Bourdais wins second straight GP of Denver
DENVER -- Taking turn 4 a little too close during practice, Sebastien Bourdais brushed the wall and nearly crashed.
Paul Tracy wasn't so lucky once the race started.
Bourdais took advantage of a late crash by Tracy on the same corner, then pulled away from the pack to defend his title in the Grand Prix of Denver on Sunday, his third straight victory and fourth of the season.
"Quite honestly, I didn't expect to win the race," said Bourdais, who joined Bruno Junqueira as the only drivers to defend in Denver. "Maybe I would catch him, but so what? And then it got better than that. He made the same mistake that I made, but crashed it. That was the end of the story for him."
Bourdais won last year's race from the back of the pack, winding his way from 13th to first after getting bumped in the first turn. The Frenchman avoided another pileup on the first corner this time, then waited for his chance.
That came on lap 62, when Tracy slammed into a wall after cutting the corner too close. Bourdais moved into the lead after that and was never seriously challenged, finishing 15.27 seconds ahead of Mario Dominguez on the 1.657-mile temporary street course.
A.J. Allmendinger finished third, a big step for the second-year driver after crashing the previous two races.
Bourdais, who won in Edmonton and San Jose the previous two races, celebrated with a few doughnuts in front of the grandstands after increasing his lead over Tracy in the Champ Car series to 53 points with five races left.
Bourdais gave the thumbs-up as he drove in, then waved a checkered flag and pumped his fist in victory lane as his parents, who flew over from France, looked on.
"When I saw P.T. hit the wall, I was very surprised because he makes few mistakes," Bourdais said. "That's not the kind of mistakes he makes when he performs like that. It just emphasizes the point that it's really difficult to have a clear race here. I'm just glad he did."
Tracy had hoped he'd be able to cut in Bourdais' lead after setting track records on both days of qualifying to earn his third pole of the season. Tracy led the race from the start, except during a brief pit stop, and seemed to be in control, his car running almost perfectly.
Then disaster struck.
Coming around turn 4, Tracy was trying to get close enough to lap another car when he brushed the inside wall and knocked his front suspension loose. The impact threw Tracy's car across the track and he slammed straight into a concrete wall, destroying the front end.
Tracy got out of his car and ran across the track away from on-track officials, furious that he cost his team what seemed to be a sure victory.
"The car was great. I just basically just handed the championship to Sebastien," Tracy said. "It's devastating for the whole team. We'll just try to come back next week in Montreal and win there. That's all we can do."
Allmendinger, running third after Tracy's mishap, moved up to second on lap 71 when Dominguez drove off the track at turn 4 and dropped to fourth. Dominguez put it in reverse to get back on the track, then started pouring on the speed.
He turned in the race's fastest lap four laps later, then passed Timo Glock, who was having transmission trouble, for third on lap 87. Dominguez quickly closed the gap on Allmendinger, then passed him on the penultimate lap, diving inside on turn 9 and holding him off down the start/finish straightaway as the white flag waved.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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