CHAMPCAR/CART: Carpentier sails around for Laguna Seca win

LAGUNA SECA, Calif. (June 15, 2003) -- Canadian Patrick Carpentier led wire to wire Sunday, capturing the win at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Carpentier beat out second place finisher Bruno Junquiera by just 0.8 seconds to claim his fourth career...

LAGUNA SECA, Calif. (June 15, 2003) -- Canadian Patrick Carpentier led wire to wire Sunday, capturing the win at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Carpentier beat out second place finisher Bruno Junquiera by just 0.8 seconds to claim his fourth career victory and third road course win in Champ Cars.

"I feel like I stole the car and these guys were police and they were chasing me," Carpentier said.

Never relinquishing the lead, Carpentier still had his work cut out for him much of the day. "The first part of the stint I could get away but halfway through Paul and Bruno were faster. I couldn't get a cushion and had to fight traffic."

Carpentier led the field around Mazda Raceway's 11-turn 2.238-mile circuit after an aborted first lap when Junquiera jumped the start. Approaching the line, spotters reported nose-to-tail contact between Carpentier and Tracy.

"When we came around the last corner, Bruno got a run on me so I slowed down on the straight." Carpentier said. "Paul hit me in the back and my car went into the air. The next time around I got out in front a bit to start the race."

After lap three, Carpentier had a three second lead from #3 Tracy, followed by #1 Junquiera, #51 Fernandez and #34 Haberfeld. Haberfeld had a terrific start getting around rookie points leader Sebastian Bourdais.

Teammate Paul Tracy slowly began to reel in his fellow countryman, becoming the fastest driver with fifteen laps in the books. As both men approached slower traffic in the famous corkscrew, Tracy made a bold move around Alex Tagliani, forcing him onto the curbing as the pass was completed.

The two Player's cars were glued together as they entered the pits nose-to- tail. Positioned directly behind Tracy, Carpentier just barely made it out first, nearly colliding with the #3 car as he spun his tires and slid sideways in an attempt to retain the lead.

At the halfway mark, Carpentier lead Tracy by .532 seconds, Junquiera 1.131 seconds back and Bourdais, who had made some ground after the first round of pit stops, 8 seconds adrift.

As most teams prepared for their second round of stops, Junquiera tucked in right behind the leaders. Upon exiting his pit box, Tracy clipped a tire laying in Adrian Fernandez pit area, and then made another desperate attempt at the lead, locking up his front tires upon entering turn two.

"When I came into my pit, I saw the Fernandez team set up for their stop. The crewman placed a tire right in the corner of their box making it difficult for me to exit. I thought to myself, oh great! I got the car pitched sideways but I still hit it." Going into turn one, I tried to get on the outside of Patrick and locked the tires, a got a huge flat-spot."

Whether or not Tracy damaged his rear tire is left to subjection, but Junquiera inched closer and closer, pressuring him to make a mistake. On lap 58 that wait came to fruition when the Canadian went off-track exiting turn six. Tracy kept his Ford Lola off the wall but Junquiera was through and quickly added distance.

"It was a tough race," Junquiera said. "I was just following Paul and Patrick. We put stickers (new tires) on the second stop and started laying down quick laps. When Paul made his mistake, I was seven seconds back and started to push hard"

Carpentier caught some backmarkers and was clocking in the mid-1:13s while Junquiera got some clean air and pulled to within three seconds of the lead, turning in quick laps in the mid-1:12s.

The third round of stops saw both men enter the pit access road and then almost crash into each other as Carpentier nearly hit the tire wall.

"Patrick did not make a mistake on the track all day," Junquiera said. "When we entered the pits Patrick almost crashed and I almost crashed into him because the pit lane is narrow and there is no place to go. I thought, this is the only time he makes a mistake and there is nowhere to pass him."

Mi-Jack Racing rookie sensation Mario Haberfeld claimed fourth spot from Bourdais during the race when the Frenchman came into the pits with mechanical woes. Bourdais returned to the fray but never did get back to racing speed and ended his weekend completing only 77 of the scheduled 87 laps.

Haberfeld was later passed by series points leader Michel Jourdain, but had a career best fifth with the highest placing Reynard chassis. "Out of the truck, the car had great balance," Haberfeld said. "But with cold tires after pit stops I think we lost a little time."

Jourdain, who had his pole winning time disallowed Saturday when a post-qualifying technical inspection found his car to be underweight, had to stand on his Friday qualifying time of 1:10.970 and started 13th.

Although he had one of the fastest cars and ran as high as fourth, Jourdain never challenged for a podium spot and finished 40 seconds behind the winner. Jourdain retains his points lead, with Junquiera now just six points behind and Tracy eight.

"It was a great race but frustrating," Jourdain said. "We were the fastest car yesterday and today. I told our guys maybe things happen for a reason. We could have been taken out on the first corner so I guess 12 points is okay."

English rookie Darren Manning and Mexico's Rodolfo Lavin exited the event early. Both drivers suffered pressure problems after completing less than five laps. They, along with Bourdais, were the only three cars to exit the event early. The race saw no caution periods although the first lap was under yellow.

The Champ Car World Series makes its next stop June 20-22 as the cars return to Oregon for the Portland Grand Prix.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Mario Haberfeld , Darren Manning , Bruno Junqueira , Adrian Fernandez , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Rodolfo Lavin , Michel Jourdain