CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto: Race report

Cart Champ Car World Series points leader Paul Tracy thrills Toronto crowd Of 73,255 with dominating victory in Sunday's Molson Indy Toronto TORONTO (July 13, 2003) -- With the rains that plagued the first two days of the Molson Indy Toronto ...

Cart Champ Car World Series points leader Paul Tracy thrills Toronto crowd Of 73,255 with dominating victory in Sunday's Molson Indy Toronto

TORONTO (July 13, 2003) -- With the rains that plagued the first two days of the Molson Indy Toronto finally yielding to a blue sky on race day, it was only fitting that the blue colors of Player's/Forsythe racing were carried to the top of the podium during today's 10th round of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

Paul Tracy (#3 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) carried those blue colors to the top step of the podium Sunday, sending a race-day crowd of 73,255 into a frenzy as the driver they call the Thrill From West Hill led all 112 laps en route to taking his second Toronto victory. Tracy's dominance on Sunday was never in question as he roared away at the drop of the green flag. He built an 11-second advantage after just 21 laps and would stretch the lead to more than 35 seconds at one point before a late caution flag forced him to settle for a 4.533-second margin of victory.

The win was the first for a Player's-sponsored CART Champ Car, and comes on a weekend when the long-time open-wheel backer announced that it would be forced to leave racing due to impending tobacco legislation. Tracy is the only Canadian driver to ever win a Champ Car race in his home country and allows him to widen his series lead to 15 points over Bruno Junqueira (#1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Newman/Haas Racing.

"This means maybe 10 times more than my first win here in 1993," said Tracy. "I've been breaking my back ever since then to get back to Victory Lane here and today it paid off. I had a great car and guys in lapped cars did a great job getting out of the way and not holding people up. It was a great crowd and I am thrilled to be able to give them a win. I expect to see a lot of street parties tonight."

Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) benefited from a late slip in the pits from Junqueira to snare the runner-up spot, taking his fifth podium finish of the 2003 season. Jourdain ran in the top four for much of the day and would move into the second spot after the last round of pit stops. He had one final shot at Tracy with 24 laps to go after a caution period erased a 35-second lead, but the points leader was equal to the task on the Lap 88 restart and pulled away from Jourdain and Junqueira.

The two would battle nose-to-tail behind Tracy for the second spot with Jourdain managing to hold off the Brazilian over the final laps to earn his first podium finish since his Milwaukee victory. Junqueira would settle for the third spot and was able to maintain his second-place standing in the championship chase.

Tracy rocketed away at the drop of the green flag but behind him it was fellow Canadian Alex Tagliani (#33 Johnson Controls Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) that was making all the noise. Tagliani made a solid pass of Jourdain for third on the first trip through Turn One, and then outbraked Junqueira later in that lap to claim the second spot. He would run second for the first 27 laps before a steering problem led him to have problems in Turn Three. He went wide and then came across Junqueira's car and made contact that would eventually lead to his retirement.

After that, the only drama for the next 50 laps was whether or not Tracy was going to eclipse the event record for highest margin of victory (38.100 seconds, 1990, Al Unser Jr.). He fashioned a 20-second lead after 40 laps, made it through a pair of flawless pit stops and was adding a second per lap to his lead when the yellow flags flew on Lap 78 for the stalled car of Jimmy Vasser (#12 American Spirit Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) that had spun in Turn 1.

Tracy wins Toronto

Everyone waited until Lap 81 to pit in order to avoid making a final splash-and-go and formed up behind the points leader for one more restart heading into the Princes' Gates in Turn One. Tracy took the green flag with a six carlength advantage and left Jourdain and Junqueira to their own battle.

More fierce battles took place behind the top three although the leaders were able to hold the point in nearly every situation. Rookie points leader Sebastien Bourdais (#2 Lilly Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) strengthened his hold on the lead in the first-year driver standings with a fourth-place run as he held off a pair of charges at the end of the day. Oriol Servia (#20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) celebrated his 29th birthday on Sunday by rounding out the top five, scoring his seventh consecutive top-six finish.

Roberto Moreno (#4 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) had his best weekend since March as he turned his best 2003 starting position into a sixth-place finish -- his best since Monterrey, Mexico. He fought off Patrick Carpentier's (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) late charge to send the Canadian home in seventh with rookie Darren Manning (#15 RAC/Walker Racing Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) leading the Reynard contingent in eighth. Portland winner Adrian Fernandez (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) placed ninth while rookie Tiago Monteiro (#7 Fittipaldi-Dingman Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) rounded out the top 10.

TOP THREE FINISHERS QUOTES

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA:

"I really think that if I had been ahead of Jourdain after the last stop, I would have been able to pressure Paul (Tracy). Newman/Haas gave me a very reliable car. Considering I haven't had the best of luck in Toronto in my past two races here, it's good to get a podium. I made a mistake on the last stop and locked up the tires coming in the pit box. The PacifiCare crew did a good job to get the tires on but we lost second place to Jourdain. Considering the fact that I got hit on the first stint by Alex (Tagliani), I'm glad to finish on the podium."

MICHEL JOURDAIN JR.:

"I just hope some day that I can win in Mexico because I see Paul and what it means to him and the team to win here and I am very happy for him. I am pleased to get second place and get the championship points because the last couple of weeks we have had a good car but haven't gotten the points that we should have scored."

PAUL TRACY:

"It's unbelievable to win here because of the importance of the race. It's the most dominant race of my career and to do it, I had to have a great car and Team Player's gave me a perfect car. It was kind of frustrating when the yellow came out because we had such a lead on second place. We had a great pit stop and I was able to pull away again to win. We have the momentum and Vancouver has always been good to me, so we are hopeful."

NOTEWORTHY

Paul Tracy's win is the first in Canada for a Player's-sponsored car, and the first for a Canadian driver in his home country since Tracy won in Vancouver in 2000.

Tracy's 112 laps led propelled him to third on the all-time CART Champ Car list for laps led. Tracy has now paced 3,176 laps in his career, moving him ahead of Mario Andretti (3,064), Bobby Rahal (3,107) and Al Unser Jr. (3,113). He needs to lead 91 more to pass Rick Mears for second on the list.

Tracy's 23rd victory of his career moved him into sole possession of fifth place on the all-time victory list. He needs one more victory to tie Bobby Rahal for fourth. His fifth career win from the pole makes him only the eighth CART driver to win as many as five races from the pole.

Oriol Servia's seventh consecutive top-six finishes equals a record for the venerable Patrick Racing team, which has competed in 22 of the series' 25 seasons. The winner of the very first CART event, Gordon Johncock strung seven straight top-six finishes together on two different occasions while driving for Patrick in the early 1980s.

Sebastien Bourdais widened his gap in the rookie points standings over Darren Manning with Sunday's fourth-place run, giving him 86 points to 50 for Manning. Four rookies tallied points in Sunday's race including Tiago Monteiro and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Al Unser Jr. , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Adrian Fernandez , Roberto Moreno , Bobby Rahal , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Mario Andretti , Rick Mears , Tiago Monteiro , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Sébastien Bourdais , Gordon Johncock , Michel Jourdain