AJ Allmendinger at Road America during Saturday qualifying. Photo Credit: Anthony Kent, USA LAT Photographic
Allmendinger Stalls Frenchie At Road America - Scores 5th Win Of The Season
Sebastian Bourdais will just have to wait to clinch this year's series championship and to capture bragging rights to three championships in a row.
Said AJ Allmendinger in the post race interview after notching his fifth win for Forsythe Racing this season, "I just wasn't going to let the Frenchman clinch the championship here on American soil."
Now, The Champ Car World Series takes its act "down-under" to Surfers Paradise, Australia (October 20 - 22, 2006) for the season's penultimate run before the season ending race in Mexico City (November 10 - 12, 2006).
This UPDATE from The Sports Network -
Allmendinger wins at Road America
Elkhart Lake, WI (Sports Network) - American A.J. Allmendinger captured Sunday's Grand Prix of Road America. The No.7 Forsythe Championship Racing driver crossed the finish line 0.674 seconds ahead of Bruno Junqueira.
The victory was the Allmendinger's fifth of the season and fifth of his Champ Car career and keeps him in the championship race.
While pole winner Dan Clarke took the green flag and smartly led the field through the first lap, an accident behind him brought out the caution flag even before the drivers had taken a second turn. Will Power, Bruno Junqueira and Jan Heylen were involved.
Sebastien Bourdais and Will Power lead into turn 3 the field at the start of Qualifying. Photo Credit: Leland Hill, USA LAT Photographic
On lap four, Charles Zwolsman went to the lead past Clarke, but he didn't get to enjoy the top spot for long as two-time series champion Sebastien Bourdais went flying by the No.34 Lola.
By lap seven, the Frenchman's lead was more than three seconds over Clarke, who had fought his way around Zwolsman. Six laps later the margin was almost nine seconds as Bourdais was setting a torrid pace.
But a caution flag brought on by a Power accident in turn one, quickly eliminated Bourdais' huge lead.
When they went back to green, Bourdais jumped on second-place Allmendinger. By lap 22, the margin was five seconds and his laps were more than two seconds better than the second-place car. The lead was up to 12 seconds when rookie Juan Caceres spun to bring out another caution flag.
Everyone pitted and while Bourdais took a full load of fuel, both Justin Wilson and Allmendinger "short-filled" to get out in front the points leader. Bourdais came back on track in fifth place behind the two "short-fill drivers" and Bruno Junqueira and Nelson Philippe who stayed out.
Suddenly, Bourdais's race car wasn't working as well as earlier and he was stuck behind his two closest championship challengers - Wilson and Allmendinger. He was still behind them with 15 laps to go.
Justin Wilson - Photo Credit: Phillip Abbott, USA LAT Photographic
The two leaders plus Wilson made their final pit stops leaving the race lead to Allmendinger and Bourdais. But they too had to make a final stop so unless they could build a sufficient margin, they would still have to pass cars for the win.
Allmendinger made his pit stop on lap 41, but Bourdais stayed out. The American got out in front of Junqueira for fourth place.
When would Bourdais stop and where would he return to the track?
Bourdais held more than 31 seconds on Allmendinger and Junqueira after 43 laps. The Frenchman finally made his stop on lap 44 and returned to the track about 100 yards ahead of the competition.
Now he only needed to hold him off for seven laps.
But on cold tires Bourdais couldn't hold off Allmendinger. The American went flying by Bourdais. So did Junqueira.
Katherine Legge – “Warriors In Pink” livery. Photo Credit: Phillip Abbott, USA LAT Photographic
It should have been a great battle down the stretch between those three drivers, but with six laps to go, Katherine Legge slammed the wall at "The Kink" (the fastest corner on the track) sending her car into a million pieces and bringing out a full-course caution. After one lap, officials brought out the red flag halting the race with four laps to go.
She was "awake and alert" as they put her in the ambulance for the ride to the medical center and amazingly she was on her feet and waving to the crowd just a few minutes later.
The race finally resumed with two caution flag laps leaving just two laps for "racing" but there really wasn't much competition over the last eight miles. Allmendinger cruised to win unchallenged and kept his slight championship hopes alive.
Bourdais, Oriol Servia and Wilson completed the top-five.
Bourdais remains the championship leader with two races remaining in the season. He has a 58-point margin over Allmendinger and 67 over Wilson.