Sebastien Bourdais was once considered among the best drivers in the world.
In case you forgot, refer to the breathtaking pass he made Sunday on the streets of Long Beach to move into second place that will make every highlight reel this season. OK, so IndyCar ruled the pass illegal and made Bourdais return the position to Scott Dixon. No biggie. The Frenchman simply passed Dixon again.
Need a favorite IndyCar driver to root for? Bourdais could be the one for you.
He made his case for fan support at Long Beach, where Bourdais was the star of the race despite his 13th-place finish.
Bourdais started ninth and twice drove his way to second before his race fell apart. That’s when the Bourdais full of fire and fury returned. His post-race assessment was brutal and Bourdais made clear he was irked with IndyCar, annoyed with rookie drivers and even angry at some veterans.
Cast him as a hero for his on-track skill and he will nail the part. If you make him mad, though, he plays a perfect villain, too. No matter the part, what Bourdais can do in a race car and the kind of competitor he is have made it clear that he’s still among the very elite at his craft.
Bourdais was untouchable during his first stint racing in the United States from 2003 to 2007, when he reeled off four consecutive Champ Car titles in five seasons. He won 31 of 73 races — scoring 44 podiums and 31 poles in that span —then landed the promotion of his life with a call to Formula One.
His dream job didn’t have a happy ending: Bourdais was out of F1 after just two seasons.
It took him another two years to return to the U.S., but the only jobs available were lousy IndyCar Series rides. Driving inferior equipment for small teams, Bourdais hardly resembled the guy who couldn’t be caught in those halcyon early days of his career.
Here’s the thing about race car drivers — most believe that with the right resources, they can fix a race team.
Bourdais can actually deliver.
After 39 frustrating races over three seasons, former champion Jimmy Vasser gave Bourdais a second shot in second-tier KV Racing. Bourdais needed 13 races to take the team to the winner’s circle. He won twice more in 2015, and once again the next season. Then KV shut down and Bourdais had to return to Dale Coyne Racing.
He had done enough to return to quality sports car rides for the endurance events, and he was part of Action Express’ winning teams at the Rolex 24 of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring and the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. He got a shot with Chip Ganassi Racing’s new GT Le Mans organization and won Daytona again, then got a class victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in his hometown.
Believing he could turn the Coyne IndyCar operation into a winner, Bourdais did so with a victory in the 2017 season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, the city Bourdais now calls home. He finished second a race later at Long Beach and it really did look like Bourdais was the difference maker.
Then he crashed during qualifying for last year’s Indianapolis 500. Bourdais broke his pelvis, his hip and doctors said he wouldn’t race again last season. He laughed and busied himself rehabilitating at such a pace that he was back in the car for the final three IndyCar races of the year.
The winter saw an opportunity for Bourdais to reunite with Vasser and James Sullivan from KV in a partnership with Coyne, and there was Bourdais in the season opener at St. Pete, defending his victory in a tearful pronouncement that the 39-year-old IndyCar driver is as sharp as he was 15 years ago in Champ Car.
Bourdais’ comeback tour this season included a pole-winning run on the oval at Phoenix, then his show-stopping maneuvers at Long Beach. On paper, Dale Coyne Racing is not supposed to challenge the Andretti, Ganassi and Penske teams for wins. With Bourdais behind the wheel, anything is possible.
More AP Auto Racing: https://racing.ap.org
Liverpool Tell Real Madrid £200m-rated Mohamed Salah Is Not For Sale And Will Review Egyptian’s £90,000-a-week Deal
LIVERPOOL are reportedly determined to stave off any interest from Real Madrid in £200million-rated Mohamed Salah.
Salah, 25, has taken football by storm in his debut season at Anfield after netting 43 times so far — including two in the 5-2 thumping of Roma on Tuesday.
REUTERS Liverpool have told Real Madrid Mohamed Salah is not for sale, according to reports
And the Daily Mail report that the club is now set to review the PFA player of the year’s current £90,000-a-week contract, that has four years left to run, and make him their main man.
The Reds are desperate to build their team around Salah for years to come but Real could come in for the Egyptian international.
Zinedine Zidane has been impressed by Salah, whose value has doubled from £100million since December as he continued his incredible run of form.
However, Liverpool chiefs are confident they can rebuff any offers from Real as they have a good working relationship with his agent Ramy Abbas.
Capela Scores 26 Rockets Eliminate Wolves With 122-104 Win
Clint Capela had 26 points and 15 rebounds, James Harden added 24 points and the Houston Rockets pulled away in the third quarter to get another lopsided win and eliminate the Minnesota Timberwolves with a 122-104 victory in Game 5 of the first-round series Wednesday night.
The top-seeded Rockets are headed to the second round for the second year in a row after taking care of the eighth-seeded Timberwolves. Minnesota was in the postseason for the first time since 2004.
