Mid-Ohio: Tracy bounces back

The Champ Car title chase reverted right back to where it was two weeks ago thanks to Paul Tracy's dominant victory at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. After watching Bruno Junqueira erase a 20-point deficit to take the lead by winning last week at Road America, Tracy turned the tables at Mid-Ohio by leading 69 of 92 laps to lead home Patrick Carpentier in the first-ever 1-2 finish for Forsythe Racing

Mid-Ohio: Tracy bounces back

Junqueira, meanwhile, had a much less happy afternoon. The Brazilian was the victim of an optimistic passing attempt by Oriol Servia at the Keyhole hairpin that put him two laps down and led to a 13th place finish, one position out of the points. That puts Tracy 20 points ahead again after 14 of 19 races.

"I had a long talk with (engineer) Tony Cicale coming into this weekend," Tracy related after earning a career-best sixth win of the season. "He told me that there's no way we can win the championship at Mid-Ohio, but we could lose the championship if we have a bad race there.

"It feels great because I've finished second here four times," he added. "I've been the bridesmaid a lot, but never made it to the top of the podium until today."

Carpentier and rookie Ryan Hunter-Reay kept Tracy honest throughout the afternoon. Paul took the lead from pole position from Hunter-Reay, but the first caution of the day came out on Lap 13 when Servia and Junqueira had their altercation.

"You have to take advantage of any opportunity, especially at Mid-Ohio," Servia explained. "Bruno had a bad exit from Turn 1 and I had a good run on him. He was playing a little and then when I was committed he closed the door on me."

Responded Junqueira: "He just hit me. He wasn't even side-by-side and then he hit my rear tyre. It's very frustrating and it was too early in the race for him to try something like that."

Tracy held the lead through the first round of pit stops on Lap 24, but Team Rahal got Michel Jourdain out of the pits ahead of Hunter-Reay, Sebastien Bourdais and Carpentier. The big mover was Jimmy Vasser, who had advanced to seventh from 14th on the grid in the first 24 laps. During the second stint, the American outbraked Alex Tagliani, Bourdais and Jourdain, all into the Esses.

Tracy had a 10-second lead prior to the second round of stops on Lap 48, but he came out behind the out-of-sequence Tiago Monteiro, who had been delayed by a first lap puncture. Monteiro led laps 49-58 for the Fittipaldi-Dingman team, and by the time Tracy got in the clear his lead had been slashed to 3 seconds.

"Monteiro passed me when I came out of the pits," Tracy said. "He was on hot tyres and he came up the inside of me all locked up and almost took me out. I wasn't going to take any chances trying to pass him and Pat closed the gap until I pulled out a bit before the last stop."

After the final pit stops on Lap 72, Tracy led Carpentier by four seconds, who in turn led the American Spirit Team Johansson duo of Hunter-Reay and Vasser. The American's eventful weekend came to an end on Lap 84 when he spun off into the Turn 9 tyre wall.

"I saved it the first time but then it came back and it just snapped around on me," Vasser said. "I don't usually make mental mistakes like that, which really pisses me off."

The green flag came out with four laps to go, and Tracy was able to maintain his lead to the end before crossing the line 0.501s ahead of Carpentier. Hunter-Reay finished third, becoming the first American rookie to make the podium at a Champ Car race since Eddie Cheever managed it back in 1990. Jourdain took fourth ahead of Bourdais.

"Paul seems to win everywhere these days, but it's great to finish second in the first 1-2 for the Player's team," said Carpentier. "I really enjoyed my battle with Sebastien and it was just a fantastic day."

Hunter-Reay was the understated star of the weekend after qualifying second and finishing third in the unfashionable Reynard chassis. "Our cars were strong all weekend," he said. "Jimmy had an unfortunate situation in qualifying but he was flying in the race. When he came up behind me, it made me really bear down to match his lap times, which I did."

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