Toronto, Ont. (July 13, 2003) - For Paul Tracy, the Molson Indy Toronto could not have been easier or better. For Alex Tagliani, it could not have been much worse, and for Patrick Carpentier it was somewhere in between. The start: Paul...
Toronto, Ont. (July 13, 2003) - For Paul Tracy, the Molson Indy Toronto could not have been easier or better. For Alex Tagliani, it could not have been much worse, and for Patrick Carpentier it was somewhere in between.
"This was the most important race for me," said Tracy. "To win in Canada with a Canadian team - this is the defining moment of my career."
While most drivers did their fastest lap of the race somewhere near lap 95, Tracy did his as early as lap 11, showing that from then on he was merely coasting. However, he did not exactly admit this. "My team never asked me to slow down," he said.
The only trouble Tracy seemed to have was with the pace car, which wasn't moving quite fast enough for him during one full-course yellow period, eroding his massive lead. Tracy gestured at the pace car, urging it forward. "I think that was a bit of a 'NASCAR' yellow," he laughed.
For Alex Tagliani it also looked very good early on. Tag had jumped from 4th on the grid to sit nicely behind Tracy after lap 1. He held that 2nd position, though he was not able to challenge Tracy, until lap 28, when it all went wrong.
He slid wide at the notorious turn 3, but managed to hang on and get his car around the corner. However, his right rear wheel was hit by Bruno Junqueira, who came around corner 3 at full speed. Tagliani's suspension was bent, and he retired right after a fruitless pitstop.
Patrick Carpentier's race was benign. After qualifying 5th, he maintained that position on lap 1 and remained there (moving up to 4th after Tagliani retired) until the second round of pit-stops. Just before those pit-stops, he had some small contact with Oriol Servia at corner 3 and was unhappy with his car.
"I'm so loose it's unbelievable," he said over his car-to-pit radio.
Although the Canadian fans would have loved a 1-2-3 finish for the Canadian drivers, they were overjoyed with the Tracy victory. As Tracy put it, "It's a great day for Canada."
Tracy's and Carpentier's results helped Canada increase its lead in the Nation's Cup standings. With 172 points, they lead by 13 over Mexico, increasing it from the 7 point lead they had coming into the race.
The next round of the Champ Car World Series also takes place in Canada, at Concord Pacific Place in Vancouver on July 27th. Last year, Tracy was similarly quick there, dropping to and finishing second due to a pit-stop strategy gamble.