May 30, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT
On paper, neither Sebastien Bourdais nor the No. 11 Mistic KVSH Racing Chevrolet team has had much to show for last year’s Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit Presented by Quicken Loans.
But I have a sneaking suspicion this year that things are going to change.
You can’t keep the “bespectacled badass” down for long, and given his pace and comfort level now five races into his tenure with his new team, KVSH Racing, the overall performance level is starting to change.
It was a rough three races to open the season with more penalties incurred than top-10 finishes, but a promising month of May has shifted the momentum. Bourdais ended fourth in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and a quiet, but solid, seventh in the Indianapolis 500 for his best run yet in the Verizon IndyCar Series’ most prestigious race.
“It was a quiet day, but a bit expected,” Bourdais told MotorSportsTalk on Thursday. “We didn’t feel we had the greatest car and from midpack it would always be a challenge. But we made steady progress. We did what we had to do, getting a top-10 with double points was very important to keep the momentum out of the Grand Prix. It was nothing exceptional but it was relieving to finally get the green flag in a decent spot.”
Bourdais has settled into the overall KV Racing Technology organization, and he looks to carry the success he achieved at the last four doubleheader races into this one this weekend.
He finished on the podium twice in Toronto (second and third) and with eighth and fifth at Houston, joined Scott Dixon as the only two drivers to score four top-10s in the last four doubleheader races.
Yes, this marks Bourdais’ first Detroit start with KVSH, but few expected him to deliver such a dynamic performance at Toronto as he did with Dragon Racing. That was in his first race with a new engineer (Tom Brown), and he’s now had the Olivier Boisson-led crew to work with for five races.
“I think it connected very quickly; we have a baseline setup, but with this car, every time, you unload you never know where you’ll be,” Bourdais explained. “The field is so compressed that you could be nowhere, so you have to be on your best days all the time.”
Bourdais said the team would likely start from a more generic setup this weekend and work from that. But I wouldn’t put it past ‘ol Seabass to pull off his and the team’s first podium finish of 2014 this weekend.