CHAMPCAR/CART: Tracy sweeps again, this time at Mid-Ohio

CHAMPCAR/CART: Tracy sweeps again, this time at Mid-Ohio

Paul Tracy made another clean sweep of the available points in a one-two finish for Team Forsythe today at the Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio. Rookie American Spirit Team Johansson driver Ryan Hunter-Reay finished third, the best of his CART ...

Paul Tracy made another clean sweep of the available points in a one-two finish for Team Forsythe today at the Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio. Rookie American Spirit Team Johansson driver Ryan Hunter-Reay finished third, the best of his CART Champ Car career.

Paul Tracy.
Photo by Paul Strak.
Tracy took full advantage of championship rival Bruno Junqueira's misfortune, gaining a turnaround from last week when Junqueira swept all the points and Tracy scored none. Tracy regains the points lead and again leads Junqueira by 20 points.

Tracy started from the pole and took off to a comfortable early lead over Hunter-Reay, yesterday's surprise second place qualifier. Behind them, Michel Jourdain, Jr. passed Sebastien Bourdais for third place; Oriol Servia jumped Mario Dominguez for seventh place, and Darren Manning and Jimmy Vasser each moved up a place at the expense of Tiago Monteiro.

As the cars made their first pass through Mid-Ohio's tricky esses, Dominguez clicked wheels with Adrian Fernandez and Fernandez was knocked off track and lost several positions.

Vasser was the hottest driver on the track in the early laps. He went from 14th to 13th on the start, got twelfth when Fernandez went off, then passed Darren Manning on lap 4 and was harassing Roberto Moreno for 10th. He got the spot when Moreno lost it entering Thunder Valley and spun into the tires. Moreno's accident required the race's first caution flag to fly.

Bruno Junqueira.
Photo by Michael Kim.
After a quick (two yellow laps) cleanup, the green came out again, but not for long. Servia saw an opening inside of Junqueira as they approached Mid-Ohio's Keyhole turn, dove for it and put both cars in the gravel trap when Junqueira closed the door. Under the double caution flags, both cars were lifted out of the gravel and sent on their way. Junqueira got new wings in the pits and continued two laps behind the leader, while Servia's Patrick Racing team found suspension damage on his car and his day was done.

When the first round of pit stops for the leaders arrived on lap 24, several drivers that had had earlier incidents or had pitted earlier for an alternate strategy cycled to the front. Thus Fernandez led from Monteiro, Rodolfo Lavin and Gualter Salles. Behind them, Tracy was fifth ahead of Jourdain, who had benefited from a fast Team Rahal stop to come out ahead of Hunter-Reay.

When first Monteiro (on lap 35) then Fernandez, Salles, and Lavin (two laps later) made their next stops, Tracy returned to the lead.

In the next pit cycle, Fernandez elected to pit with the leaders and get back on sequence, but Monteiro stayed out and led the race for 10 laps before his next stop came. The lead pack got jumbled again on the second round pit stops, Carpentier coming out ahead of Hunter-Reay and Jourdain with a fast stop.

Vasser continued to move up through the field, making outbraking passes of Bourdais (on lap 54) and Jourdain on (lap 57) at the end of the back straight. When Monteiro gave up the lead, Vasser was in 4th place, amazing progress on a Mid-Ohio track that is annoyingly difficult for passing.

His teammate was surprised to see the other ASTJ Reynard in his mirror. "I have yet to hear the story of how he climbed from 14th all the way up to fourth. Once he was up there, for sure, he was flying," a bubbling Hunter-Reay said immediately after the race.

Pitstops for Patrick Carpentier and Paul Tracy.
Photo by Paul Strak.
When the lead cars returned to the track after their final stops on lap 72, Tracy seemed to have his hands full with Carpentier and the two Johansson cars making ground on his lead. He stepped up the pace and held on for his first Mid-Ohio win. Vasser's fine drive was spoiled when he locked his rear brakes for turn 9 and spun into the tire wall and out of the race. His young teammate consolidated his breakthrough Champ Car weekend though, following Carpentier across the line in third.

Jourdain got 4th ahead of Bourdais. Alex Tagliani had a quiet race to finish 6th, followed by Fernandez - who had a much busier day! Manning, Max Papis and Mario Haberfeld filled out the top ten, and the final points were earned by Monteiro and Lavin, both one lap behind the leaders. Junquiera was 13th, just out of the points, and still two laps down.

Tracy credited a positive approach for his good weekend, after a fruitless race at Road America. "I had a long talk with (Forsythe engineer) Tony Cicale this week, and he said: 'We've got to go into Mid-Ohio. We're not going to win the championship at Mid-Ohio but we can definitely lose the championship at Mid-Ohio if we don't have a good race,'" Tracy said.

The CART Champ Car World Series returns in two weeks at the Molson Indy Montreal, round 14 of the 19-race championship.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Mario Haberfeld , Darren Manning , Gualter Salles , Bruno Junqueira , Adrian Fernandez , Roberto Moreno , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Mario Dominguez , Tiago Monteiro , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Sébastien Bourdais , Rodolfo Lavin , Michel Jourdain , Michael Kim