The Mazda Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland presented by Joe's Sports and Outdoor began and ended in historic fashion, with Justin Wilson leading away from Champ Car's first standing start and Sebastien Bourdais leading the field home for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing's 100th race win.
Every driver was able to get away at the start, setting the tone for a caution-free day - the first in Champ Car since Road America 2000 - which saw Bourdais# #1 McDonald's Panoz cruise to its third straight win after success in both Long Beach and Houston.
Polesitter Wilson stormed out to an early lead and continued to pull away, gaining a 15-second lead before the first round of pit-stops.
"I got a little too much wheelspin and Robert Doornbos got a clean jump," the Briton revealed, "I was just watching him alongside - when he braked, I braked. That made it pretty simple. I was on the inside and got through."
“I thought I had a better start than Justin," Doornbos agreed, "I proved it because I was alongside him - then I just got a bit too excited with a miss-shift and the advantage was gone. There was such a big fuss about the start approaching the weekend, but I think we proved that you can make normal starts without any hassle as long as you are just relaxed. I think the procedure went very well."
The best start, however, came from Will Power, who jumped from seventh to third after the Festival Curves - with Bourdais and Alex Tagliani hot on his heels. Further back, the returning Paul Tracy gained four positions on the first lap but spun in turn six third time around and spent the rest of the race on an alternative strategy as he tried to work his way back through the field, eventually finishing tenth.
Tracy was the first driver to duck into pit-lane for service, on lap 17, while Bourdais stretched his fuel economy to the max, not pitting until the 29th circuit, then short-filling the #1 car and coming out in second position. Power's Team Australia crew also did their job, allowing the Las Vegas winner to gain third from Minardi Team USA's Robert Doornbos. The two would continue to battle throughout the 103-lap event, with the Dutchman eventually retaking the place to earn his third podium finish in four Champ Car. Power finished fourth.
"My third podium in four races, obviously it's great," Doornbos said, "It's good for the team, and the guys did a good job with the pit-stops, very consistent. We proved today that, if we want to win races or challenge these guys - Sebastien or Justin - we need to improve the car more. We have now two weeks to make the next jump, so hopefully the guys can work hard and we can be even stronger in Cleveland.”
While Doornbos and Power were battling, Bourdais began to close the gap Wilson had built up, running slightly faster lap times throughout the second stint and putting himself in position to challenge the Briton just after the second round of pit-stops. Bourdais lined Wilson up down the main straight and got the better of him through turn one, before pulling steadily away to record a near 14-second victory.