Paul Tracy looks to claim back-to-back wins in his native country as points leader heads charge to Molson Indy Vancouver. INDIANAPOLIS (July 22, 2003) -- A muddled European swing took some of the glitter off of the monstrous start to the ...
Paul Tracy looks to claim back-to-back wins in his native country as points leader heads charge to Molson Indy Vancouver.
INDIANAPOLIS (July 22, 2003) -- A muddled European swing took some of the glitter off of the monstrous start to the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford schedule for Paul Tracy (#3 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), as his large series lead evaporated under the lights of the Milwaukee Mile.
Undaunted, Tracy simply pulled his belts a litter tighter and went back to work, earning four consecutive podiums including a wildly-popular victory at the Molson Indy Toronto and now has reclaimed his lofty perch atop the CART Champ Car World Series standings. The Ontario, Canada native has turned up the heat in the search for his first career CART Champ Car title and has crafted a 15-point lead heading into this weekend's 100-lap battle on the streets of Vancouver's Concord Pacific Place.
The Molson Indy Vancouver is also no stranger to a Paul Tracy victory as the series leader became the first Canadian driver to ever win the event when he took the checkered flag there in 2000. The Vancouver layout was not one that Tracy took to immediately as he scored just one points-paying finish in his first six trips, but since then he has captured two poles and two podium finishes in the last three Vancouver events.
Tracy's resurgence has dropped Bruno Junqueira (#1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Newman/Haas Racing 15 points behind the leader despite the fact that the Brazilian has not finished lower than fourth in each of the last four races. In fact, his opening-lap crash at Milwaukee resulted in his only finish outside of the top five through the first 10 races of the season, but Tracy's season has been such that Junqueira is still 15 markers back.
Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Team Rahal got back on pace in Toronto after a pair of early-race spins had cost him chances at victory. The Mexican started third and would come home second to earn his fifth podium of the season and heads to a Vancouver layout where he has found to his liking in the last few seasons. Jourdain earned his first-ever CART Champ Car top-10 finish with a 10th-place run there in 1998, and while has never qualified any better than 15th there in seven starts, he has placed fourth and sixth respectively in the last two seasons. He will need another comparable finish to stay within reach of the rampaging Tracy, who paces Jourdain by 26 points.
Coming off of his best showing in over three months, Roberto Moreno (#4 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will have special motivation heading into Vancouver, as he returns to the site of his 2001 win. Moreno came from seventh on the starting grid to take his second career victory in the 2001 event, and comes off a Toronto race two weeks ago that saw him run his best qualifying effort of the 2003 season and earn a sixth-place finish.
Spaniard Oriol Servia (#20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) is another driver that is posting career-best numbers, but is still 63 points in arrears to Tracy. In any of the last four seasons, Servia's 76 points and his string of seven consecutive top-six finishes would have him in the top three of the standings. As it stands now, the 29-year-old driver has tied a team record set by Gordon Johncock with his string of top sixes and will be looking to make it eight on a track where he came from 22nd on the grid to place fifth in 2001.
The expected large crowds will be following Tracy's every move as well as his Player's stablemates Patrick Carpentier (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Alex Tagliani (#33 Johnson Controls Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). Both have had moments of glory in Vancouver but are yet to taste victory champagne. Tagliani earned one of his four career poles in Vancouver in 2001 and led the first 68 laps of the day before a transmission failure killed any chance of his first win. Carpentier started in the front row alongside Tagliani on the day but finished 16th. He knows the way to the podium in Vancouver however, having climbed from 11th place to run second to Juan Montoya in 1999.
Jimmy Vasser (#12 American Spirit Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) has a pair of Vancouver podiums on his racing resume, running third there in '99 and finishing second to Mauricio Gugelmin in '97. The 1996 series champion has qualified in the top 10 in his last five CART Champ Car starts, and has been running at the end of all but one of his starts, but has gone scoreless in each of the last two races. His teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay (#31 American Spirit Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) has scored in his last two starts but has not raced in Vancouver since placing third there during a Barber Dodge Pro Series event in 2001.
The top-scoring Reynard runner this year is the series' second-place rookie, Darren Manning (#15 RAC/Walker Racing Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone). Manning has put a trio of top-10 finishes together in the last three events and finds himself 10th in the standings with 50 points. He continues to chase Sebastien Bourdais (#2 Lilly Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) in the rookie standings as Bourdais keeps rolling after his Cleveland win. The Frenchman leads the first-year driver standings with 86 points, a total that has him in fifth place in the overall standings.
Another of the quintet of 2003 winners heads to Vancouver looking to erase past history and make his move in the title chase. Owner/driver Adrian Fernandez (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) has scored just six points since his Portland win and pulls into Vancouver never having qualified higher than 10th on the tight street course. He has had better success on race day however, placing third in 2000 after starting 15th.
His countryman Mario Dominguez (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) earned a top-10 in his first and only Vancouver run last season and will be looking to return to form after a 12th-place finish in Toronto. Dominguez is having a strong sophomore season in the Champ Cars and is currently just seven points behind Fernandez and in eighth in the overall point standings.
Tiago Monteiro (#7 Fittipaldi-Dingman Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) showed no ill effects from the mild concussion that kept him out of the Cleveland event and captured his fourth top-10 placing of the year with a 10th-place run in Toronto. The Portuguese pilot is fourth in the Rookie-of-the-Year standings and has failed to finish only two of his nine starts.
Dale Coyne Racing will have Gualter Salles (#19 Alpina Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) back in the saddle for Vancouver after the Brazilian missed Toronto due to a prior racing commitment. Salles is still searching for his first point of the year as is his teammate Geoff Boss (#11 Cross Pens Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), but Salles can draw on the experience of a previous Vancouver start as he competed in the 1997 race where he would finish 26th.
The Molson Indy Vancouver will take place over three days from July 25-27 with qualifying sessions run on the first two days. SPEED Channel will cover final-round qualifying on Saturday with same-day coverage of Sunday's race coming at 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The CART Champ Car Ladder System will also be grooming the series' future stars in Vancouver as the Barber Dodge Pro Series will be on hand.