Tue, Jul 15, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Homeboy takes race in Toronto

MOLSON INDY Toronto native Paul Tracy moved to the front of the pack and never looked back, leading every lap while easily beating Michel Jourdain Jr. to the finish

AP , TORONTO

Paul Tracy drives during the Molson Indy in Toronto on Sunday. Tracy scored the sweetest victory of his career leading every lap of the race and winning on his home track for the first time in 10 years.

PHOTO: AP

Paul Tracy ran away with the Molson Indy on the streets of his hometown Sunday, winning in Toronto for the first time in 10 years and widening his lead in the CART series standings.

Tracy had no trouble at all -- at one point building a 59 second lead over the rest of the field. He led every lap while easily beating Michel Jourdain Jr. to the finish line at the winding 2.8km temporary street course at Exhibition Place.

He made a leisurely celebratory lap, waving to his loyal fans, then jumped on top of his car to salute them when he finally came to a stop.

He then fell into the arms of his crew members, who surrounded him to help celebrate Canadian-based sponsor Player's first-ever victory on its home soil. Player's has to leave the CART series later this year because of a ban on tobacco advertising.

"This is a great day for Canada and a great day for Player's and I'm really, really happy," a breathless Tracy said as the crowd roared its approval. "I'm glad all the fans are here and the car was just perfect all day.''

Asked if this was a defining victory of his career, the 34-year-old Tracy didn't hesitate: ``This is the best win of my career and its 10 times better than the first time around.''

Tracy, who scored his only other win at his home track in 1993, then received hugs from his parents and bosses at Player's/Forsythe Racing.

"It's been a long 10 years," his mother, Vivienne, yelled. A day earlier, she guaranteed her son would win the race.

Once on the podium, he appeared to brush away tears as the Canadian National Anthem played. Runner-ups Jourdain and Bruno Junqueira then doused him with champagne.

"I want everybody that's here to party tonight in the streets of Toronto," he said. "Our goal was to win in Canada, it's a great day for all of Canada."

Tracy, finally in position to win his first CART title, won for the fourth time this season and opened a 15-point lead over Junqueira in the standings.

Junqueira, who finished third, came into the weekend only eight points behind. He was in second most of the race, but never came close to challenging Tracy.

"I was really second and I think I didn't have the speed to follow Tracy," Junqueira said. "The last pit stop, I made a mistake and lost position to Michel."

Jourdain, who has had several recent run-ins with Tracy over alleged blocking on the race track, said he was happy his rival was able to win in his hometown.

"Paul was unbelievable, the whole weekend he was perfect," Jourdain said. "I am really jealous of him, someday I would like to win in Mexico City and be like him. He really deserves it and I think it's great."

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