Sunday, July 09, 2006

Pinch Me - 3 In-A-Row For AJ Allmendinger!

One happy dude. Beyond fairytale endings to destiny. Image Credit: LAT Photographic

Like the lyric in the song made famous by Canada's Bare Naked Ladies - pinch me, I must be asleep.

AJ Allmendinger becomes the first driver to capture three in-a-row wins in races in twelve years when Al Unser Jr. did it back in 1994!

AJ's team-mate, Paul Tracy, muscles his way past Bourdais to take and keep second place for a Forsythe Championship Racing One-Two finish.

The win moves AJ up from 3ird in points for the season to 2nd (168), 23 points behind Newman/Haas Racing's Sebastian Bourdais (191) with eight races to go.

Photo by Paul Webb, USA LAT Photographic - Copyright © 2006 Champ Car World Series, LLC.

Excerpts from AP via Yahoo! Sports -

Allmendinger wins third straight Champ Car race
By MIKE HARRIS, AP Auto Racing Writer - July 9, 2006

TORONTO (AP) -- The whole scene felt just a little too familiar to A.J. Allmendinger. Fortunately for the only American-born driver in the Champ Car World Series, it didn't turn out that way -- and he captured his third race win in a row.

Headed for an easy victory Sunday at the Molson Grand Prix of Toronto, a late caution flag bunched the leaders and gave teammate Paul Tracy and series leader Sebastien Bourdais one last shot at Allmendinger

Almost exactly a year ago, in Edmonton, Allmendinger was on his way to a win when a late caution waved. Then-teammate Justin Wilson, right behind Allmendinger, crashed on the restart, but Allmendinger also made a mistake on the slick track and hit the wall with eight laps to go, giving Bourdais an unlikely win.

Asked what was going through his mind when Nelson Philippe and Oriol Servia crashed with 10 laps to go on Sunday, bringing out the third yellow flag of the race, Allmendinger gritted his teeth and replied: ``Edmonton, last year.''

"It's a lot of confidence and it's nice to be in this car,'' said the 2004 rookie of the year, who didn't win until the third year -- and 32nd race -- of his Champ Car career.

"I love Champ Car racing and I'm starting to love winning,'' Allmendinger said.

It took getting fired by RuSport last month after a fourth-place finish at Milwaukee and being hired a few days later by Gerald Forsythe's team to get the 24-year-old Californian to the victory podium.

Since he replaced Mario Dominguez in the No. 7 Lola, Allmendinger has been unbeatable.

"If somebody had asked me heading to Portland for my first race with Forsythe if I could win three in a row, I'd have said no,'' Allmendinger said. "But, after the first practice, feeling the energy of the team, seeing how well they work together and knowing how comfortable I felt in the car right away, it's no surprise.

"The team and my whole engineering staff has been absolutely awesome,'' he added. "They seem to hit the car perfect when it counts.''

Tracy, a former series champion who has struggled this year, had a shot at winning his third Toronto race after the Philippe-Servia crash late in the 86-lap event on the 1.755-mile temporary street circuit.

The local favorite -- from suburban Toronto -- was behind Allmendinger on the restart on lap 83, but couldn't get close enough at the end to make it a race. The winningest driver in the series -- with 30 victories -- wound up a distant 1.851 seconds -- nearly the entire final straightaway -- behind his new teammate.

The Champ Car series gives the drivers a limited amount of extra turbocharger power, called push-to-pass, for each race. Tracy said he had used up the extra boost in getting past the other contenders, while Allmendinger was able to conserve his.

"Obviously, coming home 1-2 was the best we could do,'' said Tracy, who had only his second podium finish in the first seven races this season. "When it came down to the end, he had more push-to-pass and I couldn't really make it competitive. But my state of mind and spirits are up, and I can build on this.''

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