CHAMPCAR/CART: Vancouver: Newman/Haas Racing race report

Pacificare driver Junqueira led the first 21 laps of the Molson Indy Vancouver but finished second after being penalized; Lilly driver Bourdais finished third. - PacifiCare driver Bruno Junqueira pulled ahead of polesitter Paul Tracy when the ...

Pacificare driver Junqueira led the first 21 laps of the Molson Indy Vancouver but finished second after being penalized; Lilly driver Bourdais finished third.

- PacifiCare driver Bruno Junqueira pulled ahead of polesitter Paul Tracy when the green flag flew and held the position for the first 21 laps of the 100-lap Molson Indy Vancouver but CART stewards forced him to relinquish the lead on Lap 24 and take over second place which was his ultimate finishing position. He earned his eighth podium finish in 11 races this season as well as a total of 17 points for the weekend (16 in the race, 1 for prov. pole) but ultimately lost ground to Tracy in the Championship after he entered the weekend 15 points in arrears but now is 20 back.

The race ran under clear blue skies in front of 66,077 fans that brought the three-day total to 162,271. Before the green flag even flew, the race shaped up to be one of attrition as the cars of Geoff Boss and Gualter Salles slide off course into the tire barriers during the pace laps. The race started with the caution flag displayed and once the green flag finally flew to signal the official start of the race on Lap 4, Junqueira got a jump on Tracy and led a Champ Car race for the first time this season. The field was immediately slowed again to due to contact between Sebastien Bourdais and Roberto Moreno that left Moreno stopped on course. On the same lap, Tiago Monteiro and Oriol Servia made contact. Once the race was restarted on Lap 8 Junqueira settled into a pace but flatspotted his tires. He initially proceeded with caution to protect his tires but soon after was able to extend his lead from .5-seconds to .750 by Lap 19. Unfortunately 20 laps into the race CART decided that in spite of Starter J.D. Wilber's decision to throw the green flag to start the race with Junqueira ahead of Tracy, they would penalize him for "jumping the start." Ideally if the lineup of the cars had not been to his liking, he would have thrown the yellow flag and another attempt would have been made as has been the case in many other events. On Lap 24 Junqueira slowed and allowed Tracy to pass. By the time the majority of the field made their first pit stop on Lap 30, Tracy had held a 5.4-second lead on Junqueira. At the conclusion of his pit stop, the car stalled and he lost one position to Patrick Carpentier once he rejoined the race. He held third place until Lap 37 when the race resumed from a yellow flag for contact between the cars of Alex Tagliani and Tiago Monteiro and Michel Jourdain got a jump on him in Turns 6 & 7. He held the position until his next stop on Lap 60 and returned to the race in third place behind temporary race leader Bourdais and Tracy but ahead of Michel Jourdain due to quick pit work. Previous second place runner Carpentier had made contact with a backmarker when he returned to the track and retired due to the contact. Once Bourdais made his out-of-sequence stop on Lap 62, Junqueira returned to second place but was 17 seconds behind Tracy by Lap 65. The margin was almost 20 seconds by Lap 76 as he negotiated with lapped cars but he was able to reduce it to 16.5 by Lap 83. More importantly Junqueira needed to continue to build a gap on third place runner Bourdais because he would be making his final pit stop one lap later than Junqueira and could possibly use the track position to his advantage and take over second place. Junqueira was again held up by backmarkers and his margin over Bourdais shrunk to 3.6-seconds by Lap 88 before his Lap 90 pit stop. Bourdais ultimately got stuck behind traffic as well as Junqueira was able to make his final stop on Lap 90 with ease and return to the track in second place with a safe margin and hold his position when Bourdais made his final stop on Lap 91. He held second place and took the checkered flag 17-seconds behind Paul Tracy who earned his fifth victory this season. Although he is 20 points back from leader Paul Tracy who has 161, he is 16 ahead of third place Michel Jourdain who finished fourth. Following are Junqueira's post race comments:

