LABOR POWER RACING:  Lung Busters, Leg Breakers

CART Superstar Paul Tracy Joins Labor!
Labor Power's CART Superstar Paul Tracy Rips Long Beach (4/19/04)


Labor Power co-sponsor Paul Tracy: Need for Speed
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Labor Power thanks Paul Tracy for co-sponsoring the Labor Power Bike Racing Team.

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Tracy Wins Long Beach Opener

By MIKE HARRIS
Posted on Sun, Apr. 18, 2004

The Associated Press

LONG BEACH, Calif. - Paul Tracy pulled off a dangerous move on the first green flag lap of the Grand Prix of Long Beach, then drove away with an easy victory in the Champ Car World Series season opener Sunday.

"The car was just perfect all weekend," said Tracy after winning the Long Beach race for the third time in five years and fourth time overall.

A crowd estimated at more than 70,000 turned out on the sunny, warm day and Tracy thanked the fans for sticking with Champ Car, which survived the bankruptcy of former owner CART and considerable uncertainty over its future during the offseason.

"We're all here for you guys and I want to thank you," Tracy said. "This is a great start and we're going to do great things."

With Newman/Haas Racing teammates Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais ahead of him at the start, Tracy, the defending race and series champion, wasted little time in making his move.

After the first lap was run under caution because of a ragged start, the green flag came out for the start of lap two on the tight 1.968-mile downtown street circuit. Tracy's Forsythe Racing Lola darted to the inside, fishtailing for a moment before he completed the pass heading into the first turn, a sharp left-hander.

Except for the laps around his pit stops, the Canadian-born Tracy led the rest of the way in the 81-lap event, beating Junqueira to the finish line by 5.681 seconds - most of the last straightaway.

Bourdais, last year's top rookie, finished third, followed by Patrick Carpentier, Mario Dominguez and former Formula One driver and Champ Car rookie Justin Wilson.

Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alex Tagliani also finished on the lead lap.

Junqueira, who has finished second in the points the last two seasons - behind Cristiano da Matta in 2002 and Tracy last year - was not pleased with giving up the lead to Tracy at the start or with the new rules that require two green flag pit stops by each driver.

"I knew that Paul was going to try something like that," Junqueira said of the pass for the lead.

"Unfortunately, the ways the rules are, you have to play it safe. I caught him twice but, the way the rules are, there is no race. It was a great crowd today but one thing they didn't see was a fight between me and Tracy."

Despite the close confines at Long Beach, the race had only two full-course cautions.

The last one came out moments after Tracy completed his pass for the lead. In the pack behind the leaders, six cars wound up crashing as they jostled for position going into the first turn.

Former series champion Jimmy Vasser, Tarso Marques and rookie Alex Sperafico were all knocked out of the race, while rookies A.J. Allmendinger, Nelson Philippe and Roberto Gonzalez all lost laps but were able to continue.

Philippe, 17, became the youngest driver to race in Champ Car since the series began in 1979. The youngest previous starter was Michel Jourdain Jr., who was 19 when he first raced in 1996.


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