A shaken Sebastien Bourdais was reluctant to get back in his No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda when Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 resumed after a lengthy red flag, moved by a mix of long memory and concerns over repairs to the gaping hole in the catch fence.
Contact on lap 7 between the left-rear wheel of Ryan Hunter-Reay and the right-front of Robert Wickens sent the Canadian rookie’s Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda over the SAFER barrier, where it was torn apart in the steel catch fencing.
Bourdais recounted his view of the crash to NBC Sports:
“Just a cloud of debris, and big chunks, like big pieces. Saw Robert in the fence and that’s the worst sight, really. If, other than being in it. I was really worried for him, seems like he’s conscious and awake – he’s hurt – but I hope not too bad. He’s alive.”
Asked how he saw the rest of the race playing out, Bourdais clearly did not want to get in the car at that moment.
“Right now I’m not quite back in the game yet, need to see what the race distance is going to be, it’s wide open questions, it’s getting late already, what’s gonna happen I have no idea.
“Whether it’s two hours behind, six hours behind, or two weeks or a year [after a big crash], it’s what we do. It’s a bit easier if you know the guy’s made it.”
When the drivers were called back to their cars after the 1 hour, 56 minute red flag, Bourdais initially refused. Both Bourdais and some team members were unhappy with the fence repair, which involved overlapping a chain-link fence to cover the hole. Team owner Dale Coyne wound up driving him back to his car just a few minutes before engines were refired.
After his fourth-place finish, Bourdais explained to NBC Sports why he hesitated.
“I’m old but I’m not wiser,” “Everybody’s in the seat and you gotta go. I wasn’t happy with it at all. The construction guys said thumbs-up; I’m glad nobody tried it because I’m not sure that would have been satisfactory. It’s just tough moments.
“When we saw the extent of the damage I had a pretty good idea that it wasn’t gonna get fixed properly, and it wasn’t. The cables were loose, and it was just like, it was pretty lousy. So I wasn’t happy with it at all.”