Bourdais looks to increase Champ Car points lead in Las Vegas

Sebastien Bourdais is not a stranger to pressure.

The 2003 Champ Car World Series Rookie-of-the-Year, comes to Las Vegas with the championship title in his sights, but not by much. Only 24 points separates him from second place Bruno Junqueira, and a win at the Bridgestone 400 presented by Corona would be a boost to his hopes of winning his first Vanderbilt Cup.

Bourdais entered his second year in the Champ Car World Series with high expectations. Coming off a rookie season in which he picked up three wins and five poles for Newman/Haas Racing and a fourth place finish in the championship standing, Bourdais¿ second season has not produced a sophomore slump.

"This year we had a pretty good start in Long Beach after a rookie season that was definitely very good," Bourdais said. "We knew we had a team this year that could be a strong contender for the championship."

Posting back-to-back-to-back wins at Portland, Cleveland and Toronto have helped the McDonald¿s Newman/Haas team become a contender. Add to that victories at Monterrey and Denver, and Bourdais comes to Las Vegas with a points lead he hopes to increase.

"He just needs to keep doing what he¿s doing," Pedro Campuzano, Bourdais¿ chief mechanic said. "He¿s done a fabulous job so far. If he keeps doing his job we¿ll be alright."

Consistency is the key, according to Bourdais, to winning the points race. And it¿s that consistency that has helped the Le Mans, France, native be successful in racing.

He began his racing career in karting, before moving on to the French Formula Renault Series. In 1999 he won the French Formula 3 Championship after winning eight races and competed in his first 24 Hours of Le Mans event. He has competed in a total of three Le Mans events including his highest finish of fourth in 2000. Bourdais came to Champ Car racing after winning the 2002 FIA International F3000 Championship with three wins and seven poles.

The 25-year-old claimed the pole in his first ever Champ Car race at St. Petersburg, Fla., and followed that up by taking the pole in his second race. The first win of his career came at Lausitz, Germany, a track that by many standards is considered a superspeedway. Many Champ Car drivers compare the German track to Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

"The Vegas facilities are pretty neat," Bourdais said. "The lights are great and the set up of the oval is great. I think it¿s going to allow for us to race three lines. I won my first race on a superspeedway, but every track is different. I¿m looking forward to racing here."