"It is not bad to finish second," said Junqueira. "Unfortunately, second again to Paul Tracy. In 11 races, we have been always very fast, but didn't win yet. On the start, just after the last corner, you have a cone that's supposed to be the start cone. At that point you have to start to accelerate. Ninety-nine percent of the time the drivers that are leading on the pole, everybody just accelerates a little bit before the cone because if you accelerate on the cone, the guy that's in second knows you're going to accelerate there, just accelerate a little bit earlier. I felt that in Toronto Paul accelerated earlier than I was expecting him to. Then he got a big jump on me on the start. Today I thought that he's going to do pretty much the same and accelerate a little bit before the cone, and he didn't. Then pretty much I passed him. But I don't know, I have to see on the replay because is difficult anywhere in the car. But when the green flag flew, you pretty much side-by-side. But for sure when I was on the start/finish line, I was in front. I don't know, like in Portland, I wasn't on the front row, and they try to do a lot of starts with Paul Tracy and Michel. It's difficult. I mean, it's difficult for me to say anything because I didn't see the replay. But for sure it's much, much worse than losing the pole on Friday. To lose the lead in the middle of the race is a little bit worse.

"But I think all the PacifiCare, Newman/Haas team are doing very good job. We are being very consistent. That's the most important thing. I think now there is going to be this stretch till the end of the year, a lot of back-to-back races. I think the best way to win the championship is to be consistent, and that's what we're going to try to do. Eventually, I hope we can win a race before the end of the year.

"Anyway, today was quite difficult for me. I passed Paul Tracy on the start, and on the third lap after the start, I flat-spotted my right front tire. I did five or six laps not pushing very hard, just make sure that the right front got back in shape. But I saw even if I wasn't pushing, we were able to open a big gap on the third place, that was Patrick Carpentier. And after like 10 laps, whatever, 12 laps, I said, "Now it's time to push a little bit." I start to run 62's. I felt I was lapping 2/10ths faster than Tracy for four or five laps in a row. I was already two and a half seconds in front of him and I was feeling pretty good. I think I had a small flat spot on the tire, I had a little bit understeer on the corner, but the car still handled well, and I was feeling really confident. When the team told me that I had to let Tracy by, I couldn't believe it. That has never happened in my racing career. I felt a mix of emotions. And I think when something like this happen, you have two things that can happen. Most often, you get very angry. And this time I didn't get angry, I just got really disappointed. I tried to control myself not to get angry. After turn five, when I let Tracy by, I couldn't believe it. It was a strange feeling. I lost completely the concentration. I was lapping half a second slower. Tracy pulled away from me - not because he was faster, just because I was slower. I couldn't get back to a rhythm.

"Then we came to the pit stop and the guys told me, "We'll have to see what will happen." I stalled in the pits and then I lost some positions again and went down to fourth. Then we did a good pit stop, and I passed Sebastien on cold tires and moved up to second again. Then I just keep a good distance from Sebastien because I knew that he would pit two laps later. I kept like five seconds ahead of him after doing a good out-lap. I beat him out of the pits easy on the last pit stop. It was just a matter to finish the race in second place. You know, I think you always want to win, but today Tracy was strong. I think I was strong as well. But in the end, I think track position makes a difference -- who is in the front is going to win. After I have to let him by, I just fell off a little bit. I think halfway through the race, I got my focus back. I mean, when I let Tracy pass, it was like five or six laps before the pit stop. I just felt down. I lost the concentration, let him go by, take off from me. It was a strange feeling, I tell you. It was really strange. I hope that doesn't happen anymore."

- Lilly driver Sebastien Bourdais moved up one position to fourth place in the CART Champ Car point standings after he finished third in the 100-lap Molson Indy Vancouver despite contact on the opening lap with Roberto Moreno that led to three extra pit stops. It was his fourth podium finish of the season and his first time on the podium for a finish other a win.

