26 June 2006
Allmendinger wins crazy race in Cleveland.
Somehow Tracy was able to land without major damage and continue in the top five while Junqueira was also able to stay on the lead lap, despite having to pit for a new rear wing.
With the front of the grid self destructing, fourth place starter Oriol Servia led up to the first round of pit stops, turning the lead over to Junqueira after making his first stop. Junqueira and the recovering Allmendinger went back-and-forth for the next few laps in a battle for the lead with Allmendinger eventually making a tough pass in turn nine to take the point.
In clear air at the head of the field Allmendinger was at his best putting more than a second per lap on the field, building a 10-second advantage in just six laps, but the lead evaporated quickly as a Tonis Kasemets spin brought out the yellow flag.
Tagliani and Nelson Philippe chose not to pit during the caution, putting yet another pit strategy into play, as the rest of the field chased from behind. Tagliani held Philippe off for all but one of the 16 laps needed to get to the next pit stop, before both drivers pitted, ceding the lead back to Allmendinger.
Forsythe Racing's newest darling again took the opportunity to stretch his legs, building a six-second lead in just five laps, but the yellow flag soon snatched the lead from the young American yet again as Ranger spun and stalled. Junqueira inherited the lead with Dan Clarke running a tight second as Allmendinger tried to wade back through the field. Philippe retook the lead when the two front-runners pitted on lap 72, and lasted six laps before he coasted to a stop on the back straight.
Even though his chances of victory were over, a small ray of fortune smiled on Philippe when Justin Wilson suffered a suspension failure turn six, hitting the concrete wall and bringing out the last caution flag of the day.
Allmendinger led on the restart, ahead of Dale Coyne Racing's Mario Dominguez who had battled his way from 17th on the grid to run second, while Clarke worked his way into third. With all the fighting going on behind him, Allmendinger was able to pull away and run the final few laps without a threat from behind.
“I got to thank the whole Forsythe team, everyone that was a part of it,” beamed Allmendinger. “They gave me absolutely a fantastic race car throughout the weekend. I thought last week's car in Portland was really good. This one topped that one. I tried to do as much as I could to not get the victory because I spun out in turn two. More than anything, I just kind of, I threw it away and spun out.”
The battle for the podium was the fiercest on the track in the last few laps as Dominguez had Dale Coyne's best ever Champ Car finish in his sights. Clarke however, had a ace in the hole, having 25 seconds more Cosworth Power-To-Pass at his disposal than did Dominguez. Clarke used that extra horsepower on the front straight heading to the final lap of the race, getting a run to the inside of Dominguez heading into the first turn.
Clarke made the pass and went wide, while the veteran Dominguez cut short and tried to beat Clarke up the inside heading to turn two. Trying to hold off Dominguez, Clarke got back on the throttle and spun, clipping the Dominguez car and taking them both out of the event.
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