Tracy committed to CART

Paul Tracy has finally achieved his goal of winning the Champ Car title, but says he will be back to defend his crown next season

Tracy committed to CART

Tracy clinched the 2003 championship with one race remaining, despite finishing out of the points in the series penultimate round at Surfers Paradise, Australia. He started the race with a 28-point edge over Bruno Junqueira and had to wait out a roller-coaster ride to 13th place before he was able to put his hand on the Vanderbilt Cup. Two earlier incidents for which the Canadian was largely not to blame were negated when Junqueira crashed out of the event starting the 37th of 47 laps.

"I'm so excited that I don't know how I feel," said Tracy, who won a series-best seven races in 2003 and won the title in his 13th try. "To some degree it's like a big giant weight that has always been kind of on top of me has been lifted off of me. I can say finally say that I am a champion.

"The way that the race played out today is basically a summary of my whole career - big highs and big lows," he added. "I saw that Bruno had crashed and when they told me on the radio that I was the champion, I cried in my helmet for 20 or 30 seconds. Then we got it together."

Tracy was controversially tapped into the spin on the first green flag lap by pole man Sebastien Bourdais. He had moved from 13th running ninth, with Junqueira leading, when the race was stopped for a 40-minute rain delay after 13 laps.

After six laps behind the Pace Car, the race resumed and Tracy's day got worse. On the damp track, a concertina effect sent the cars of Alex Tagliani and Roberto Moreno into a spin in front of the Player's Lola. Tracy got collected and after attempting to reverse over Darren Manning's car, he clipped Tagliani's car while accelerating away and broke the right rear suspension.

The Canadian lost three laps in the pits while a rear wishbone and pushrod were replaced. Meanwhile, as the track dried, Junqueira's rear tyres went off and he lost the lead. A few laps later, he lost the championship when he planted the Newman/Haas Lola into the Turn 1 wall after losing it under braking.

"Everything I do is always shrouded in controversy," Tracy said. "That's the way the Indy 500 went down last year and the way this went down today is how my whole career has been.

"A lot of guys have won the CART title and left for Formula 1 but I'm too old for that," he added. "I'm looking forward to defending the title - I relish the prospect because I think the CART series is going to come back strongly next year under the new ownership. This championship is something I've been working toward my entire life. Finally I have it, but I'm still motivated and I'm always thinking ahead and what's next."

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