Crash.Net IndyCar News
Tracy's Mid Ohio maximum
10 August 2003
Paul Tracy led 69 of 92 laps to win Sunday's Grand Prix of Mid Ohio and complete a perfect weekend for the Player's/Forsythe Racing driver who, in the process, turned a three point Championship deficit into a 20 point lead.
Tracy's title cause was aided by erstwhile points leader Bruno Junqueira finishing two laps down in 13th place, a legacy of an early race clash with Patrick Racing's Oriol Servia.
Defending Mid Ohio winner Patrick Carpentier finished second to his teammate, just six tenths of a second behind by the time the chequered flag fell partly thanks to a caution flag that bunched the field for a lap 87 restart and partly thanks to a fired up final few laps that saw the two Canadian's push each other all the way.
Tracy aside, the star of the race and arguably the weekend as a whole was rookie Ryan Hunter-Reay, who finished a career best third for the fledgling American Spirit Team Johansson outfit. The young American became the first driver to put the outdated Reynard chassis on the podium in 2003 after a mature, aggressive performance from the outside of the front row.
Stefan Johansson was just ten laps away from getting two cars into the top five as the team's other driver, veteran Jimmy Vasser, put on one of the overtaking displays of the season from 14th on the grid, moving onto Hunter-Reay's rear spoiler before a devastating spin on lap 82 that brought his fine charge to an end.
Team Rahal's Michel Jourdain Jr took advantage of Vasser's demise to claim a distant fourth place while Junqueira's Newman-Haas Racing teammate Sebastien Bourdais rounded out the top five.
Rocketsports Racing's Alex Tagliani came home in sixth position, yards ahead of Adrian Fernandez, whose alternative early race fuel strategy led to him leading 13 laps.
Briton Darren Manning never found the sweet spot in his Walker Racing Reynard but still recorded a top eight finish in eighth place while Max Papis and Mario Haberfeld rounded out the top ten.
Tiago Monteiro had another eventful day in the Fittipaldi-Dingman Racing Reynard, leading ten laps thanks to his alternative fuel strategy and holding off Paul Tracy fair and square before he incurred the wrath of the CART stewards for blocking and had to serve a costly stop/go penalty.
Rodolfo Lavin completed the points scorers with Junqueira and Geoff Boss the only other finishers.
With six races remaining in this year's title chase, Tracy now leads Junqueira by 20 points courtesy of his sixth win of the season with Jourdain Jr a further 22 markers behind in third place and Bourdais fourth, nearly 60 behind the outright lead.