CHAMPCAR/CART: Denver: Race report

Bruno Junqueira leads Newman/Haas Racing 1-2 finish capping off the team's 350th Cart Champ Car start in second consecutive Denver romp. DENVER, Colorado (August 31, 2003) -- Brazilian Bruno Junqueira ( ...

Bruno Junqueira leads Newman/Haas Racing 1-2 finish capping off the team's 350th Cart Champ Car start in second consecutive Denver romp.

DENVER, Colorado (August 31, 2003) -- Brazilian Bruno Junqueira (#1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) delivered team owners Paul Newman and Carl Haas top honors in the team's 350th Champ Car start in this afternoon's Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver, beating Newman/Haas Racing teammate and Rookie of The Year frontrunner Sebastien Bourdais (#2 McDonald's/Lilly Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) to the stripe by 0.335 seconds to complete the sweep.

With the win Junqueira scored his second straight victory in The Mile High City after leading 100 laps from pole en route to the win a year ago.

Junqueira started from the pole for the second time this season and nipped second place starter Oriol Servia (#20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) heading into to Turn 1 to take the point on the tricky 1.647-mile street circuit after two starts were negated by series starter J.D. Wilbur for misalignment at the front of the pack.

After shaking free of Servia into single file fashion, six time winner this season Paul Tracy (#3 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Player's/Forsythe Racing stole the show in the early stages of the event, powering up three positions from his ninth starting spot after overtaking the rookie trio of Mario Haberfeld (#34 Mi-Jack/Conquest Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone), Darren Manning (#15 RAC/Walker Racing Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) and Tiago Monteiro (#7 Fittipaldi-Dingman Racing Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone).

The 106-lap race was slowed after just four laps at speed when Rodolfo Lavin (#5 Corona Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) of Walker Racing became the concrete jungle's first victim when he came to a halt against the Turn 5 wall after being sandwiched between the Herdez Competition machines of Mario Dominguez (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and the shifty Champ Car veteran Roberto Moreno (#4 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone).

When the green flag flew again on Lap 7, Junqueira built his lead up to over two seconds as the field approached the first rounds of stops on Lap 32, but it would be Servia's Visteon/Patrick Racing crew that got his machine off pit lane just in front of the Newman/Haas duo of Junqueira and Bourdais.

By Lap 57, Tracy had moved up to fifth after passing Player's/Forsythe Racing teammate Patrick Carpentier (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and set the race's fastest lap three times in a seven-lap span. Shortly after, Carpentier would slow the race pace after brake problems sent him into the Turn 1 tire wall, ending the Canadian's afternoon.

With Servia showing the way, the field was sent into a pit stop frenzy as a result of the Carpentier incident when the frontrunners all made a dash for service on Lap 61. The second stop of the race would prove to be devastating for Servia who was in search of his first Champ Car World Series win, as a slow stop opened the door for the lingering Newman/Haas duo to sneak though and inherit the top two spots.

The action heated up when Junqueira and Bourdais led the frontrunners down Pit Lane for the final time on Lap 81, as Tracy beat owner/driver Adrian Fernandez (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) back on course to claim the fourth spot while the American Spirit Team Johansson squad had its hands full with a methanol fire that broke out when Ryan Hunter-Reay's (#31 American Spirit Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) machine attempted to leave his pit box with the fuel hose still engaged. Former Formula One star Mika Salo (#27 PK Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) simultaneously spun on the backstretch on cold tires and nosed into the retaining wall, brining out the caution flag in his Champ Car debut. After the restart Salo would be involved in a two car affair when the Finnish pilot was turned around by Monteiro who sent both machines out of the race.

The final stint was a two dog fight to determine which Newman/Haas driver would cross the stripe first, with Junqueira leading and Bourdais closing tenth by tenth every lap. But Junqueira would outlast the Frenchman, going nose-to-tail across the finish line and picking up 22 points for provisional pole and leading 76 laps. Junqueira closed the gap in the championship to 18 (204-186) behind leader Tracy with four races remaining.

Servia would complete the podium, scoring his second top-three in a row after finishing second a week ago at the Molson Indy Montreal, followed by Tracy and Fernandez.

The series now heads to Miami for the Grand Prix Americas Presented by sportsbook.com on the weekend of September 28 for Round 16 on the city's downtown street circuit in the second-annual dual show with the American Le Mans Series.

QUOTES FROM TOP THREE FINISHERS:

Bruno Junqueira: "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. It' s always nice to see the Brazilians out in the crowd showing their support as well. 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."

Sebastien Bourdais: "I'm very happy for the team and Newman/Haas Racing's 350th race. 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."


1Oriol Servia: "I'm actually happier this weekend with second than last weekend in Montreal where we could have won the race. This week is different because Friday we struggled, Saturday was better and my guys had great stops today without having to short-fill the car. I felt really good and thought this was our day, but on our second stop we had a slight problem with the air gun. I'm happy with the result and for the second straight podium."

NOTEWORTHY

* With an eighth place finish, rookie Darren Manning set an all time CART record for most consecutive top 10 finishes by a rookie.

* Although rookie Mario Haberfeld finished 10th after starting eighth on the grid, the Brazilian clocked in at 1:02.082 on Lap 100 of 106 and set the fastest lap of the race for the first time in his Champ Car career.

* After moving up seven positions from the 19th starting spot, American rookie Geoff Boss (#11 Cross Pens Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Dale Coyne Racing finished 12th and scored his first point in Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford competition.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Mario Haberfeld , Darren Manning , Bruno Junqueira , Roberto Moreno , Mika Salo , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Paul Newman , Tiago Monteiro , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Sébastien Bourdais , Rodolfo Lavin , Carl Haas , Geoff Boss , Dale Coyne
Teams Dale Coyne Racing