Tue, Jul 29, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Paul Tracy takes Vancouver Molson Indy

AUTO RACING Tracy came back from another dispute with CART officials by turning the 100-lap race on the 2.865km downtown street course into a rout

AP , VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA

Paul Tracy gets a push from his pit crew after a pit stop in the Molson Indy in Vancouver, British Columbia, Sunday. Tracy went on to win the race, his second consecutive win.

PHOTO: AP

Nobody complained about Paul Tracy blocking the track in the Vancouver Molson Indy on Sunday. They couldn't get close enough to the runaway winner.

.The victory -- his fifth of the season -- stretched his lead from 15 points to 20 over Bruno Junqueira in Tracy's quest for his first CART championship.

It also stamped the end to a tumultuous weekend for Tracy, sometimes considered CART's "bad boy" but also its current star.

He said he felt "betrayed" by CART over a series of recent calls against him, including Friday when the sanctioning body stripped him of the provisional pole and the championship point that goes with it after Tracy blocked other cars during qualifying.

But Tracy did most of his talk on the track, reclaiming the pole on Saturday. Junqueira, who was awarded the provisional pole and one championship point after Tracy lost it, started next to him on the front row.

Junqueira then took the lead when the green flag came out. He stayed there for 24 laps, but had to give it up when CART ruled Junqueira had jumped the start. He was forced to let Tracy's No. 3 Player's/Forsythe Racing Lola go past.

"Bruno blatantly jumped the start," Tracy said. "I was really mad, but I stayed with him. CART did the right thing because it was very obvious what happened. After I got out front, I was much, much faster than Bruno and I was able to pull away easily."

Junqueira said he was stunned when told to let Tracy take the lead.

"I got a good start and go outside where it's clean and I pass him," the Brazilian driver said. "I'll have to look at the videotape. I was 2 seconds ahead of him and it was a big frustration. I lost concentration."

The only question after that was if Tracy could stay out of the trouble that ambushed a number of drivers on the slick, narrow circuit.

He built leads of nearly 20 seconds and wound up crossing the finish line 17.82 seconds -- nearly a third of the track -- ahead of Junqueira.

It was no problem, though, as the Canadian-born driver -- now a resident of Las Vegas but still a national hero north of the border -- came up with his fifth victory in 11 races this season. He added this one to his win two weeks ago in his hometown of Toronto. He has 24 career victories.

Junqueira finished second and might have made it a little closer had he not stalled his engine on his first of three pit stops.

Rookie Sebastien Bourdais finished third, despite being involved in two early incidents, and Michel Jourdain was fourth, the last car on the lead lap. In fact, fifth-place Darren Manning, another rookie, was two laps down.

It was not a tidy race, with a series of crashes that began even before the green flag waved.

Geoff Boss and Gualter Salles, both driving for Dale Coyne, hit the wall and were out of the race as the 19-car field headed toward the start behind the pace car.

That forced CART to run the first three laps under caution while the crashed cars were taken off the track. When the green flag did finally wave, Bourdais bumped third-place starter Roberto Moreno into the wall, Tiago Monteiro and Oriol Service banged together and Mario Dominguez slid into Monteiro -- all on the fourth lap.

Bourdais then slid into the back of Dominguez under caution the next time around, but was able to continue without serious damage to the front or his car.

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