Sebastien Bourdais brought to an end one of American motorsport's longest 'losing' streaks by giving Newman/Haas Racing its first Long Beach race win in 18 years with a measured victory over polesitter Paul Tracy.

The Frenchman triumphed by four seconds over the Canadian, despite Tracy having fitted the softer 'optional' tyre for his final stint. The Newman/Haas driver had made his run on the supposedly quicker rubber work to his advantage by pulling out a sizeable gap in the middle of the race, but was expected to have to fend Tracy off in the closing stages, particularly after the field had been bunched up by a late race yellow.

Starting from his record-setting pole, Tracy made no mistake at the green flag, almost certainly repeating his 2004 tactic of using the 'push-to-pass' system to ensure he made it to turn one in front. New team-mate Mario Dominguez appeared to have done the same, challenging Bruno Junqueira into the opening corner, but finding himself rebuffed by the Brazilian. As it was, the entire field made it through unscathed, with Justin Wilson the only frontrunner to make a move, passing Bourdais further into the lap.

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The Frenchman wasted little time in reasserting himself in fourth spot, but the early going was all about Tracy and Junqueira. The Canadian appeared to be easing away out front, but a mistake on lap four presented Junqueira with a rare opportunity to sneak through, and the Brazilian didn't pass it up.

With Dominguez and Bourdais too far back to also take advantage, Tracy was able to resume in second, and didn't have long to wait before the chance arose to retake the lead. Instead of relying on his own ability, however, Tracy was presented with the opportunity when Mi-Jack Conquest team-mates Andrew Ranger and Nelson Philippe - the youngest pairing in Champ Cars - made minor contact as the 18-year old Canadian shaped to pass his similarly-aged French colleague. Philippe ended up in the wall sans rear wing, bringing out the first of the afternoon's four yellows.

While a couple of midfielders, Ranger included, opted to pit under the caution, Tracy merely closed up on Junqueira, bolting past the Brazilian when the green flag flew again on lap eleven. A string of fastest laps then allowed the Forsythe Racing car to eke out a slim advantage over his pursuer ahead of the first round of regular pit-stops, all of which were taken under green flag conditions.

Tracy and Junqueira pitted together on lap 29, but the NHR team allowed Bourdais to remain on track for a further couple of laps, enough to move the Frenchman up the order. Bourdais almost benefited from yellow flag conditions, as rookie Fabrizio del Monte spun and stalled, but his team opted not to tempt fate and called him in on schedule for fuel and tyres.

The resumption of hostilities found veteran Jimmy Vasser out front, the consequence of an early out-of-sequence fuel stop, ahead of Tracy, who only narrowly avoided falling behind Bourdais as the Frenchman emerged from his late stop. Ranger, on the same sequence as Vasser split the two Newman/Haas cars, with Dominguez holding off Wilson in a temporary sixth spot.

Despite Vasser running considerably lighter than those behind him, Tracy and Bourdais made short work of passing the PKV car but, when the Canadian was inadvertently baulked by a backmarker as he passed the flagstand, Bourdais didn't hesitate in putting a run on him. NHR passing Forsythe suddenly appeared in vogue, as Junqueira dropped Dominguez to sixth, but Bourdais clearly had the hammer down, the only driver lapping in 1min 9secs as he stretched away from the chasing pack.

The Frenchman's getaway was briefly interrupted while Ricardo Sperafico's stranded car was cleared away, setting up a nervy final pit-stop for all the leading contenders. Bourdais, Tracy and Dominguez all stopped together, one lap after Junqueira, and again it was the NHR crew that proved most adept at turning their man around, the red-and-yellow McDonalds Lola emerging ahead of the blue-and-white Forsythe twins.

They key now was tyres, and both Tracy and Dominguez resumed with the distinctive red-marked 'option' fitted. Far from giving them an edge, however, the pair found that Bourdais was still able to lap faster than them, despite running on the harder regular compound.

Further down the field, the rookie battled see-sawed between a handful of contenders, with F1 refugee Timo Glock starting highest and holding the class lead for much of the event. Out-of-sequence pit-stops gave the teenage Ranger a taste of running out front, while Dane Ronnie Bremer also had his moment in the limelight, leading outright for a couple of laps while the likes of Bourdais and Tracy pitted for the final time.

In the end, however, the order showed few changes from qualifying, meaning that Glock was restored to the head of the rookie crop, running in sixth overall. Bremer wasn't far behind his fellow European, though, crossing the line less than half a second adrift, with HVM team-mate Bjorn Wirdheim third in class, albeit a long way back in twelfth overall.

That left the Swede, the 2003 F3000 champion, behind both PKV cars - with Vasser beating much-hyped returnee Cristiano da Matta - and the second RuSPORT entry of AJ Allmendinger. The reigning rookie champion was never in the mix, running, like da Matta, outside the top ten for much of the event before breaking into the top half of the field at the last gasp.

The Team Australia challenge faded along with Alex Tagliani, the Canadian eventually finishing behind rookie team-mate Marcus Marshall, both men a lap down, while Ryan Hunter-Reay, who replaced Tagliani in the Rocketsports line-up could do no better than an anonymous 13th. del Monte soldiered on for the final finishing spot, seven laps adrift after his spin and a lengthy pit-stop, while Philippe rejoined for an extended test session, eventually coming home 20 laps back of he leaders.

Ranger, too, joined the list of retirees, his second brush of the day leaving him in the tyre wall, and setting up an intriguing finish as the yellows flew for the last time. Bourdais had the cushion of one of the Walker-run Team Australia cars between himself and Tracy and, with the yellow-and-green entry not ducking into the pit-lane as requested until the very last minute was able to use a chunk of his P2P allowance to power away at the head of the field.

Tracy, with considerably less 'boost' left in his tank, was unable to do anything about the Frenchman over the remaining five laps, and, instead, came under pressure from both his team-mate and Junqueira before the flag flew. Dominguez's challenge faded rapidly, the Mexican being passed by both BJ and then Wilson in the space of a lap, with Glock and Bremer closing in in search of fifth place points. Bourdais, meanwhile, was more than two seconds up the road within a lap of the green flying, and had doubled that margin by the chequer.

Newman/Haas had not won at Long Beach since Mario Andretti last triumphed there in 1987, and 18-year drought. However, where its latest champion is concerned, it never rains, but it pours....