Sebastien Bourdais set for return this weekend at Gateway

MADISON, Ill. (AP) Sebastien Bourdais was a little surprised when he got the call asking if he wanted to race this weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park.

''Yeah, that was kind of late (asking if) we could do that,'' Bourdais said Friday about the Wednesday night phone call. ''But no, it's just really good to come back, and really looking forward to it.''

The fact that the 38-year-old IndyCar driver is back at all this season is a bit of a surprise after he fractured his pelvis and right hip May 20 in an accident in qualifying for the Indianapolis 500.

The Frenchman's rapid recovery gives him his seat back for the final three races of the season, starting Saturday night at Gateway. He had actually been cleared to race earlier this month, but Dale Coyne Racing allowed replacement driver Esteban Gutierrez to drive last weekend at Pocono Raceway.

''That's really the whole thing for me, to get back in the saddle, obviously, prove to everybody that nothing has changed, that I'm still the same guy, plus a little bit of hardware, but that's another thing,'' Bourdais said. ''And at the end of the day, just get back in the groove and, yeah, just go racing.''

Bourdais qualified 19th Friday night. As for what will happen in the race, Bourdais didn't have any answers. He tested his car at Mid-Ohio at the end of July, but hadn't been on the track competitively until Friday.

''Now it's kind of hit the reset button and kind of go off of what we know from Phoenix because that's the closest (Gateway is) obviously you're going to get to - with the grip, the pavement quality, the fact that there are no bumps and everything and the setup of the track. Pretty excited to come back and try the new surface.''

The four-time series champion won the season-opening race this year at St. Petersburg, Florida.

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More AP auto racing: http://racing.ap.org

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