Detroit — Victories in the Verizon IndyCar series have been hard to come by for Sebastien Bourdais.
That's why winning Race No. 2 in the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit on Sunday afternoon on Belle Isle was so special for him.
Bourdais, 36, won a three-lap shootout over Takuma Sato, Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya and Graham Rahal to earn his first win since last July and just second since winning 15 in two years (2006-07) for Newman/Haas Racing in Champ Cars.
"It's just a heck of a feeling," Bourdais said. "We couldn't have gotten it more wrong yesterday and today we did everything right, the strategy and pit stops and we couldn't be happier."
Bourdais, who finished 14th in Race No. 1 on Saturday in the No. 11 Team Mistic E-Cigs KVSH Racing Chevrolet, pitted on lap 38 with race leader Montoya to toss aside rain tires to get slicks. The move paid off. Still, Bourdais needed all four cautions in the final 10 laps to save fuel. He ran out of fuel on the cool-down lap.
"It was a tricky race with the conditions, only one dry line," said Bourdais, who collected his 33rd career win overall. "I felt pretty racey in the beginning, picked up a couple of spots early. I came out of the pits first, out ahead of whoever we were racing and then we had all the cautions in succession. I felt pretty good on the restarts and didn't leave the door open."
It was the sixth win by Chevrolet drivers in the series' eight races.
Sato finished second, followed by Graham Rahal, Tristan Vautier and Marco Andretti. All four drivers competed in Honda.
"I had a chance on the re-start, but he had a really fast car today," said Sato, who was a former Formula One rival of Bourdais. "I had one chance on the back straightaway, but going into Turn 7 it's tricky. I'd commit to go side-by-side if it's dry, but it was too risky.
"It feels good to get on the podium. For drivers, it's tough with the conditions changing so much."
Bourdais was aided by several cautions late.
After consecutive cautions within a four-lap period due to one accident which had rookie Sage Karam hitting the back end of Jack Hawksworth on lap 56, then Charlie Kimball running his Ganassi teammate Scott Dixon into the tire barrier on lap 58 to set up a showdown between Bourdais, Montoya, Sato, Rahal and Will Power.
Still, two more cautions came out, including one with six laps left involving Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Power. Vautier clipped Power, sending Power's No. 1 Verizon Chevrolet into Castroneves' No. 3 Hitachi machine.
The accident involving the Team Penske cars red-flagged the race, sending it into a 51/2-minute timed race instead of the conclusion of the scheduled 70 laps. Bourdais took the final green flag with 31/2 minutes left.
Montoya started from the pole when qualifying was wiped off due to standing water on the track. The series decided the starting lineup would be made up by driver points with Power, Montoya's Team Penske teammate, starting second.
The rain stopped prior to the start, but the drivers were using rain tires with the track still wet with cold conditions — air temperature at 52 degrees.
By lap 15, the rain and wind picked up, forcing the drivers to keep the rain tires on during their first round of pit stops several laps later.
Montoya's lead over Power widened to five seconds when Power had problems shifting on lap 26. Power had to pit to get a new steering wheel, costing him valuable time.
Montoya built a nine-second lead over Dixon before rookie Rodolfo Gonzalez sent out the first caution on lap 36 or just after the midway point, crashing into the tire barrier.
Montoya continued to look strong when he pitted for slicks on lap 38, giving up the lead to rookie Conor Daly, who finished sixth.
Montoya looked to be conserving fuel which resulted in his falling back during the final laps.
Carlos Munoz, who earned his first career win in Race No. 1 on Saturday with a strategic move to keep driving with slick tires, had a short day.
Munoz, who started 11th in his No. 26 Honda for Andretti Autosport, experienced water pressure problems on lap five, ending his day.