INDIANAPOLIS — Sebastien Bourdais was surprisingly pushed aside in 2020. He felt like he’d be back in his No. 18 Honda with Vasser Sullivan/Dale Coyne Racing. He unfortunately wasn’t. That led him to sports cars and some select opportunities with AJ Foyt Racing. Then, COVID hit.
Bourdais’ INDYCAR opportunities were few and far between. Then, the team elected to bring him in late in the season to help not only push the No. 14 Chevrolet solidly into the Leaders Circle money, but to also get this team started for more success in 2021.
“Well, I mean, it’s really big,” Bourdais said of his three starts at the end of last year. “Obviously you don’t know that you’re going to get a second chance when you get the boot. It’s really good that things worked out and we can try to just bring the name A.J. Foyt Racing back to the front. That’s what we all are working towards.
“On a personal level, for sure it’s a big satisfaction. To be entrusted to be the guy who is going to kind of spearhead the effort. Yeah, just really thankful and grateful to Larry and everybody involved for trusting me with that project.”
Bourdais was pleased with how strong they were in the finale at St. Pete and how much progress they’ve even made in testing this offseason.
“We seem to be in the mix,” he said.
Now, Bourdais expects more of this for 2021 and the more they continue to grow, the more confidence that they get as the days get closer to the season opener.
“I think there is a very good atmosphere,” Bourdais continued. “Everybody is enjoying that perspective. The fact that there is seemingly something to go to the track and fight for, it doesn’t take much to get a positive dynamic. It doesn’t take much to break it down either.
“Hopefully we can just keep that dynamic and get the results to back it up because obviously it doesn’t matter how promising the thing is. If you get to the races and you don’t perform, the enthusiasm inevitably goes down. I’m just happy to see everybody kind of, like, pulling together, putting a lot of hours.
“The guys were at the shaker yesterday, they’re at the shaker again today. We’re going to the simulator. There’s really a lot of ground covered. That’s refreshing both because we have enough people to do it, we have enough resources to go and get after it, thanks to Chevy trusting us to go to the simulator and stuff like that.
“Honestly, everywhere I’ve been before ever since I’ve come back to the U.S. in ’12, there was something missing. It seemed like it was always a bit of a struggle. There were some really good guys with Craig and Olivier, but there wasn’t enough of them, we were short on money, something was happening. It just feels like the team is right enough right now to be able to have something well-rounded.
“I really enjoy that. Hopefully it works out.”
Bourdais said that getting that extra million dollars to be in the leaders circle certainly didn’t hurt and that it’s a pretty significant number difference going one way or the other. But, he also couldn’t control the circumstances either with only racing three times in the series a year ago too.
“You can’t always control what’s going on, so we just try to prepare the season the best we could, the 2021, that was really the goal, kick-start 2021 in 2020,” said the Frenchman. “It just so happens that everything works out. We both got to the leader’s circle. A good result at the end. Then kind of teeing things off the best possible way for this season.
“Obviously a lot of very positive things. Yeah, I mean, I really tried not to think too much about it because it was pretty stressful.”
Bourdais says that they’re hoping for a top 10 result in the final standings, but knows that the entry list is strong and that won’t be an easy task. He hopes that they can do that but also show some glimpses of success too.
“If we could win a race, it would be awesome. If we could get a couple podiums. But there’s no guarantee. All we can do, like I said, it’s just give it our best shot and see where we land.”