Denver: No stopping Junqueira

Sunday's Champ Car round on the Denver street course defied expectations by turning out to be a clean race with low attrition. But nothing stood in the way of Bruno Junqueira, who led all 100 laps from pole position to notch his second win of the season.

Denver: No stopping Junqueira

The Brazilian moved into second place in the CART season standings, 52 points behind Cristiano da Matta, who finished third on Sunday behind Scott Dixon. Dario Franchitti is now third in the standings, 69 points behind da Matta after being knocked out on the first lap by his team-mate Paul Tracy.

Junqueira was essentially unchallenged throughout the race until the sole full course yellow flew on Lap 88 when Tora Takagi and Mario Dominguez clashed and stalled at the hairpin. That wiped out Bruno's nine-second lead and set up an eight-lap shootout to the end.

Junqueira pulled out a small margin when the race went green, but he got into the marbles in Turn 1 next time around, allowing Dixon to close. But the New Zealander chose not to mount an attack on his Ganassi Racing team-mate, perhaps mindful of the first-lap collision between the Team Green drivers on the first lap.

"This result started in qualifying," remarked Junqueira. "We worked very hard to get a consistent car for the race. I was able to pull out a gap to Adrian [Fernandez, who finished fourth] and then I slowed down to try to save the engine, the brakes and the tyres. It was really difficult to keep concentration and not make a mistake."

Fernandez started from the front row, but he wasn't as quick as Junqueira and he had dropped six seconds back by the first round of pit stops on Lap 32. By the time Fernandez pitted again on Lap 62, Bruno's lead was up to 12 seconds over a pack that included Dixon, Shinji Nakano, Christian Fittipaldi and da Matta.

Nakano was eliminated a couple of laps later when the leaders stopped in sequence thanks to a broken selector rod in his Lola-Honda's gearbox. That left Junqueira with a seven-second lead, which he maintained until the late race full-course yellow.

Fittipaldi struggled with a broken rear airjack on his Lola-Toyota throughout the race, and he lost two positions to da Matta and Fernandez on his final stop to wind up fifth. Tony Kanaan finished sixth ahead of Kenny Brack and Tracy.

"The team told me on the radio that Scott got by Adrian, so I did a few fast laps," Bruno said. "I had a good restart, but I made a mistake on the next lap and Scott closed up. From there, I concentrated on being fast in Turn 4 because I knew the only place Scott could pass was Turn 5."

Dixon said that he decided not to force the issue. "One of the Player's cars [Alex Tagliani] could have gotten out of the way a little quicker after the restart, but with where Bruno is in the championship, it was important for him to get the extra points."

Da Matta was pleased to make the podium after qualifying seventh - his worst starting position of the season.

The Champ Car series has a week off before travelling to England for the Rockingham 500 on September 14. Junqueira will start out as the favourite based on his dominant form the last time CART raced on a 1.5-mile oval, at Motegi, Japan in May.

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