CHAMPCAR/CART: Denver: Newman/Hass race report

Pacificare driver Junqueira won back-to-back Denver events in Centrix Financial Grand Prix while Mcdonald's / Lilly driver Bourdais brought team 1-2 finish in their 350th event. - PacifiCare driver Bruno Junqueira closed his pre-race deficit of...

Pacificare driver Junqueira won back-to-back Denver events in Centrix Financial Grand Prix while Mcdonald's / Lilly driver Bourdais brought team 1-2 finish in their 350th event.

- PacifiCare driver Bruno Junqueira closed his pre-race deficit of 28 points to 18 behind Paul Tracy after he led 76 laps in route to victory from pole position in the 106-lap Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver and brought Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) a win in their 350th Champ Car World Series event. It was the first time Junqueira earned back-to-back Champ Car race wins after having led all 100 laps from pole en route to victory around the 1.647-mile Pepsi Center course last season - also from pole. Junqueira's fifth Champ Car win was also the 14th victory for NHR in the past 36 races and 73rd overall as well as the first for the team in Denver.

After earning his seventh career Champ car pole and second of the season, Junqueira held the lead through two attempts to start the race and kept it until his first of three mandatory pits stops each 32 laps. The usual procedure is for the fueler to pull the fueling apparatus out of the car once the lights activate, indicating the appropriate amount of fuel has been put in the car. The lights did not activate and the stop was slightly longer. Simultaneous to this, second place runner Oriol Servia experienced a quick stop and left the pits in the lead with Junqueira in second. As the next scheduled stop would be slightly quicker due to less fuel, Junqueira kept within 1 to 1.5 seconds behind Servia in an attempt to regain the lead due to quick pit work on the next stop. Near the second pit window on Lap 61, Patrick Carpentier hit the Turn 1 tire wall because of apparent brake problems. The field came into the pits immediately and the PacifiCare crew performed a quick stop and Junqueira returned to the race in the lead with teammate Bourdais in second. He held a lead with an average of between one to two seconds before his final pit stop on Lap 80 after the pits opened during the caution period for Roberto Moreno who had hit the Turn 1 wall. Junqueira maintained his lead once his stop was completed. The caution period was extended due to a pit fire in Ryan Hunter-Reay's pit and contact by Mika Salo. The race resumed on Lap 85 and Junqueira started to build a lead on Bourdais that approached 1.7-seconds on Lap 89 before he lightly brushed the concrete wall beginning his 91st lap in Turn 1 and reduced the gap to four tenths of a second. In the ensuing laps he maintained a lead between one-half of a second to one second over Bourdais and took the checkered flag by a margin of 0.335. He collected 20 points for the victory and one for leading the most laps to bring his weekend total to 22 of 23 points available. Championship leader Paul Tracy moved from his ninth place start into a fourth place finish to earn 12 points and maintained his lead by a 204-186 margin with four races remaining this season. Following are Junqueira's post race comments:

"This is exactly what I needed," said Junqueira. "The PacifiCare car has been good all weekend. This is for sure a big win for Newman/Haas Racing, finishing one-two in their 350th start is great. Scoring more points for the championship is big too, this is exactly what I needed coming in to Denver. This is one of the most difficult places we race at. To find a good balance in the car with the different corners made of concrete and asphalt surfaces in tough. I tried to set the car up to work reasonably well with the differences and I like Denver more and more each time I come back here. I think I'm going to move here and ride bikes and win races. It' s always nice to see the Brazilians out in the crowd showing their support as well. The Bridgestone tires were perfect this weekend. They came up to speed very quickly and they held throughout the run. The second lap out each time I was able to put really fast laps in and break away from Sebastien or Oriol or whoever else was behind me. That was my big advantage in the race. There was no difference between new tires and old tires. I was able to put really fast laps in early in the race, late in the race. The tires worked perfect for me."

- McDonald's / Lilly driver Sebastien Bourdais regained his fourth place rank in the Champ Car World Series point standings today after he finished second to bring Newman/Haas Racing a one-two finish in their 350th Champ Car World Series event in the 106-lap Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver. He started the race in third place and held his position through two attempts to start the race and until his first of three mandatory pit stops each 32 laps, on Lap 32. He maintained his position when he returned to the race but was now behind Junqueira who had lost the lead to Oriol Servia after the pit stop. He held his position until the second pit stop on Lap 62 during the caution period to remove the car of Patrick Carpentier who had apparently lost the function of his brakes and driven into the tire wall in Turn 1. A very quick stop by the McDonald's / Lilly crew enabled Bourdais to move into second behind Junqueira who also had a quick stop while race leader Servia dropped to third after a slightly slower stop. Once the race restarted on Lap 66, he ran within one to two seconds behind Junqueira and built his lead on Servia to 10 seconds by Lap 76. On Lap 78 Roberto Moreno brought out a full course caution after he ran into the Turn 1 tire wall. As the timing was within the final pit window, the field made their third and final stop once the pits opened on Lap 80. After another quick stop, Bourdais returned to the race in second place and held the position through the restart on Lap 85. During the final laps, Bourdais was able to close to within four-tenths of a second of Junqueira but was unable to get close enough to attempt a pass. He took the checkered flag 0.335 behind his teammate to earn 16 points and move back into fourth place in the Championship standings with a total of 142 points, 23 behind third place Michel Jourdain with four races to go. Following are his post race comments:

"I'm very happy for the McDonald's / Lilly team and to help bring Newman/Haas Racing a one-two finish in their 350th race," said Bourdais. "I tried as hard as I could but never had a chance to get Bruno. He is tough on the street circuits and the only way I was going to get a chance to pass him was in Turn 5. But I wasn't about to try something stupid and risk ruining Bruno's run at the championship. The tires were very consistent. We might have been able to run softer tires but this was the safe way for Bridgestone to approach the weekend with all the work they did on grinding the track and things to make it smoother. The tires were very consistent and it was fair for everybody."

- Next Up...The Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford will take three well-deserved weeks off before reconvening in Junqueira and Bourdais's U.S. residence of Miami on September 28. NHR's Cristiano da Matta clinched his 2002 Championship with a victory in the event while Christian Fittipaldi finished second. Junqueira finished fifth in 2002 for Ganassi Racing.

-nhr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Roberto Moreno , Mika Salo , Patrick Carpentier , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Sébastien Bourdais , Cristiano da Matta , Michel Jourdain
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing