Servia loses shot at win on pit stop
HOUSTON -- Two-thirds of the way through the Champ Car Grand Prix of Houston, Oriol Servia looked as though he was in position to threaten Sebastien Bourdais for the win. He trailed the three-time series champion by less than two seconds heading into the final round of green-flag pit stops, but that final pit visit proved to be the Spaniard's undoing.
• Oreovicz: Same Newman/Haas
• Notebook: Mishap costs Servia
Forsythe Championship Racing concluded Servia's pit service just as the team's second driver, Mario Dominguez, was arriving in the pit area. The team had to hold Servia for a few seconds to avoid a collision, and he lost positions to Graham Rahal and Robert Doornbos in the process.
The delay added up to a fourth-place finish for Champ Car's latest super sub, who is only in the Forsythe car until Paul Tracy returns from the fractured vertebra he suffered in a Long Beach practice crash.
"It's a great result and some good points, but I'm a little disappointed because we really had a shot at a podium for sure and maybe enough for Sebastien," Servia said. "When we came into the pits, when it was time to go out, Mario was coming in. I don't think they saw it coming. They probably thought I'd be out before Mario came in.
"It's just one of those deals. In hindsight, maybe if they had called me in or Mario in a lap earlier, it would have been better. It cost me six seconds."
Servia qualified fifth for his second race with the team and was able to run with leader Bourdais in the middle portion of the race. Even if he lands a ride with Forsythe for the rest of the year, he thinks the team still has some catching up to do.
"I did the best job I could, but we still need to be a little bit better to catch Sebastien," he said. "He has three rings for a reason! But I think we'll have something for him if we keep working on it."
Gerald Forsythe said Sunday morning that he is talking to Mexicans Dominguez (who finished sixth at Houston) and David Martinez about a ride for the rest of the season. He'd be crazy not to include Servia on that short list.
"I'm flying home to Miami tonight, and I'm going to stay by the phone," Servia said with a smile.
-- John Oreovicz
End of the Power play
Will Power inherited pole position for the Grand Prix of Houston when Bourdais was penalized for blocking. But the Team Australia driver didn't see much of the lead in the race.
Power led only one lap -- for the aborted first start and ensuing lap under a yellow flag -- and never seemed to recover after dropping to third place on the initial green-flag lap of racing. Team Australia boss Derrick Walker accused Bourdais of brake testing Power, but the driver was more diplomatic.
"On the first lap, I knew what Sebastien was going to do," Power said. "He went straight through the chicane and held me up in Turn 4, so Justin Wilson got me."
Power lost additional positions during the first pit stop, but soon he was racing Wilson again. A little too closely, as it turns out.
"Wilson was quite a bit slower than us, but I went for a move that wasn't on and that was my fault and it went downhill from there," Power admitted.
A couple of spins and two broken front wings added up to an 11th-place finish for the Las Vegas winner -- and a three-point championship deficit to Bourdais.
"The guys did a great job, and I wish I could have brought them home a better result," Power said. "Now we go back, regroup and keep putting it together."
Power's teammate Simon Pagenaud dropped to the back of the field with an early puncture, but the 2006 Atlantic Series champion rebounded to collect his first top-5 finish in Champ Car.
"I just drove as hard as I could and saved fuel during the race," the Frenchman said. "I just want to thank my Team Australia crew because finally the monkey is off my back now. It's great to have a good finish in the top six; this was my goal in the beginning of the season."
Matos extends Atlantic Series lead
Raphael Matos cruised to victory from the pole Sunday in the Fast Trac 100 at Reliant Park on Sunday, winning the Champ Car Atlantic Series race from the pole.
The Brazilian never trailed, keeping American rookie Carl Skerlong adrift by nearly a second at the finish after Skerlong had closed to just over a half-second behind on the next-to-last lap. James Hinchcliffe rounded out the podium, 8.178 seconds behind the leader.
"I was able to keep the first position this time," Matos said. "I didn't get a great start. I don't know, last year my starts were really good; this year I am struggling a little bit, but I was able to manage to keep the first position."
Matos maintained his lead in the developmental series, with the ultimate reward for the season champion being $2 million to take to the Champ Car World Series next season. Matos has scored 98 points, winning all three races this season. Jonathan Bomarito, who finished fourth Sunday, is second with 75 points. Hinchcliffe is third with 66.
-- K. Lee Davis
Rough road, good road
Count Doornbos as a fan of the Grand Prix of Houston after he finished third. The racecourse itself on the grounds (actually parking lots) of Reliant Park? Not as much, but the rookie is learning.
"I have to thank my physical trainer because the bumps were quite intense for this hour-and-three-quarters race," he said. "I had no problems, so I am happy.
He should be happy. Doornbos managed to make the most of it, jumping five drivers in the first five laps with a series of aggressive and impressive moves.
"The race was amazing, I made a really big jump at the start," the Team Minardi USA driver from Holland said. "I like the rolling start. I went to the inside on the first turn . It was quite exciting.
"I was running a good pace; I was very happy with the car. It was a very good car in comparison to the last two races."
John Oreovicz covers open-wheel racing for National Speed Sport News and ESPN.com; K. Lee Davis is the motorsports editor for ESPN.com
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