Houston will await the winner of the Utah-Oklahoma City series, which the Jazz lead 3-2 after the Thunder rallied from a big deficit Wednesday night to avoid elimination.
After scoring 22 points in Houston’s 50-point third quarter in a Game 4 blowout Monday night, Harden poured in half of Houston’s 30 points in the third quarter on Wednesday night to put the Rockets up for good. His 15 third-quarter points matched Minnesota’s output in the frame and he finished with 12 assists.
Karl-Anthony Towns led the Timberwolves with 23 points and 14 rebounds, and Jamal Crawford added 20 points off the bench.
Andrew Wiggins scored the last four points of the third quarter to cut the lead to 85-74 entering the fourth quarter. The Rockets used a 7-2 spurt, highlighted by a 3 from Ryan Anderson, to start the fourth and make it 92-76 with 9 1/2 minutes left.
A basket by Derrick Rose got Minnesota within 14 later in the fourth when Houston went on a 10-4 run to push the lead to 108-88 with less than five minutes to go.
The Wolves got consecutive 3s by Jamal Crawford and Wiggins to cut the lead after that, but the Rockets scored the next five points to end that run and cruise to the victory.
The Rockets opened the second half with a 10-2 run to erase a halftime deficit and take a 65-61 lead with about nine minutes left in the third. Chris Paul, who finished with 12 points and nine assists, had four points in that stretch and Harden and P.J. Tucker added 3-pointers.
Minnesota scored the next five points to go back on top, but Harden scored five quick points after that to leave the Rockets ahead 70-66. Harden, who had just five points at halftime, hit a 3 before throwing down a one-handed dunk over Taj Gibson that prompted Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau to call a timeout.
The timeout didn’t do anything to slow Harden and the Rockets down, and he added another 3 on Houston’s first possession after the timeout.
Towns added a basket after that before Houston scored the next eight points to extend the lead to 81-68 with 2 1/2 minutes left in the quarter.
Things got a little testy after that when Crawford pushed Paul to the court and stood over him jawing. Paul got to his feet and got in his face, but the two were quickly separated and Crawford was given an offensive foul and a technical.
Timberwolves: Tyus Jones returned after sitting out in Game 4 with a sore knee. … Jimmy Butler had eight points and Wiggins finished with 14. … Jeff Teague scored 17 and had seven assists.
Rockets: Coach Mike D’Antoni said that Luc Mbah a Moute, who missed the entire first round after dislocating his right shoulder, is getting better and will be re-evaluated next week. … Eric Gordon scored 19 points. … Houston had just four turnovers.
The Rockets will host the first two games of the Western Conference semifinals against the winner of the Jazz-Thunder series.
Raptors Wizards Honor Victims Of Toronto Van Attack With Moment Of Silence
TORONTO — The Raptors honored the victims of Monday’s deadly van attack in Toronto with a moment of silence Wednesday night before their Game 5 win over the Washington Wizards.
Players from both teams held up banners with the hashtag (hash)TORONTOSTRONG as they stood on the court during the tribute and the national anthems that followed.
The Raptors, the Wizards and the NBA will make a donation to a fund for victims and those affected by the incident.
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Raptors president Masai Ujiri spoke about the attack after the Raptors practiced Tuesday.
“What we do doesn’t really matter sometimes,” Ujiri said before the Raptors’ 108-98 win. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to be on that sidewalk.”
Toronto guard Kyle Lowry said he was impressed by the actions of Const. Ken Lam, who earned international acclaim for the peaceful arresting of suspect Alek Minassian.
“In America, he would definitely have been shot up,” Lowry said. “He did an amazing job of making a judgment call. I think more people could learn from that.”
Raptors coach Dwane Casey was struck by how close the carnage occurred to his own Toronto neighborhood.
“It’s not too far from up the street from where I live,” Casey said.
Casey and his coaches were in the midst of a meeting Monday afternoon when assistant Rex Kalamian’s phone buzzed with someone informing him of the tragedy. The coaches stopped their meeting and turned on a television to find out what had happened.
“It’s very unfortunate,” Casey said. “Just this weekend, I was talking to people saying how safe Toronto is, how it’s a melting pot and you don’t have the same crime. Hopefully, though, sport can offer a relief, some reprieve.”
Like Casey, Ujiri said he is proud of Toronto’s reputation as a safe, welcoming place.
“Everywhere I go, I brag about this city,” Ujiri said. “It’s the safest place in the world. It’s the best city in the world, and it’s going to continue to be the best place and the best city in the world.”
Toronto police said the 10 people killed and 14 injured in the attack were “predominantly” women, but they have declined so far to discuss a motive. The 25-year-old Minassian has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder.
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