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Sebastien Bourdais
CHAMPION 2004, 2005, 2006 & 2007 | Drove for NHR from 2003 to 2007 | 73 Starts

Sebastien Bourdais earned a series high seven wins and eight pole positions in 14 events in 2004 as well as led almost twice as many laps as the driver ranked second in that category to earn the team its fifth title in only his second season in the series. With his eighth pole position, he became the first driver since Michael Andretti (1991, also with NHR) to earn eight poles in one season. He was only one win short of matching Andretti (NHR, 1991) and Al Unser Jr’s (1994) eight wins earned in their championship seasons. He set the fastest race lap six times and was the first driver ever to have made top-three starts in every race during the season (14) as well as the first driver to have started in the top-three 15 consecutive times, dating back to the 2003 season-finale. He and teammate Bruno Junqueira fought for the title until the final lap of the season-finale in Mexico City after Bourdais overcame a late-race, off-track excursion which erased his 17-second lead before he ultimately won the event and clinched his first series title and capped the first 1-2 season-ending standing for the team. In addition to the Vanderbilt Cup, a total of $1,693,500 and a Ford Mustang, he won the Bridgestone Passion For Excellence Award for the second consecutive season. The award adds every driver’s fastest laps from every race together, with the award going to the driver that has the lowest aggregate time over the season. Bourdais’s combined time was more than five seconds faster than his next-quickest competitor. The fans rewarded him with numerous accolades as well. He earned the fan vote for SPEED TV’s Driver of the Year (DOY) for the third quarter and final vote. For the second quarter (CCWS season had just begun) he was fifth in the media voting, and second in the third and fourth quarter. He was selected as TSN Magazine’s “Champion of Champions” in voting conducted on the TSN website, official website of the Canadian sports cable network after he received 51 percent of the votes to outdistance Formula 1’s Schumacher (32 percent of vote) as well as champions from rally, NASCAR, IRL and others. He was voted Racer Magazine’s “Road Racer of the Year,”’s “North American Open-Wheel Driver of the Year” and earned First Team honors from the AARWBA. He earned his second consecutive title in 2005 and the first back-to-back for the team as well as capped their second 1-2 finish in team history. Despite a difficult battle due to parity in the series, he led the series with six wins, five poles and seven podium finishes in 13 events, set the fastest race lap seven times and clinched the title in the penultimate event in Australia. He took the points lead with a victory in the season-opener in Long Beach and held it after all but two events -- once to teammate Junqueira before his season-ending injury and once to Paul Tracy. He led 37 laps en route to victory in the Long Beach season-opener but contact with Paul Tracy in two events (Monterrey, Toronto) and various other complications delayed his next win until Round 7 in Edmonton where his title chase began in earnest and he won five out of the next six events (Edmonton, San Jose, Denver, Las Vegas, Australia). His sixth and final win of the season came in Australia where he clinched the title with one race left in the championship. He completed all but 10 of the 1,310 laps during the season to earn 348 points over his teammate Junqueira’s replacement, second place Oriol Servia’s 288. He also brought France a win in the Nations Cup for the first time in the 10 year history of the award. In addition to the Vanderbilt Cup and a check totaling $1,188,500 for the season, Ford presented him with the opportunity to race with his father, Patrick, in the Grand Am Cup event in Daytona in Jan. 2006. He won the Bridgestone Passion For Excellence Award for the third consecutive season and was nominated for SPEED TV’s Driver of the Year” for three of the four quarters and the overall award. He earned First Team honors from the AARWBA for the second consecutive year and his third to be recognized by the prestigious group. He was invited to run in the International Race of Champions (IROC) again for 2006 but a schedule conflict prevented his participation. By season’s end he had earned a 36 percent win average and a 40 percent average of starting on pole in his 45 career events to date. He became the first open wheel driver to win three consecutive championships in 2006 since Ted Horn accomplished the feat from 1946-1948 and only the second in the 98 year history of the sport. Both Horn and Bourdais clinched their titles in the penultimate event but Horn was unable to attempt four after he died in a crash in the season finale. Bourdais earned a series high seven wins, seven poles and finished on the podium 11 times in 14 races. He won the first four races but was unable to set a series record five consecutive wins in Portland after a botched start dropped him back in the field and he couldn’t recover. After coming back to win from being a lap down, Milwaukee was the highlight of the season as well as the first pole for the team at their “home event” in 21 years (1985) and their first win there in 10 years. Cleveland provided the scariest moment when he started third but was hit on Lap 1 when Paul Tracy tried to drive between Bourdais and Junqueira which caused Tracy to launch over Bourdais and roll over his helmet. He was admitted and subsequently released from a local hospital before the race ended. Podiums in Toronto and Edmonton preceded his next win in San Jose from pole but his narrow lead over second place took a blow in Denver when he passed the ailing car of Tracy for second place on the final lap but Tracy slid into him in the final corner and neither finished the event. He won again in Montreal while his main competition, Allmendinger (mechanical) nor Wilson (crash) finished. An outside chance at clinching the title in Road America was derailed despite having a dominant car all weekend. Although he built 12+ and 15+ second leads, strategy came into play and limited him to a third place finish. A collision with local favorite Will Power led to an eighth place finish in Australia but earned him his history making third title with one race to go. He returned to Winners Circle in the Mexico City finale to end the season on a high note with a thrilling last lap pass for the win. He was named an AARWBA “First Team All American” for the third consecutive year; was one of six drivers nominated for Speed TV’s “Performer of the Year,” earned the Second Quarter “Driver of the Year”; was one of 9 nominated for National Speed Sport News’ “Economaki Champion of Champions Award”; was named “Road Racer of the Year” by Racer Magazine; and ranked No. 1 in SPEED Driver Rankings for the year (compiled by STATS, Inc.) after having reached the top spot five different times during the season. NASCAR champion Johnson was second. He was also honored by the City of St. Petersburg, Florida as a “Hometown Hero.”

In 2007, after matching an all-time series record for eight wins during the season, Bourdais became the first Champ or IndyCar driver to win four consecutive championships in the 99 year history of the sport. Four in a row is very rare in professional sports. It has never been accomplished in the NFL nor has it been accomplished in the past 20 years in the NBA, NHL or MLB. His third of eight wins during the season brought the team its 100th victory in Portland in their 25th year of competition. His eight wins put him in a three way tie with Michael Andretti (1991 with NHR) and Al Unser Jr. (1994) for the most in a single season in CART / Champ Car history. He led the series in wins (eight), poles (six), laps led (463) and fastest race laps (eight) to bring his career total to an impressive high. Over his five year Champ Car career he went from Rookie of the Year to four-time champion and amassed 31 wins and 31 poles (42.4 percent each) and led a total of 2,103 laps out of a possible 6,905. In 73 events he set the fastest lap of the race 34 times. His dominating win in his Champ Car finale in Mexico City put him in a tie with Paul Tracy and Unser Jr. for sixth on the all-time career win list with 31. While his 31 poles also put him sixth on the all time career pole position list behind such luminaries as Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Bobby Unser, Rick Mears and Michael Andretti.

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