CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: Lola race report

Tough race for Lola down under; consolation is title for Paul Tracy. After 13 competitive seasons, Paul Tracy clinched his first Champ Car title today at Surfers Paradise in a wild and crazy Lexmark Indy 300, race ...

Tough race for Lola down under; consolation is title for Paul Tracy.

After 13 competitive seasons, Paul Tracy clinched his first Champ Car title today at Surfers Paradise in a wild and crazy Lexmark Indy 300, race #18 in a 19-event campaign. Despite finishing 13th in a race determined by weather and contact much like last year's Australian round Canadian Tracy, driving the #3 Team PF Racing Lola/Ford-Cosworth/Bridgestone racer earned CART's Vanderbilt Cup when his closest pursuer Bruno Junqueira crashed out of the contact-filled event in the #1 PacifiCare Lola.

Entering the final race at California Speedway next weekend, Tracy owns 226 points, while Junqueira has a 27-point deficit. A maximum of 22 points are available to next weekend's winner. "I'm caught up in my feelings right now," the emotionally drained Tracy said. "I have to thank the team. I never had such a great race car and never felt so confident as I did today," he remarked as he hoisted the Vanderbilt Cup. "Momentum swings so quickly in these races. I saw Bruno crash and cried in my helmet," Tracy admitted.

It was one of Tracy's requests that Team PF Racing change their choice of chassis when he joined the squad this season and it paid off tremendously with seven victories and six pole positions. "This is such a great team," Tracy continued. "I have to thank them for this title."

While no Lola cars made the podium on this strange day where rain and hail caused the race to be red-flagged and shortened from 65 to 47 laps, Michel Jourdain notched fourth place in a competitive drive for the #9 Gigante Lola and locked up third place in the championship. Patrick Carpentier drove a stellar race to finish fifth in the #32 Team PF Racing Lola and Gualter Salles, driving Dale Coyne's #19 Alpina Lola took sixth. 2002 Australia winner, Mario Dominguez ran up and down the 19-car grid and recovered from losing a wheel to take seventh in the #55 Herdez Lola. Alex Tagliani, too, had a roller coaster ride and contact with the result of eighth place in his #33 Johnson Controls Lola.

The Champ Cars return to the United States and their grand finale to the 19-race 2003season with the Champ Car 500 presented by King Taco at the 2-mile California Speedway oval in Fontana. Speed TV will televise that 500-mile contest live.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Mario Dominguez , Dale Coyne