CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto: Team Players race report

Awesome ride by native son Paul Tracy delivers Team Player'S its first Champ Car victory on Canadian soil Toronto, Ontario, July 13, 2003 In what he described as the best win of his 13-year career, Paul Tracy returned to a home crowd of 73,255...

Awesome ride by native son Paul Tracy delivers Team Player'S its first Champ Car victory on Canadian soil

Toronto, Ontario, July 13, 2003 In what he described as the best win of his 13-year career, Paul Tracy returned to a home crowd of 73,255 on Sunday and dominated the Molson Indy Toronto race from flag to flag, providing Team Player's with its 18th career Champ Car victory and first on Canadian soil.

Tracy, the only Canadian driver with a previous win in Canada he accomplished the feat in Toronto in 1993 joined Team Player's prior to the start of the 2003 Champ Car World Series season, and he produced the team's first home victory in his first Canadian appearance as a member of Team Player's. Toronto is the first of three Canadian stops in the 19-race series, with Vancouver and Montreal coming up in July and August respectively.

Patrick Carpentier of Team Player's, who was running fourth well past the midway point of the 112-lap race, had to pit early on his second pit stop because of looseness with the car and he wound up in seventh place. Fellow Canadian Alex Tagliani, running second to Tracy through the first 28 laps, had to retire after contact with Brazilian Bruno Junqueira damaged his suspension. Junqueira finished third in the race, just behind Mexico's Michel Jourdain Jr.

"To win here in Canada for Team Player's is the defining moment of my career," said Tracy, who has 23 Champ Car victories. "It's a great day for Canada and for Team Player's. I'm glad that all the fans were here to see it. A big thanks to the entire team the guys gave me a perfect car today."

Tracy, who boosted his lead over Junqueira in the drivers' championship to 15 points (139-124), was relentless and flawless in piloting the "perfect" car to the checkered flag. From the pole, he was a man on a mission, building a 35-second lead before an incident involving Jimmy Vasser and Mario Dominguez on lap 77 bunched up the field for the re-start. But Tracy hustled into the pits during the caution to maintain some distance once the green came out and he continually widened the gap over Jourdain Jr. to win by 4.5 seconds.

"This win is 10 times better than the win here 10 years ago," said Tracy, whose eyes welled up during the post-race playing of the national anthem honouring the home country of the winning driver. "Knowing that this is the last year that Player's is going to be involved in racing, we really want to win the championship and the races in Canada. Winning here today is huge."

Carpentier, whose seventh-place finish matched his best career performance on the 1.755-mile Toronto street circuit he was seventh in 2000 said he was happy to see his teammate record such a resounding win in his home city (Tracy is from the Toronto suburb of Scarborough). "Hopefully, I can do the same in Montreal next month (Carpentier is from Joliette, Que., just north of Montreal)."

As for his own performance, Carpentier said the looseness at the rear of the car made it difficult to handle. "After each pit stop, the tires were good for several laps but then the rear would become real loose when the tires were used up a bit," he explained. "I wanted the Team Player's crew to bring me in earlier for my second stop because the handling was bad on the car and several cars passed me. I went from 4th to 7th and wasn't able to pass anyone because the car was pushing too much."

Following a one-week break in the schedule, Team Player's will remain on Canadian soil for Round 11 in the Champ Car World Series, when drivers Tracy and Carpentier take to the streets of Vancouver, on July 27.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Mario Dominguez , Michel Jourdain