Bruno Junqueira had kept himself within reach in the hunt for the 2004 Champ Car title despite the fact that he had not won a race and had only led 45 laps of competition through nine races.
The Brazilian took care of a couple of those oversights and thrust himself right into the heart of the title bout Sunday, scoring his first victory of the year as he beat Patrick Carpentier to win the Molson Indy Montreal in front
of a race-day crowd of 53,320.
Junqueira paced the final 25 trips around the 2.709-mile Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve to score the victory, beating the hometown favorite Carpentier by 6.382 seconds. His win, coupled with the early exit by points leader Sebastien Bourdais, took Junqueira to within 34 points of
the championship lead after 10 events.
Bourdais looked like the man to beat early as the polesitter sprinted away at the drop of the flag and led the first 20 laps, keeping the lead through an early restart after Ryan Hunter-Reay crashed in Turn Eight.
The lead then swapped between Bourdais, rookie A.J. Allmendinger and Mario Dominguez for the next 20 laps, Allmendinger's time at the front marking the first time that the 2003 Toyota Atlantic champion had ever led a Champ Car race.
Allmendinger may have had the most eventful race of the season by any competitor, battling back repeatedly after misfortune struck in the first corner. The Californian started on the outside of the front row, but found himself in 18th position after the first lap after contact
with Paul Tracy left Allmendinger with a flat right rear tyre.
He pitted for new Bridgestones on lap two and then stopped again for fuel under the early caution, allowing him to take the point when the leaders stopped on laps 20-21.
He built a 13-second lead before yielding to Dominguez, whose next trip down pit lane would effectively end his chances at winning the race. He carried a two-second lead over Bourdais to his pit but would spend the next 30 seconds waiting for service as a malfunctioning air gun
prevented the team from changing the right front tyre.
Bourdais held the lead for the next six laps before he would need fuel service, promoting Allmendinger back to the front on lap 42.