Sunday, August 13, 2006

Allmendinger Makes It A Hat Trick +1 In Denver

Paul Tracy hitches a ride with AJ Allmendinger following his crash with Sebastien Bourdais that eliminated both of them from a podium finish. Photo Credit: Phillip Abbott, USA LAT Photographic

After wins this season at Portland, Cleveland, and Toronto, AJ Allmendinger takes the win in Denver with very good driving and tactics. The same can not be said for his teammate Paul Tracy.

On the last lap of the race, Sebastien Bourdais with "push-to-pass" left to use, passed Paul Tracy for an apparent second place and points ... Tracy did not let go and crashed into Bourdais knocking out both cars.

AJ, however, gets a big jump in points toward the championship - from 45 points behind to just 32 points with four races left in the season.

Excerpts from Champ Car World Series -

by Eric Mauk - CCWS

Years from now, Champ Car World Series fans are going to look at the box score of today’s Grand Prix of Denver Sponsored by Bridgestone, see A.J. Allmendinger (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) winning by a cavernous 20.588 seconds, and figure that the race was a ho-hum affair.

They couldn’t be further from the truth.

Today’s 97-lap battle on the Denver streets featured more plot twists than a M. Night Shamalyan film, with a climax that was as unexpected as anything Hollywood’s finest film makers could come up with. But while last-lap fireworks wreaked havoc throughout the finishing order, nothing could touch the man at the front as Allmendinger hung a 20-second margin of victory on the field to take his fourth win of the year. The Californian led a race-high 45 laps on his way to the win and vaulted into second place in the championship with four races remaining on the 2006 schedule.

Allmendinger beat Bruno Junqueira (#2 Hole In The Wall Camps Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) to the line to score the win, with Junqueira and CTE Racing – HVM rookie Dan Clarke (#14 CTE Racing – HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) taking the second and third spots on the podium respectively. Junqueira and Clarke appeared content to settle for top-five finishes but were promoted to the podium when Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and points leader Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald’s Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) crashed in the final turn of the final lap as Bourdais tried to pass Tracy for second place. The incident dropped Tracy to sixth and Bourdais to seventh, allowing Allmendinger to slice 12 key points off of Bourdais’ series lead, which stands at 32 of 10 events.

The day started much as it ended, with Tracy and San Jose foe Alex Tagliani (#15 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) tangling in Turn One. Tagliani, starting fifth, came up the inside of Turn One and clipped Tracy’s rear wheel, ending Tagliani’s day with suspension failure and dropping Tracy from fourth to 15th. Bourdais held the lead over Allmendinger and Wilson but all eyes were on the rampaging Tracy, who needed just 10 green-flag laps to climb from 15th to sixth.

Bourdais led the first 20 laps of the day before handing the reins to Junqueira, who was the only driver in the field to run a full stint on his first set of tires. Junqueira paced the next 11 laps before handing things back to Bourdais on Lap 32. But after building a four-second lead on the first stint, the second showed that the winds of change were blowing. Allmendinger used three quick laps to erase Bourdais’ lead, closing on his rear wing just before the second and last caution flag flew for a much-needed track cleaning.

Allmendinger chased Bourdais around the 1.657-mile Denver street course for the next nine laps after the restart, closing in and making the pass on the inside of Turn One on Lap 48. Meanwhile, Tracy completed his charge from the back of the field, setting his sights on Bourdais after slipping by Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) for third. Tracy tried to get Bourdais for second and ran a bit wide, not only failing to complete the pass but also allowing Wilson to re-take the third spot. Allmendinger took full advantage of the wars being waged behind him to build a nine-second lead, setting the stage for the final third of the race.

Suffering a fuel pickup problem, Tracy fought gamely to hold on to the second spot while Bourdais closed on the Canadian. Tracy held him off until the final lap, when Bourdais tried to go on the outside of Tracy in the final two turns. Tracy slid to the right in the middle of Turn Eight and clipped the Frenchman, sending both drivers into a spin and out of the race.

Junqueira and Clarke raced through the carnage to take the podium spots – the first and Clarke’s young career - while Roshfrans Rookie-of-the-Year points leader Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Nelson Philippe (#4 CTE Racing – HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) rounded out the top five.

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