CHAMPCAR/CART: Bourdais beats Tracy in the Cleveland night

CHAMPCAR/CART: Bourdais beats Tracy in the Cleveland night

Sebastien Bourdais won an exciting Cleveland Grand Prix tonight under the lights at Burke Lakefront Airport. Bourdais had been running away with the race, holding a lead over Paul Tracy of over 12 seconds with 5 laps remaining, but a couple of ...

Sebastien Bourdais won an exciting Cleveland Grand Prix tonight under the lights at Burke Lakefront Airport. Bourdais had been running away with the race, holding a lead over Paul Tracy of over 12 seconds with 5 laps remaining, but a couple of incidents put the outcome in doubt.

The podium: race winner S?bastien Bourdais with Paul Tracy and Bruno Junqueira under the fireworks.
Photo by Michael Kim.
Bourdais was attempting to put twelfth-placed Adrian Fernandez a lap down, and dove inside of the Portland winner at turn 3. Fernandez turned in and hit the side of Bourdais' Newman/Haas Racing Lola, then went spinning into the grass. Bourdais continued, but his car was damaged and he had lost half of his advantage over Tracy.

Just after that incident, Jimmy Vasser spun out of tenth place in turn 1 and stalled, causing the race's fourth caution period. Vasser was quickly push started and the Champ Car field got the green flag and the white flag at the same time.

With body panels flapping on Bourdais' car from the contact with Fernandez, the restart was a good test for the French rookie. He was able to pull away, though, as Tracy and Bruno Junqueira battled for the runner-up spot. Junqueira got a good run on Tracy as they exited turn 1 and made a good inside pass going into the right-hand turn 3. Junqueira ran wide, though, on the exit of the turn and Tracy went back to second place with a daring outside pass in turn 4.

Bourdais had the pole for the race, and in fact had been the fastest driver in most of the timed sessions over the weekend. But Tracy took a wide, arcing line for the often-treacherous turn 1 at the green flag and got the early lead. Behind the two front-row starters, Junqueira used the opposite tactic, taking a very tight line in turn one to get third place ahead of Patrick Carpentier and Oriol Servia.

The entire Champ Car field made it through turn 1 without incident, a rare occurrence in recent races at the Cleveland airport. But before the lap was over, Michel Jourdain, Jr. spun at the exit of turn 4, and continued at the rear of the field.

On lap 15, Jimmy Vasser made an optimistic passing attempt on Roberto Moreno in turn 1. The two made contact and Moreno went spinning into the grass. The caution flag waved for the first time of the day and all the drivers came into the pits for their first stops. Moreno's car was restarted, but his car was too damaged to continue.

After a short stretch of green flag racing, another caution period was called when the Dale Coyne Racing Lola of Gualter Salles stalled on the back side of the course. Once the field got the green again, Tracy and Bourdais continued at the front, with their teammates, Junqueira and Carpentier battling for the third spot.

Behind the first four, a great battle was getting started that would last for most of the race among Servia, Mario Dominguez, a resurgent Jourdain, Vasser and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Pitstop for Jimmy Vasser.
Photo by Michael Kim.
Through the second round of pit stops on lap 42, things remained constant down through the field, until Rodolfo Lavin spun at the exit of turn 7. Lavin was lucky to miss crashing into the turn 8 tire wall and also lucky not to be collected by the cars that were lapping him at the time, but he stalled the engine and required a bump start. Vasser made his third pit stop under the yellow flags, the only driver to take the chance to go off sequence.

When the rest of the field made their third visit to the pits on lap 68, Vasser took the lead. Behind him though, the two previous frontrunners traded positions as Bourdais' team used a short fuel fill to get their man out ahead of Tracy. Vasser led the race for 15 laps until he needed to make another stop and Bourdais got the lead that he would keep to the end.

The fourth place battle continued to the last round of pit stops and was finally resolved with Carpentier keeping fourth place and Dominguez, Servia and Jourdain following behind him in that order. Alexandre Tagliani, Hunter-Reay, and Darren Manning completed the cars on the lead lap, with Fernandez and Max Papis also getting points a lap off the lead. Vasser fell to two laps down with his late spin, earning no points for finishing 13th.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Gualter Salles , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Max Papis , Adrian Fernandez , Roberto Moreno , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Mario Dominguez , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Sébastien Bourdais , Rodolfo Lavin , Dale Coyne , Michel Jourdain , Michael Kim
Teams Dale Coyne Racing