Paul Tracy became the first Canadian driver to win the Molson Indy Vancouver when superior pit-work helped him narrowly beat team-mate Dario Franchitti to the flag.
The Team KOOL Green Reynard-Honda squad held its grip over the rest of the CART field all day in Vancouver to score an utterly dominant one-two in front of a wild Canadian crowd.
With Greg Moore's legacy looming large over the event, it was fitting that the late Vancouver native's best friend on the CART tour, Dario Franchitti, was the recipient of the first Greg Moore memorial award for gaining pole position at the tight 1.8-mile track. The emotion of the event was raised even further when Tracy swept to an immensely popular victory, moving him to within six points of series leader Michael Andretti.
Not even the two Team Penske Reynard-Honda's of Gil De Ferran and Helio Castroneves or the Target/Chip Ganassi Lola-Toyota of Juan Montoya had an answer to the two green and white machines as Franchitti led the pack away from the start to lead the first of 90 laps. Tracy tucked dutifully into second place and allowed Franchitti to pull away into a steady five second lead. In third position, De Ferran remained close to Tracy but was unable to mount a serious challenge on a track where overtaking opportunities are scarce.
Castroneves in the second Marlboro sponsored car held down fourth place but was continuously hassled by Montoya who had the edge over the Brazilian but was unable to make the pass. Time and time again the two would arrive at Turn Six side by side but on each occasion Castroneves clung grimly to the inside line to keep the Colombian behind.
The race was disrupted in the early stages by a series of unnecessary caution periods, almost all of which involved the Player's Forsythe car of Alex Tagliani. The Canadian rookie engaged in some very physical racing with his team-mate Patrick Carpentier in the opening laps, finally pushing Patrick into the tyres at Turn Ten on just the third lap. Mark Blundell also became involved and while Tagliani motored serenely on only to get involved with the Swift of Tarso Marques and the second PacWest machine of Mauricio Gugelmin in Turn Six on lap 14.
Two spins behind the safety car and a reluctance to make way for the leaders also failed to enhance the young driver's popularity and he eventually called it a day citing handling difficulties as the reason for his many indiscretions.
Up at the front there was no stopping Franchitti who was able to hold off the attentions of his team-mate despite all the stoppages. However as the two were making their final stops with some 40 laps to go, Franchitti stalled the engine allowing Tracy to take the advantage. Despite protests from the driver, Team Green orders state that the driver who emerges from the final stops in front is to remain there barring incident. With the Championship table so precariously poised, Dario dutifully followed his team-mate home, keeping within a second of the leader at all times just to prove a point.
The biggest challenge to the Team KOOL green steamroller came from Montoya, who used a short first stop to emerge ahead of Castroneves. When De Ferran stumbled mid race and dropped to the tail of the top ten, Montoya quickly homed in on the two leaders, despite having to make an extra fuel stop. Sadly for the reigning CART Champion, the Toyota's fuel system cried enough as he was making his way in for his final stop and despite having fuel in the tank, Montoya coasted to a halt.