DENVER -- Taking turn 4 a little too close during practice, Sebastien Bourdais brushed the wall and nearly crashed.
Paul Tracy wasn't so lucky once the race started.
Bourdais took advantage of a late crash by Tracy on the same
corner, then pulled away from the pack to defend his title in the
Grand Prix of Denver on Sunday, his third straight victory and
fourth of the season.
"Quite honestly, I didn't expect to win the race," said Bourdais, who joined
Bruno Junqueira as the only drivers to defend in Denver. "Maybe I
would catch him, but so what? And then it got better than that. He
made the same mistake that I made, but crashed it. That was the end
of the story for him."
Bourdais won last year's race from the back of the pack, winding
his way from 13th to first after getting bumped in the first turn.
The Frenchman avoided another pileup on the first corner this time,
then waited for his chance.
That came on lap 62, when Tracy slammed into a wall after
cutting the corner too close. Bourdais moved into the lead after
that and was never seriously challenged, finishing 15.27 seconds
ahead of Mario Dominguez on the 1.657-mile temporary street course.
A.J. Allmendinger finished third, a big step for the second-year
driver after crashing the previous two races.
Bourdais, who won in Edmonton and San Jose the previous two
races, celebrated with a few doughnuts in front of the grandstands
after increasing his lead over Tracy in the Champ Car series to 53
points with five races left.
Bourdais gave the thumbs-up as he drove in, then waved a
checkered flag and pumped his fist in victory lane as his parents,
who flew over from France, looked on.
"When I saw P.T. hit the wall, I was very surprised because he
makes few mistakes," Bourdais said. "That's not the kind of
mistakes he makes when he performs like that. It just emphasizes
the point that it's really difficult to have a clear race here. I'm
just glad he did."
Tracy had hoped he'd be able to cut in Bourdais' lead after
setting track records on both days of qualifying to earn his third
pole of the season. Tracy led the race from the start, except
during a brief pit stop, and seemed to be in control, his car
running almost perfectly.
Then disaster struck.
Coming around turn 4, Tracy was trying to get close enough to
lap another car when he brushed the inside wall and knocked his
front suspension loose. The impact threw Tracy's car across the
track and he slammed straight into a concrete wall, destroying the
Tracy got out of his car and ran across the track away from
on-track officials, furious that he cost his team what seemed to be
a sure victory.
"The car was great. I just basically just handed the
championship to Sebastien," Tracy said. "It's devastating for the
whole team. We'll just try to come back next week in Montreal and
win there. That's all we can do."
Allmendinger, running third after Tracy's mishap, moved up to
second on lap 71 when Dominguez drove off the track at turn 4 and
dropped to fourth. Dominguez put it in reverse to get back on the
track, then started pouring on the speed.
He turned in the race's fastest lap four laps later, then passed
Timo Glock, who was having transmission trouble, for third on lap
87. Dominguez quickly closed the gap on Allmendinger, then passed
him on the penultimate lap, diving inside on turn 9 and holding him
off down the start/finish straightaway as the white flag waved.