CHAMPCAR/CART: Denver: Race report

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS OPENS UP 53-POINT GULF IN CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES STANDINGS WITH CENTRIX FINANCIAL GRAND PRIX OF DENVER VICTORY DENVER (August 14, 2005) -- Legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi was once quoted as saying that luck is made when ...

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS OPENS UP 53-POINT GULF IN CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES STANDINGS WITH CENTRIX FINANCIAL GRAND PRIX OF DENVER VICTORY

DENVER (August 14, 2005) -- Legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi was once quoted as saying that luck is made when preparation meets opportunity.

Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) showed that he was more than prepared when opportunity knocked Sunday in Denver, taking advantage of a rare Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) miscue to take victory in the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver presented by PacifiCare.

The victory was the third consecutive for Bourdais, and more importantly allowed the defending series champion to widen his points lead to 53 with five races to go over Tracy, who ended his day in 16th after a bobble left him in the Turn Four fence.

Tracy was the class of the field during the opening half of the event, pulling away to an 11-second lead over the field even through the first round of pit stops. Tracy led a train that had lapped 12 of the 18 cars in the field at one point, leaving Bourdais to battle with Mario Dominguez (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and A.J. Allmendinger (#10 Western Union Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) for podium spots.

But Tracy committed an uncharacteristic error on Lap 62, brushing the inside of the Turn Three fence while trying to lap Timo Glock (#8 DHL Global Mail Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), sending him straight into the Turn Four wall. The accident resulted in heavy damage to the Forsythe machine, ending Tracy's run after a day where he had led 59 of 62 laps.

Bourdais took the lead on the restart and sprinted away from there, leaving Dominguez and Allmendinger for second place, building a 15-second margin-of-victory on his way to his third consecutive Champ Car victory. Bourdais also ran the fastest lap of the day to earn an extra championship point, giving him more than a full race's allotment of points over Tracy in his quest to become the first driver since Gil de Ferran (2000-2001) to repeat as Champ Car champion.

Dominguez overcame a brief mistake of his own to score the second spot, earning his first podium finish of the 2005 season. The Mexican driver fought past the tenacious Glock and then outraced Allmendinger in Turn Nine on the race's penultimate lap to snare the runner-up position. Allmendinger held on for third place, taking his third podium finish of the season and the fifth of his young career.

The start of the race saw a brief bit of fireworks as Cristiano da Matta (#21 Bell Micro Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) came up the inside of the first turn and triggered a melee that left his PKV Racing car sitting nearly on top of the RuSPORT machine of Justin Wilson (#9 Intel Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Alex Tagliani (#15 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) were also gathered up in the maelstrom, sending them to the pits for repairs and dooming them to finish deep in the pack.

Allmendinger made up two spots in the first-lap incident but Bourdais and Dominguez chased him down and took over the second and third spots respectively on Lap 18. The order would stay the same with Bjorn Wirdheim (#4 HVM Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) holding down the fifth spot as the field approached their first set of pit stops. Tracy pitted first, while Bourdais stayed on track to lead two laps before heading down Pit Lane. Bourdais and his Newman/Haas Racing team suffered an anxious moment of their own when the right-rear wheel nut escaped the airgun, but the Frenchman was able to return to action in second place.

Allmendinger rejoined in third, then was promoted to second with the aforementioned Tracy accident. Allmendinger led third-place Glock with 15 laps to go as the German rookie chased his first series podium. The Roshfrans Rookie-of-the-Year points leader suffered his first official Champ Car heartbreak when his transmission let go with nine laps to go, leaving him to finish 13th.

His mechanical trouble boosted Dominguez to third, and allowed him to get in position to catch Allmendinger, which he would with one lap to go to earn his best finish since he won in Miami in 2003. Allmendinger rounded out the podium while Oriol Servia (#2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) scored the fourth spot. Servia's finish moved him into the third spot in the championship standings after nine races, marking the highest points position of the Spaniard's six-year career.

Rodolfo Lavin (#55 HVM Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) ended his day in the fifth spot, scoring a top-five run in just his second start of the 2005 season. His finish was the best on a road course for the Mexican pilot since he ran second at Road America last year. Ryan Hunter-Reay (#31 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) overcame qualifying troubles to take the sixth spot in the finishing order, earning the championship point for making up the most positions on a day where the American driver gained 11 spots from his grid spot.

Ronnie Bremer (#19 American Medical Response Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) finished seventh today and moved to within just two points of the lead in the rookie point standings while Ricardo Sperafico (#11 American Medical Response Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) earned the best finish of his Champ Car career with an eighth-place run.

The series takes a week off and then heads to Canada for the third and final time this season, visiting the picturesque Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve for the Molson Indy Montreal August 26-28.

QUOTES FROM THE TOP THREE FINISHERS:

Sebastien Bourdais: "When I saw PT in the wall, I was very surprised because PT makes very few mistakes and that's not the kind of mistake he makes when he's up front like that. I am just glad we did it. Second year in a row it was very important for us for Centrix and PacifiCare, for everybody."

Mario Dominguez: "I almost lost the podium because I made a mistake and I pressed the water button instead of the radio. All the water splashed in the helmet. So it got all dirty, then it just started to fog up. In fact, during the yellow I had to take off my glove completely, tried to wipe it from the inside and put it back on again. That was a mess. It was so bad I lost concentration, missed the braking point. Then I said to myself if I don't make the podium they are going to kill me. So I did."

A.J. Allmendinger: "We seemed to have a pretty good car in the first like 10 laps of a run and then we kind of just -- were all weekend kind of missing the setup on from 10 laps on, so you know, I just came in with the attitude this weekend that -- the last three weeks were quite disappointing. I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself."

NOTEWORTHY

* Paul Tracy became just the sixth driver in Champ Car history to lead 4,000 race laps, joining Mario and Michael Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Bobby Unser.

* Sebastien Bourdais led 38 laps to boost his career total to 968, moving him to 23rd on the all-time laps led list, vaulting him ahead of Helio Castroneves.

* Bourdais repeated as the winner of the Grand Prix of Denver, allowing him to join Bruno Junqueira as the only drivers to win in the four seasons of Denver Champ Car street racing.

-ccws-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Ricardo Sperafico , Justin Wilson , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Mario Dominguez , Bobby Unser , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Rodolfo Lavin , Bjorn Wirdheim , Ronnie Bremer , Timo Glock , A.J. Foyt , Cristiano da Matta , Al Unser
Teams HVM Racing