IndyCar » 24 June 2007
Cleveland 2007: Tracy wings it.
Paul Tracy took the use of wings at Burke Lakefront Airport to extremes as he finally returned to the top step of the Champ Car podium in Cleveland.
Exactly two years on from his last win in the series, the Canadian veteran overcame the setback of two front wing changes in the opening eight laps - both the result of errors on his part - to claim an unlikely victory ahead of rookies Robert Doornbos and Neel Jani.
Starting from seventh on the grid, Tracy was naturally keen to make up as much ground as possible in the early laps on the wide open spaces of the Cleveland's airport, but his haste led to clashes with, first, Graham Rahal, that saw both cars spinning and the first of the day's four cautions, and, then, at the restart, Bruno Junqueira, which ended the Brazilian's race and saw Tracy have to pit for a second new nose section under another yellow.
The two stops had, however, allowed the Forsythe crew to keep topping the former series champion's fuel off and this, allied with some canny strategy, saw the Canadian working his way to the front as the race wore on, running out of sequence and catching the remaining cautions at just the right time.
Tracy's success also relied on misadventure and misfortune elsewhere, and it is unlikely that he would have won had the natural frontrunners not run into problems.
Polesitter Sebastien Bourdais led for the opening 27 laps, taking the field up to its first round of pit-stops, but the Frenchman - coming to Cleveland on the back of the three straight wins - lost out to the only other man to win a race this year, Will Power, when the order settled down again. In the interim, Rahal and Tracy both took turns at the front, but it appeared that the race for victory at this stage would be between the Australian and the points leader.
Power led through to the second round of stops, but with Bourdais shadowing his every move, having closed on the Australian under yellow after a nasty-looking incident involving Jan Heylen and Tristan Gommendy.
Although the Frenchman later tried to blame his Belgian rival for the contact, replays clearly showed the PKV car cutting the second part of the final right-left chicane before spearing off right - straight into the luckless Heylen, who was trying to make his way around the errant blue-and-white machine.
The contact was hard, with both cars spinning off onto the infield, fortunately without injury to either driver, but ended a couple of promising runs for the European duo.
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