Bruno bags Shell Grand Prix of Denver; leads 10-car Lola freight train to checkered flags. Bruno Junqueira, driving the ...
Bruno bags Shell Grand Prix of Denver; leads 10-car Lola freight train to checkered flags.
Bruno Junqueira, driving the #4 Team Target Lola/Toyota was nearly unchallenged over 100 laps of the Shell Grand Prix of Denver, pressured only by teammate Scott Dixon in the #44 Coors Light Lola/Toyota, who finished .282 seconds behind. Point leader Cristiano da Matta drove a relatively conservative race in the #6 Havoline Lola/Toyota to take third. With his win, Junqueira assumes second place in the quest for CART's Vanderbilt Cup, trailing da Matta 175-123. Despite forecasts of low finishing counts, fourteen of eighteen cars completed the race on the bumpy 1.647-mile streets around Denver's Pepsi Center, with eleven on the lead lap. The race was held under partly cloudy skies, air temps at 87-91 and tracks temps of 100-113 degrees.
In the waning laps, "It was very difficult to keep my concentration on this very slippery race track." He built a near-13-second lead over pursuers Adrian Fernandez (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Lola/Honda) and Dixon. The soft-spoken Kiwi "expected drama at the start" and was surprised to get through to lap 88 without a caution period. "I had a very good car throughout the race, but while I could get close to Bruno, I couldn't get past," Dixon noted. Da Matta started the event in seventh place and gained spots by keeping to his intended strategy. "Our performance was not what we wanted, but I'm pleased with third today. We struggled this weekend and it was a matter of keeping our nose clean in the race," da Matta admitted.
Fourth place went to Fernandez, who had a long brake pedal throughout the day. Christian Fittipaldi took fifth in the #11 Lilly Lola/Toyota after two bad pit stops. "The airjack shot out of the car and dropped in the middle of our stop, but considering that, fifth is okay." Tony Kanaan relayed "thanks to my guys for giving me a car to go the distance today" after taking sixth in the #10 Pioneer/WorldCom Lola/Honda. Kenny Brack finished seventh in the #12 Target Lola/Toyota, using earlier pit stop strategy that failed when the race ran green for all but four laps. Paul Tracy recovered from a lap one punt of teammate Dario Franchitti and a subsequent drive-through penalty to take eighth in the #26 Team KOOL Green Lola/Honda. Teammates Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Lola/Ford) and Jimmy Vasser (#8 Shell Lola/Ford completed the top ten. Jourdain has earned points in all 14 Champ Car races held to date.
The CART FedEx tour continues in Corby, England on Saturday, September 14th.