CHAMPCAR/CART: Tracy dominates Milwaukee

Paul Tracy led 184 laps on his way to winning the 250-mile CART race at the Milwaukee Mile. He took the lead from the outside of the front row on the race's start and drew out a lead of several seconds on second row starter Scott Dixon. Pole-sitter Adrian Fernandez fell back at the start, slotting into 6th position.

Paul Tracy.
Photo by Team KOOL Green.

After the race, Fernandez showed his annoyance with the start, saying: "The race shouldn't have gone green -- there were at least three cars at start/finish that passed me -- that's where we lost the race -- I feel the polesitter should always pass in front at the start/finish line."

Tracy then led until lap 114, when he and teammate Dario Franchitti and Michel Jourdain made a second pit stop under a yellow flag (for Tora Takagi's slight contact with the turn 2 wall) in a fuel strategy move. The restart from that caution period jumbled the field when Michael Andretti spun exiting turn 3 as the field approached the green flag.

Chip Ganassi's drivers then held the point with Kenny Brack passing teammate Bruno Junqueira after the restart on lap 120. One lap later, Tracy took second place from Junqueira. On lap 184, both Brack and Junqueira made green flag pit stops, handing the lead back to Tracy. The Ganassi teammates were put out of the picture for the win immediately after they returned to the track, when the third Ganassi driver, Scott Dixon, drifted up to the wall in turn 2 causing the yellow flag to wave.

Apparently, Dixon's turn 2 slip was caused by oil on the track which wasn't cleaned up, because on the subsequent restart, both Dario Franchitti and Michael Andretti slid out of the line in turn 2. Franchitti hit the wall to end his day, and Andretti lost several positions.

Tracy took charge of the race from there, running his lead over polesitter Adrian Fernandez to several seconds. Fernandez finished second, Max Papis third and Christian Fittipaldi was fourth.

Papis was thrilled with his third-place finish, the second race where he gained fifteen positions over the race distance (a feat he also performed at Long Beach, going from 18th to 2nd). He revealed that his team has virtually no spare parts, saying: "It was difficult to be 'super brave', I could only be 'normal brave'" and "they (his Sigma team) work with so little and achieve so much."

Tracy was asked after the race about the difficulty he had passing lapped cars during the race and whether the change to the "speedway" style wings for Milwaukee was an issue. He did admit to having trouble passing Townsend Bell in the early part of the race, but said: "All the cars are fast. I caught the back of the pack (later in the race) and it was Michael and Brack and both of them were fast."

Michel Jourdain, Jr. assumes the CART point lead after four races with a fifth place finish. Previous leader Franchitti is seven points back with 35. Tracy and Papis are tied for third with 32 points.