Champ Car Series

Bourdais set to defend his Houston title

Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Will Power leads the Champ Car Series championship after two events. It might be the last time that anyone other than Sebastien Bourdais leads the championship as the Frenchman got back on track last week in Long Beach.

After stumbling in the season opening event in Las Vegas, Bourdais rebounded to his "normal" level of dominance last week on the streets of Long Beach.

Driving the No.1 Newman/Haas/Lanigan machine, Bourdais won the pole on Saturday and led 58 of 78 laps en route to a relatively easy victory. The only laps he didn't lead were just after pit stops when drivers on different fuel strategies temporarily held the top spot.

This was in direct contrast to the Las Vegas race when Bourdais was never higher than sixth in qualifying and no higher than fourth in the race. He finished 13th after making contact with the wall midway through the event.

This week in Houston, Bourdais will be the defending champion having beaten Paul Tracy in last year's race by 1.238 seconds. Tracy, the series' active wins leader who missed last week's race after a practice crash, will be absent this week as well. Tracy's crash on Saturday morning left him with a compression fracture to his first lumbar vertebrae.

Oriol Servia will once again substitute for Tracy. He was quite successful in his debut finishing second behind Bourdais.

"I am very glad that I was given the opportunity," said Servia. "And I knew that the car was going to be good and the team was going to do a good job. I knew that if I wasn't too rusty, I could do a good job. So I took the opportunity and made the best of it."

Power finished third in Long Beach and added to his surprise win in Las Vegas help him extend his lead to 15 points over veteran Alex Tagliani who finished fifth on Sunday.

"It was a good result in the end, we earned a good haul of points and another podium," said Power. "We can now look forward to the next race in Houston next weekend with the championship lead."

Whether he can keep the lead for the following event in China on May 20th may depend on which Bourdais shows up - the three-time defending champion or the mid-pack driver of Las Vegas.

I expect the champion Frenchman to put together another great race and take back his customary position on top of the standings.

04/20 15:15:39 ET