Torrid pace continues for Paul Tracy as Team Player's driver makes it two straight wins with a victory at Monterrey Grand Prix. Monterrey, Mexico, March 23, 2003 Paul Tracy of Team Player's became the first Champ car driver in 21 years to open...
Torrid pace continues for Paul Tracy as Team Player's driver makes it two straight wins with a victory at Monterrey Grand Prix.
Monterrey, Mexico, March 23, 2003 Paul Tracy of Team Player's became the first Champ car driver in 21 years to open the season with two consecutive victories when he won the Monterrey Grand Prix on Sunday. Tracy, starting from the second position on the grid, was behind pole-sitter Sebastien Bourdais for the first 16 laps before assuming a lead that he never relinquished on the way to his 21st career victory, the most among active drivers in the Champ Car World Series.
Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier, who was able to race despite being weakened by a virus that prevented him from qualifying on Saturday, delivered a gallant performance in finishing eighth a gain of seven positions from the starting grid. Mexican native Michel Jourdain Jr., delighting a home crowd packed into the grandstands at Fundidora Park, took second place for the second straight race, while Canadian Alex Tagliani took third, his first podium of the season.
In winning the first two races of the season, Tracy matched a feat last accomplished by Rick Mears in 1982. Tracy made it two in a row in much the same fashion that he won the season's opening race he grabbed the lead when Bourdais pitted off sequence and Tracy subsequently took firm control throughout the 85-lap race. After the field was closely bunched following a yellow with four laps to go, Tracy quickly widened his lead over second-place Jourdain Jr. and had a 2.039-second advantage when he took the checkered flag.
"It's a great win for Team Player's," said Tracy. "After we damaged the primary car in practice yesterday, the crew had to work really hard to prepare the back-up, and it was perfect. I was really surprised when Bourdais (Sebastien) elected not to pit under the caution. When he went off sequence and I managed to get the lead, I knew I was in good shape. This is a key win in my quest for the championship. We're going to Long Beach on a roll."
Tracy, who picked up 22 points on the weekend one for the provisional pole and one for most race laps led, along with the 20 points for winning - increased his lead in the drivers' standings to 11 points over Jourdain.
Carpentier, who has collected five points in each of the first two races, used some smart Team Player's pit strategy to consistently move up during the race. With seven laps to go, he was running sixth, when he made a daring inside move to gain two positions, but the car slid off onto the infield grass and Carpentier had to receive a bump start to get back in the race.
I'm happy for Team Player's and also happy for Paul," said Carpentier. "I am a bit disappointed with my race and my weekend. Prior to the start of the race, I ran about 30 laps in the car because I was sick. My engineers came up with a great race strategy because I went from 15th to fifth place late in the race. Then Bruno (Junqueira) passed me and I tried to get it back all at once when I made my kamikaze move. I had to try it."
Team Player's resumes action in the Champ Car World Series on April 13 at the Grand Prix of Long Beach.