Denver: Junqueira claims victory

Bruno Junqueira converted pole position into victory in the Champ Car World Series race on the streets of Denver, leading home team-mate Sebastien Bourdais to claim a dream result for the Newman/Haas team in it's 350th CART race.

Denver: Junqueira claims victory

Oriol Servia was the only man who could keep in touch with the Newman/Haas duo, but he finished some 12 seconds back in third place after fighting off CART championship leader Paul Tracy through the final stint.

Junqueira led the first 32 laps, but Patrick Racing short-fuelled Servia to help their man edge the Brazilian out of the pits. For the next round of pit stops, under yellow on Lap 62 for Patrick Carpentier's crash, Newman/Haas returned the favour, getting Junqueira back on the track first while Bourdais exited ahead of Servia.

The Catalonian faded during the third stint, dropping 13 seconds behind leader Junqueira. Bourdais kept his team leader in sight, but the order didn't change during the final round of stops on Lap 80 despite the field being bunched under yellow.

The story remained the same through the final 22 laps after the Lap 85 restart. Bourdais kept the pressure on Junqueira but couldn't nip past, while Servia had his hands full with Tracy. Bruno suffered one scare, brushing the Turn 1 wall on Lap 90.

"I really like Denver," said Junqueira, who also triumphed at the street circuit last year. "It was a difficult race and I had to pace myself and be very patient, especially when I was behind Oriol. The three of us were very closely matched.

"At the end, I was trying to pull away from Sebastien and I touched the wall," he added. "That wasn't very nice, but I knew that if I did Turn 3 and 4 well that Sebastien would not be able to pass me."

"I was for sure not going to try anything silly on Bruno," Bourdais remarked. "He's my team-mate and he's fighting for a championship. So I wanted to help him win if possible."

Servia noted that the Newman/Haas cars maintained their pace in the second half of the race whereas he and the rest of the field tailed off. "It was slippery at the end but they kept going faster," he said. "I'm actually happier finishing third this week than I was for finishing second at Montreal. But we had a problem with a wheel gun on the second stop and after that there was nothing I could do."

Tracy drove with restraint and minimized the damage to his championship lead, which Junqueira cut from 28 to 18 at Denver. A spin in final qualifying left the Canadian ninth on the grid, but he made three places on the first green-flag lap, inherited another when his team-mate Carpentier crashed, and the team got him out ahead of Adrian Fernandez during the final round of stops.

"I passed a few cars at the start, but after that it was impossible to pass," Tracy said. "We will have to rebound by improving our qualifying. That's especially true for Miami."

Adrian Fernandez was fifth ahead of Michel Jourdain. Making his first Champ Car start for PK Racing, Mika Salo looked set for a top-ten finish before a clash with Tiago Monteiro eliminated him in the late stages.

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