One might think Sebastian Bourdais would be relieved, if not elated, to have taken a ninth-place finish in a race in which he he was involved in a violent crash. Instead, the Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan driver was more annoyed than pleased, having been launched into a high-speed wheelie after hitting Carpenter Racing’s Spencer Pigot in Race 2 at Detroit, when the latter dived for the pits on Lap 15 to change his fading red tires.
Bourdais, who had qualified ninth, moved into seventh on the opening lap but pitted on Lap 3 to switch from the Firestone red alternate tires to the black primary tire. Closing on Pigot, the ECR driver tried to pit from the middle of the track as Bourdais was making a run on the inside. The resultant contact tore off Bourdais’ front wing and lifted the nose of the car, sending it down the track on just its rear wheels.
Amazingly, Bourdais was able to continue and make it around to the pits. The damage was significant, so in order to stay on the lead lap, Bourdais left the pit without a front wing and closed the gap to the field, which was running under a yellow flag. He pitted again a couple of laps later to complete the repairs and rejoined the race in 17th place, still on the lead lap, albeit the last car in the queue. Despite working with a damaged car from that point, the Frenchman charged on, twice recording the fastest lap of the race, while three more yellow-flag incidents allowed him to pick up several positions and secure the top-10 finish.
That wasn’t enough to satisfy, however.
“It’s just a real shame, the incident with Spencer (Pigot), because ultimately the SealMaster Honda No. 18 was in the mix,” fumed Bourdais. “I think we had the right strategy. We were going to be in contention. The reds as expected fell off and the guys who tried to make it, didn’t. We caught up with them and I don’t know what Spencer was thinking. I had a run on the inside and he tried to make it to the pits from the center lane when I was to his right rear. Then he jumped on the brakes. I’m not sure what I was supposed to do…
“The guys did a great job fixing the car and we reset and went again. The car was a little hurt, but we were still pretty quick. It was definitely a tough run coming from the back, but there were a lot of incidents which bought us some positions. So we’ll take our top-10 finish and move on to Texas.”