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Tracy holds off Doornbos for Champ Car win
Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) - Paul Tracy captured Sunday's Grand Prix of Cleveland Champ Car race at the Burke Lakefront Airport. The No.3 Forsythe Championship Racing driver crossed the finish line on fumes just 0.513 seconds ahead of Robert Doornbos.
The victory was Tracy's first of the season and 31st of his Champ Car career.
"The team did a great job and kept me in the race," said Tracy.
The race got underway with Sebastien Bourdais leading the field to the green flag. For a change, just the second time in eight years, all the drivers made it through the first turn without incident.
That calm lasted until lap three when Tracy tried to duck underneath Graham Rahal and the two made contact. Tracy went to the pits for a new nose, but otherwise was ok.
Tracy was involved in a second incident a couple of laps later to bring out a second caution flag. Again, the Canadian needed a new nose, but was still able to race.
"I made a couple of pretty bad mistakes at the start," said Tracy. "We got into Bruno (Junqueira) and Graham (Rahal) and I really thought we were out of it."
The race restarted on lap 11 with Bourdais leading Will Power and Simon Pagenaud.
On lap 15, Power used some of his push-to-pass to close to within two seconds of Bourdais. The gap stayed at about that margin as the pair pulled away from third-place Pagenaud.
Lap 28 and Bourdais made his first scheduled stop of the afternoon. No problems, no changes and he was away, returning to the track in fourth place. Power inherited the lead until he came in one lap later.
Power's stop was better than Bourdais' and he returned to the airport runway in front of Bourdais. They were running third and fourth, respectively, waiting for the two leaders Rahal and Tracy to pit.
By lap 34, both Rahal and Tracy pitted leaving Power and Bourdais to battle for the lead. Power was one and-a-half seconds ahead of the Frenchman.
Jan Heylen and Tristan Gommendy brought out the caution flag when the ran into each other coming to the start/finish line. It took a a while to clean the track and the race restarted on lap 41.
Bourdais immediately challenged Power for the lead, but couldn't get around him. The gap was a little over half-a-second. Lap 50 and he was right on Power's rear bumper.
Bourdais was shadowing Power, but not making any passing attempts. He was waiting for Power to make any kind of mistake.
Another round of pit stops and again Power's crew bested the No.1 Bourdais crew 8.8 seconds to 11.1 seconds. Power's lead over Bourdais was more than 5.5 seconds and he would assume the lead as soon as Tracy made his next stop on lap 63 with 30 minutes to go.
On lap 66, Bourdais pulled his car off the track and the No.4 of Dan Clarke spun off track and stalled. Bourdais was towed to pit road when he couldn't restart it. It seemed to have lost oil pressure which would not allow it to re-fire.
Power and Pagenaud took the opportunity to top off their tanks - they could now finish the race without stopping. Tracy inherited the lead as they went back to green with 16 minutes remaining, but could he make it all the way to the checkered flag? Could Rahal in second or Doornbos in third make it?
Power returned to the track in seventh place with Pagenaud just behind him. Power quickly made his way up the charts. With 15 minutes he was in fifth, just 1.930 seconds behind the leader.
Suddenly Power slowed, on lap 75, a left-front tire went flat and his chance for a win...over.
Tracy held 0.336 seconds on Rahal and 2.686 seconds on Doornbos with 10 minutes on the clock. Tracy was conserving fuel wherever he could, but would it be enough?
He still had a 0.448-second lead on Rahal with six minutes to go.
Rahal pitted with three minutes remaining, he couldn't make it.
Doornbos was faster, but he was still 1.594 seconds back with two minutes, two laps, remaining. The margin was down to 1.021 seconds with one minute on the clock. He was right on his rear bumper heading into turn one on the final lap. Tracy was hanging tough as they turned for home down the final straight and the veteran held off the newcomer for the victory.
"I just tried to drive as hard as I could, I wore the tires out," said Tracy.
The next race is scheduled on Sunday, July 1st for the inaugural St. Jovite Grand Prix.
06/24 15:11:58 ET
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