Molson Indy Montreal
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA VAULTS BACK INTO THE HEART OF CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES POINTS RACE BY SCORING FIRST WIN OF THE YEAR AT MOLSON INDY MONTREAL
MONTREAL (August 29, 2004) - Bruno Junqueira (#6 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) had kept himself within reach in the hunt for the 2004 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford title despite the fact that he had not won a race and had only led 45 laps of competition through nine races.
The Brazilian took care of a couple of those oversights and thrust himself right into the heart of the title bout Sunday, scoring his first victory of the year as he bested Patrick Carpentier (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) to win the Molson Indy Montreal in front of a race-day crowd of 53,320.
Junqueira paced the final 25 trips around the 2.709-mile Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve to score the victory, beating the hometown favorite Carpentier by 6.382 seconds. His win, coupled with the early exit by points leader Sebastien Bourdais (#2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), took Junqueira to within 34 points of the championship lead after 10 events.
Bourdais looked like the man to beat early as the polesitter sprinted away at the drop of the flag and led the first 20 laps, keeping the lead through an early restart after Ryan Hunter-Reay (#4 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) crashed in Turn Eight. The lead then swapped between Bourdais, rookie A.J. Allmendinger (#10 Western Union Ford-Cosworth/Lola/ Bridgestone) and Mario Dominguez (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/ Lola/Bridgestone) for the next 20 laps, Allmendinger's time at the front marking the first time that the 2003 Toyota Atlantic champion had ever led a Champ Car race.
Allmendinger may have had the most eventful race of the season by any competitor, battling back repeatedly after misfortune struck in the first corner. The Californian started on the outside of the front row, but found himself in 18th position after the first lap after contact with Paul Tracy (#1 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/ Bridgestone) left Allmendinger with a flat right rear tire. He pitted for new Bridgestones on Lap 2 and then stopped again for fuel under the early caution, allowing him to take the point when the leaders stopped on Laps 20-21.
He built a 13-second lead before yielding to Dominguez, whose next trip down Pit Lane would effectively end his chances at winning the race. He carried a two-second lead over Bourdais to his pit but would spend the next 30 seconds waiting for service as a malfunctioning air gun prevented the team from changing the right front tire. Bourdais held the lead for the next six laps before he would need fuel service, promoting Allmendinger back to the front on Lap 42.
But on that lap, Allmendinger tried to go on the inside of Bourdais in Turn 10 and the two drivers had contact, resulting in a bent suspension and an early retirement for Bourdais. Allmendinger continued on but drew a five-second stop-and-hold penalty from Champ Car Stewards for avoidable contact. The resulting pit stop to serve the penalty boosted Junqueira to the lead for the first time as the Newman/Haas driver suddenly found himself with an 11-second lead.
A fierce battled raged behind Junqueira as Tracy, Dominguez, Carpentier and Justin Wilson (#34 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/ Bridgestone) all ran in a four-car train trying to get the second spot. Tracy led the caravan for a few laps before Carpentier snaked by, taking second as the field prepared to make their mandatory pit stops between Laps 49 and 58.
Allmendinger was the first to make his stop, rolling down Pit Lane at the earliest available moment for his final service. Champ Car officials initially ruled that he had come in too early, thus failing to meet the mandatory window, but the stewards would reverse their decision after the race and remove any penalty incurred by the RuSPORT team. Wilson fell out of contention soon after as well as a balky gearbox ended his race with 14 laps to go, stopping a promising run that saw him in the fifth spot.
The remainder of the field pitted on Lap 57 and the Newman/ Haas squad did not miss a beat at Junqueira was able to maintain his advantage over the second-placed Carpentier. The lead fluctuated between seven and nine second for the remainder of the race with Junqueira eventually scoring a 6.382-second margin of victory. The win was the sixth of the year for Newman/ Haas and the sixth in Junqueira's career, while Carpentier matched a season high with his runner-up finish.
Dominguez fought through late-race back cramps to finish third, himself matching a season high set in the Round 2 event in Monterrey, Mexico. Tracy settled for fourth while Allmendinger rounded out the top five after Champ Car Stewards revoked his one-lap penalty. The fifth-place finish for Allmendinger was the third in the last four races for the young American, and boosted him to seventh in the season standings as well as giving him a 28-point lead in the series Rookie-of-the-Year chase.
His RuSPORT teammate Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford- Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) climbed six positions to finish sixth, earning the championship point for gaining the most ground during the race. Alex Tagliani (#8 Johnson Controls Ford- Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) would finish seventh while Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) ended up eighth on the day that he set a new series record for most consecutive starts with 193.
Vasser's PKV Racing teammate Roberto Gonzalez (#21 NII Holdings Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) scored a top-10 finish as well, marking the third time this year that the two PKV stablemates have finished in the top 10.
The attendance numbers for the Molson Indy Montreal were released after the race. 133,726 fans attended the event over the three days. 32,912 came on Friday, 47,494 attended on Saturday with 53,320 fans coming through the turnstiles on race day.
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