pole position for the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino Phoenix Grand Prix.

Sebastien Bourdais celebrates his Pole win at ISM Raceway. [credit Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media]

Sebastien Bourdais celebrates his Pole win at ISM Raceway. [credit Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media]

Following a victory in the season opener at St. Petersburg, Florida, on March 11, Bourdais averaged 188.539 mph for his two qualifying laps around ISM Raceway’s 1.022-mile oval in the No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda for Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan. Bourdais earned the 34th pole position of his 13-year Indy car career, breaking a tie for seventh place on the all-time list with Dario Franchitti.

“We just have got a great group of guys working really hard, trying to make it happen,” Bourdais said. “When you do, it’s really sweet.

“I really knew what I had (and) that’s the best possible way to go qualifying. I knew I could hang it out because I knew what I was running.”

A benefit of the being the championship points leader after winning the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Bourdais was last in the Phoenix qualifying order and ran in cooler conditions under the setting sun. It helped the 39-year-old from Le Mans, France, earn a pole position on an oval for the first time since Milwaukee in June 2006, when Bourdais was in the midst of winning four consecutive Champ Car titles. It was also the second pole in the 35-year history of Dale Coyne Racing, following Mike Conway at Detroit’s Belle Isle in 2013.

“That SealMaster No. 18 Honda was really solid,” Bourdais said. “As soon as that track temp cooled off, it just gives you all the grip you need to make it happen. It’s high tension, high pressure, really listening to the car and making sure you don’t overdo it.”

Simon Pagenaud, last year’s race winner at ISM Raceway, qualified second with a two-lap average of 188.148 mph in the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet. Teammate and 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power was third in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, at 186.852 mph.

“I think we did a really good job considering the conditions,” said Pagenaud, the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series champion. “The car, she was really nice, it was perfect. The No. 22 Menards team did a really good job. I think we’ve got a really good race car, so I’m excited.”

Alexander Rossi qualified fourth for Andretti Autosport in the No. 27 Honda (186.824 mph). Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates James Hinchcliffe and rookie Robert Wickens locked up the third row of the starting grid: Hinchcliffe qualifying fifth at 185.741 mph in the No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda and Wickens sixth in the No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda (185.362 mph).

“A huge credit to the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports guys because we did not have a great test here back in February,” Hinchcliffe said. “Obviously things have changed a lot conditions-wise, but we went back (after the test), had a big think about it, a big look inside ourselves. I just can’t thank those guys and gal enough for getting us good cars and getting us both up there. It’s awesome.”

Saturday’s 250-lap race will be the 64th for Indy cars at the historic mile oval outside Phoenix dating to when the track opened in 1964. The Desert Diamond West Valley Casino Phoenix Grand Prix airs live at 9 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Servia named second pace car driver for INDYCAR

INDYCAR announced that veteran racer Oriol Servia has been named a pace car driver for some Verizon IndyCar Series events this season, beginning with this weekend’s Desert Diamond West Valley Casino Phoenix Grand Prix.
Servia, 43, will split duties with Sarah Fisher, who has been an INDYCAR pace car driver since 2016.

“Sarah has done a great job for us, but she was unavailable for all of the races,” said Jay Frye, INDYCAR president of competition and operations. “Oriol is a pro and was a pleasure to work with last year when we did our new car testing. He was a natural choice for this position. We’re thrilled to have him.”

Servia, a veteran of 202 Indy car races dating to his rookie season in 2000, will still compete in the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil next month, driving for a team in a partnership between Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and successful sports-car operation Scuderia Corsa. Other racing opportunities could develop for the Spaniard, which makes the flexibility of having two pace car drivers at INDYCAR’s disposal a benefit.

When Fisher started as a pace car driver two years ago, she shared the duties with legendary Indy car champion Johnny Rutherford. She drove the pace car at every INDYCAR event last season. Servia credited Rutherford, a three-time Indy 500 winner, with developing the pace car duties into a role of ambassador for the sport, something Fisher carries on today.

“It’s an honor to be considered alongside Johnny Rutherford and Sarah Fisher,” Servia said. “It’s an incredible opportunity to give back to Indy car racing and connect with fans.”

Desert Diamond West Valley Casino Phoenix Grand Prix qualifying results
AVONDALE, Arizona – Qualifying Friday for the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino Phoenix Grand Prix Verizon IndyCar Series race on the 1.022-mile ISM Raceway, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, and speed in mph:
1. (18) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 188.539
2. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 188.148
3. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 186.852
4. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 186.824
5. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 185.741
6. (6) Robert Wickens, Honda, 185.362
7. (1) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 185.279
8. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 184.706
9. (14) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 184.595
10. (19) Pietro Fittipaldi, Honda, 184.548
11. (10) Ed Jones, Honda, 184.313
12. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 183.920
13. (30) Takuma Sato, Honda, 182.960
14. (32) Kyle Kaiser, Chevrolet, 182.859
15. (21) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 182.015
16. (4) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 181.817
17. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 181.804
18. (20) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 181.244
19. (88) Gabby Chaves, Chevrolet, 180.932
20. (98) Marco Andretti, Honda, 180.199
21. (59) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 178.462
22. (23) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 177.499
23. (26) Zach Veach, Honda, 175.733

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