CHAMPCAR/CART: Tracy tops 'em in Vancouver

CHAMPCAR/CART: Tracy tops 'em in Vancouver

Starting from the pole and never looking back, defending Molson Indy champ Paul Tracy made it two in a row in Vancouver with a clean sweep and flag-to-flag victory in round seven of the Champ Car World Series. His victory marks the 28th time he's...

Starting from the pole and never looking back, defending Molson Indy champ Paul Tracy made it two in a row in Vancouver with a clean sweep and flag-to-flag victory in round seven of the Champ Car World Series. His victory marks the 28th time he's claimed top prize, and the eighth time he has won from the pole. During the event he also led his 3,500th lap in modern-day Champ Car racing.

Paul Tracy.
Photo by Kurt Dahlstrom.
"The first part of the race was really going the way we wanted it to," Tracy said of the event. "The car was really working well. I was conserving tires so I could make a fast run before the first pit stops".

Veteran driver Michel Jourdain had an inspired drive, moving up from his twelth starting position to finish in second. "I'm very happy," Jourdain said. "It's fantastic to have both (team) cars on the podium. We've been getting better, but I've crashed the last three races so it's good to get a good result."

Rookie driver Gaston Mazzacane had a mishap with a wall on the first warm-up lap prior to the start. After safety crews cleaned up the incident, Tracy took the green flag as Sebastian Bourdais looked inside second-place starter Rodolfo Lavin and took the postion as the cars entered turn one. Everyone made it throught the first lap cleanly with Tracy leading from Bourdais followed by Lavin, Mario Domiguez and Memo Gidley.

Bourdais, seeking his fourth straight Champ Car World Series victory, was content to sit behind Tracy and remained there with the rest of the field, settling in for the first run before fuel stops.

Rodolfo Lavin.
Photo by Kurt Dahlstrom.
Tracy, only one of four drivers to win in Vancouver from the pole, led by two and a half seconds after lap fifteen, and the leaders began to lap slower traffic. Both front runners pulled away from Lavin by some fifteen seconds on lap twenty. The battle for third now consisted of Tracy teamamtes Lavin and Patrick Carpentier who were sandwiched around Dominguez. Gidley had a quick spin, dropping several positions back to tenth and never challenged the lead serial again.

Shortly before the first stops, Lavin spun at the exit of turn one while Carpentier attempted to lap Alex Sperafico, going into the same corner. The two cars collided and spun into a tire wall bringing out a full-course yellow. Both cars retired, Carpentier completely surprised by Sperafico's actions. "I don't know what he was thinking," Carpentier said. "He's a lap down and he's racing me side-by-side into the corner."

Lavin continued from his spin, but he too couldn't catch the front runners and later had a small fire in the back of the engine which ended his day.

During the melee and then subsequent re-start, Dominguez moved up to third and Bruno Junqueira took fourth position after starting eigth. Teammates Michel Jourdain and rookie A.J. Allmendinger strung out there first stints remaing on-track as the leaders hit the pits. After the pit shuffle, Allmendinger found himself in second, nine seconds behind Tracy. Jourdain followed one second behind with Bourdais, Canadian Alex Tagliani and Junqueira in-tow.

Tracy was never challenged and continued to hold a nice cushion over his competitors. The order remained virtually unchanged until the second set of pit stops. Many teams were hoping for a yellow flag to bunch up the field, but it remained green flag conditons, many cars strung out with several seconds between each.

Paul Tracy.
Photo by Kurt Dahlstrom.
On lap 70, the Forsythe team discovered that Tracy's fuel system had malfuntioned on his second stop and he would have to make a spash-n-go for fuel sometime before the end of the race. At the time, Tracy led by twenty-two seconds over Jourdain, but he would need at least 10 seconds more to make it into the pits and back out in front. Without falter, Tracy added a second per lap and came in for two and a half gallons of fuel on lap 76. He made it out confortably ahead of Jourdain -- with eight seconds to spare.

"They told me from the pits after my second stop that I could go, I didn't have to conserve fueI. Then a couple of laps later they told me I had to stop again. I don't know what the problem was but I ran hard to build more time over Michel. I was running qualifying laps in the 61 second range. I brushed the wall at the exit of turn six and I thougt a tire might go flat but it didn't. When I came in for the fuel stop, my tires were done". I was running 63-second laps at the end just trying to hang on."

Jourdain swapped third for second place during his final stop, Allmendinger minding the final podium position followed by Junqueira, and Bourdais who had dropped back to fifth. Bourdais finished in that spot and retains the Champ Car World Series points lead with 186 points.

Tracy sailed home to victory, moving up to third in the championship. Jourdain's second was his best finish of the year, and A.J. Allmendinger had his finest Champ Car finish to date with third. "It was such a tough race", Allmendinger said. "We really didn't belong where we started but we worked hard and made it to the front. I was really tired at the end but I saved energy to hold off Junqueira when he caugt up to me with ten laps left."

Rounding out the remainder of the cars on the lead lap were Junqueira, Bourdais, Dominguez, Tagliani, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Mario Haberfeld and Jimmy Vasser.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gaston Mazzacane , Mario Haberfeld , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Ryan Hunter-Reay , A.J. Allmendinger , Rodolfo Lavin , Alex Sperafico , Michel Jourdain , Mario D