After the race began under caution for the removal of Geoff Boss and Gualter Salles's cars that had crashed on the pace laps, the green flag flew on Lap 4. Bourdais started in fifth place and moved to the inside line heading into Turn 1 alongside third place starter Roberto Moreno heading into the right hander and was able to move ahead of him as well as fourth place starter Michel Jourdain. Unfortunately during this, Bourdais and Moreno made contact with Moreno unable to continue. The contact broke the valve stem on Bourdais left front tire, which began to deflate. During the caution flag to remove Moreno's car as well as those of Tiago Monteiro and Oriol Servia who also collided later in the lap, Bourdais made his first stop on Lap 4 to replace his tires. He returned to the track but slid into the stalled cars of Monteiro and Servia after he drove around the blind corner where they were stopped. Once he resumed without damage he was immediately called back in to replace his tires for ones with different pressure. He made his third stop on Lap 6 as he had nothing to lose since he was at the back of the field and this would enable him to continue on track longer than the frontrunners due to CART's mandatory stop each 30 laps. He returned to the track in 11th place and held the position until the majority of the field made their first stop on Lap 30 and he moved up to seventh on Lap 30 and fourth on Lap 31. Right before he was scheduled to make his stop, a yellow flag came out on Lap 32 for contact between the lapped car of Tiago Monteiro and Alex Tagliani who returned to the track on cold tires. Bourdais made his fourth stop on Lap 32 and returned to the race in sixth place. A few laps later, he dove inside Darren Manning in Turn 1 on the restart and took over fifth place. He held the position until the others made their second stops on Lap 60 and ran as fast as he could with hot tires and a light fuel load to gain track position before his next stop. He was in second place on Lap 60 and took over the lead on Lap 61 which he held through 62 when he made his fifth stop and returned to the track in third place behind Junqueira. The crew encouraged him to maintain a close gap to his teammate in order to be able to attempt to gain enough track position once the field made their final stops to take over second place. Like Tracy and Junqueira he would have to navigate many slower lapped cars to keep this margin. As Tracy and Junqueira entered the pits for their final stop on Lap 90 of 100, Bourdais struggled with traffic and was unable to make up much ground before Tracy reentered the track immediately in front of him on a slightly slower pace due to being on cold tires and a heavier fuel load. Bourdais made his sixth and final stop on Lap 91 and returned to the track in third place. On Lap 98 of 100 he set the fastest lap of the event en route to the checkered flag after 100 laps. He collected 14 points for his fourth podium finish of the season for a total of 100 after 11 of 19 events. Following are his post race comments:

"It feels pretty good to finish third after the difficult race," said Bourdais who did celebratory donuts like winner Paul Tracy. "I felt a bit sorry on what happened the first lap, because I didn't really want to put anybody out of the track. But I was right at the inside. I think we were three side-by-side with (Roberto) Moreno and somebody else I cannot say who though. I did a great start, then I was side by side with Bobby (Moreno). Obviously, he didn't see me. He turned, I had no room to go and we touched each other. Then the whole wheel fall apart, and I had to pit. Coming out of the pits, I didn't see any yellows to be very honest, then there was two cars right in the middle of the track. I locked all four wheels and went straight into the guys. Lucky for me, there was no marshal there. Again, sorry for them if I just scared someone.

"Then the start of the race was pretty bad, and I thought it was going to be a very long, long, long afternoon for me. The guys just told me, "Stay there, we have a shot. We're going to be shifted on the pit window, and we still have a chance if we're quick." Obviously, we were really quick this afternoon. I really have to thank this Lilly crew #2 because they did a great job. I think it's not the first time of the season, but definitely we had a great car this weekend. Just a shame we didn't start in a bit better shape. But we went through the entire race and made big progress, finished third. I think it's a pretty good result. The timing of the yellows really helped us today also."

- Next Up...The Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford will reconvene next weekend for the Mario Andretti Grand Prix of Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. Bruno Junqueira won his first Champ Car event at the track in his rookie season in 2001. After running 1-2 at the test Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais hope to add to NHR's total of eight wins, five poles and 15 podiums in their 20 previous races there. Mario Andretti drove to victory from pole there in 1983 and earned the team the first of their 71 wins. NHR has won more races on this track than any other on the CART schedule.

-nhr-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Gualter Salles , Bruno Junqueira , Roberto Moreno , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Mario Andretti , Tiago Monteiro , Sébastien Bourdais , Geoff Boss , Michel Jourdain