Team Player's shines at Grand Prix of Cleveland night race as Paul Tracy and Patrick Carpentier finish 2nd and 4th respectively Cleveland, Ohio, July 5, 2003 Paul Tracy of Team Player's posted his third straight podium finish and sixth in nine...
Team Player's shines at Grand Prix of Cleveland night race as Paul Tracy and Patrick Carpentier finish 2nd and 4th respectively
Cleveland, Ohio, July 5, 2003 Paul Tracy of Team Player's posted his third straight podium finish and sixth in nine Champ Car World Series races this season by taking second place at the Grand Prix of Cleveland on Saturday, a performance that enabled him to extend his lead in the drivers' championship. The race was the first night road-course event in the history of the series.
Tracy's teammate Patrick Carpentier, driving with a tender left wrist and a crumpled front wing for the last 45 laps of the 115-lap race, recorded a gritty fourth-place finish, an effort that maintained his fourth position in the standings and kept him in contention for the championship.
French rookie and pole-sitter Sebastien Bourdais, who yielded the lead to Tracy on the first turn of the opening lap, finally recaptured the lead on lap 69, inching ahead of Tracy as the two drivers came out of the pits. But Bourdais's third victory of the season was threatened because of a yellow flag with four laps remaining. The field was bunched up for the re-start, on the final lap, and with a good burst on the re-start Bourdais drove to a 2.24-second margin of victory.
Tracy, meanwhile, had a battle on his hands with Bruno Junqueira, his main rival in the championship hunt. Attacking immediately on the re-start, Junqueira squeezed past Tracy in the final half-lap, but Tracy promptly regained the position, getting around Junqueira when the Brazilian driver went wide.
"I tried to go after Sebastien on that last lap, but then I saw Bruno coming after me and I had to put all my efforts into protecting my side," said Tracy. "I'm happy we were able to hold on to second place because it increases our lead in the championship. When Sebastien had the short fill on his third pit stop, he managed to get out ahead and he was definitely faster in that third stint. It took me six or seven laps before I could get into the 59-second range."
Tracy, who leads the championship by eight points (117-109) over Junqueira, said he found it more difficult driving under the lights, but it was the fast and furious pace that was especially draining. "My hands were really starting to hurt in the last 15 laps from driving over all the bumps," he added.
Carpentier described the Grand Prix of Cleveland, which he won last year, as a "long, tough race." Team Player's set up the car in such a way that it would easier on Carpentier's left wrist, which he twisted in Saturday's qualifying when the steering wheel snapped back quickly.
"The car wasn't as quick as usual on the front straight, and then when the front winglet came off, it made it that much tougher to drive," said Carpentier. "It was difficult to hold off the drivers who were behind me, so coming away with fourth place is not bad at all."
The results in Cleveland enable Team Player's to head to Toronto next weekend for the first of three Canadian races on the Champ Car World Series schedule as the dominant team in the series, with the championship leader in Tracy and Carpentier among the top four in the standings.