Second-place finish on Portland road course restores Team Player'a Paul Tracy atop the drivers' standings. Portland, Oregon, June 22, 2003 Paul Tracy of Team Player's soared back into the lead in the Champ Car World Series drivers' standings...
Second-place finish on Portland road course restores Team Player'a Paul Tracy atop the drivers' standings.
Portland, Oregon, June 22, 2003 Paul Tracy of Team Player's soared back into the lead in the Champ Car World Series drivers' standings with a second-place finish on Sunday in the G.I. Joe's 200 Portland Grand Prix, his fifth podium in eight races this season. Tracy, the co-leader for most race laps led, was in front with 14 laps to go, when Mexico's Adrian Fernandez got past him with an outside move on turn 1.
Tracy's teammate Patrick Carpentier, trying to win for the second straight week, was forced to retire on lap 75 when an aggressive passing attempt on cold tires sent him spinning into the tire wall. Fellow Canadian Alex Tagliani took third place for his second podium of the season.
The pole-sitting Tracy led the race on three separate occasions for a total of 42 laps. Running second on his second pit stop on lap 45, Tracy barged ahead of Michel Jourdain for the lead. Race control officials later ruled, however, that Tracy had not properly merged leaving the pits and he was assessed a five-second penalty on his next stop, on lap 72. He managed to build up more than a five-second lead and, helped by some excellent work by the Team Player's crew, maintained his lead despite the penalty.
The turning point of the race came on lap 86, as Fernandez, now running second, advanced on Tracy in turn 1 following a re-start. Tracy ran wide on the brakes and the car got into the marbles, allowing Fernandez to seize on the opportunity to grab a lead he never relinquished. Tracy, who had to nurse a slow-shifting gearbox in the latter stages of the race, managed to hold off the hard-charging Tagliani for second place.
"We've got the points lead back, and that's the good news," said Tracy, who was the standings leader through the first four races of the season three of which he won. "But on that pass by Adrian, I really just blew it. I'm disappointed for the team and I'm disappointed with myself. Ultimately, Adrian was just faster than me and that was the difference. You have to give him credit."
It was Fernandez's first victory in 47 races and his first as a team owner. Tracy's second-place finish gave him 99 points in the overall standings, a lead of four and eight points over Bruno Junqueira and Jourdain respectively. Carpentier retains fourth-place, with 70 points.
"Nothing seemed to work for us this weekend," said Carpentier, who qualified 10th after running into heavy traffic on most of his fast-lap attempts. "We had a good start today, jumping a few positions and getting into seventh. Before the first pit stop under yellow, the car spun on some oil and we lost several positions. The second incident, which put us out of the race, was a case of going too hard on cold tires. But I figured that my only chance to pass was on cold tires. I was just trying to be aggressive to work my way back."
Following a one-week break in the schedule, Team Player's returns to action on Saturday, July 5, with the second night race of the Champ Car season this one on Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport runway.