IndyCar Flashback: 2007 Mazda ChampCar Grand Prix of Portland

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This weekend, the Verizon IndyCar Series makes its long-awaited return to Portland International Raceway. A former mainstay on the schedule, Sunday’s race will mark the first on the 1.964-mile road course since 2007. For this week’s IndyCar Flashback we profile that 2007 race, which featured several historic elements.

Bourdais Outlasts Wilson for 100th Newman-Haas Win

The fourth round of the 2007 ChampCar World Series season got off to a historic start. For the first time, a standing start would be utilized over the traditional rolling start. Polesitter Justin Wilson got off to a great start and led the first 26 laps.

During the first set of pit stops, Robert Doornbos led for the first time in his career. Points leader Sebastien Bourdais would also take his turn at the top spot before Wilson cycled to the lead again on Lap 30.

Wilson again raced out to a big lead before the second round of pit stops on Lap 54. Team Australia’s Will Power led for three laps before Bourdais again inherited control of the race. From there, it was the 2004 winner’s race to lose.

Bourdais used a daring pass of Wilson down the front straightaway to take the lead away from Wilson on Lap 57. The warmer tires and track position proved to be all he needed. Although Wilson briefly held the lead on Lap 80, Bourdais dominated the second half of the race. In all, he led 48 laps (Wilson led the most-51), including 46 of the final 47.

Bourdais and Newman-Haas celebrate their 100th career win (ChampCar Media)

He would cross the finish line 13.537 seconds ahead of Wilson, earning his third straight win.

It also marked the 26th of his career, tying him with Rodger Ward for tenth on the all-time win list.

Joining Bourdais and Wilson on the podium would be Doornbos. The Minardi Team USA driver had his third podium in four races.

The cautio0n-free race became the sixth in the track’s history and first since Michael Andretti’s 1991 win. With an average speed of 114.816 MPH, it fell just short of the record set in 1991 (115.208 MPH)

In addition to Bourdais’ accomplishment, Newman-Haas also earned their 100th career win at the event. Only Team Penske had managed to accomplish the feat before.

Analysis

The 2007 Mazda ChampCar Grand Prix of Portland became the beginning and end of several eras for IndyCar racing. Here’s a look at some of what has transpired in the last 11 years.

Sebastien Bourdais and Newman-Haas

Bourdais would win five more races and a fourth straight championship in 2007. Following the season Bourdais moved on to Formula and Newman-Haas elected to join the reunified IndyCar Series.

Newman-Haas won two more races in 2008 with Graham Rahal and Wilson. The 2008 triumph with Wilson at Belle Isle would be the team’s last and they shut down following the 2011 season.

Robert Doornbos

Doornbos continued the strong start to his strong rookie campaign throughout 2007. Three weeks after Portland, he earned his first victory at Mont-Tremblant. Before season’s end, Doornbos added another victory on the San Jose street course. Ultimately, he finished third in the standings behind Bourdais and Wilson.

Standing Starts

Standing starts, which had traditionally been utilized overseas in series like Formula 1, became the norm in ChampCar from then on. In 2013, IndyCar implemented standing starts for select road and street courses races. After numerous problems during its utilization, the series switched to rolling starts for all tracks in 2015 and has done so ever since.

Header Image by ChampCar Media

Spencer Neff

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