Archive for Monday, April 19, 2004

Wallace halts long winless streak

Advance Auto Parts 500 halted for more than hour after concrete busts loose in third turn

April 19, 2004


— Rusty Wallace held off Bobby Labonte for the last 30 laps Sunday to end his 105-race winless streak -- and more than five hours on the track at Martinsville Speedway under a blazing sun.

The Advance Auto Parts 500 was halted for more than an hour with 210 laps to go after a block of concrete came lose in the third turn, leaving a dangerous hole a foot long and a foot wide in the surface.

Wallace, whose last victory came on April 29, 2001, at California Speedway, passed Jimmie Johnson for the lead on the 456th lap and pulled away on a restart with 38 laps left as the cars behind him battled for position. He held on after Labonte emerged from the pack and tried to chase him down.

"Finally," he said after emerging from the car in Victory Lane with his arms raised.

He finished .538 seconds ahead of Labonte for his 55th career victory.

"I'm so glad to win again," he said. "Man, it's been so long and we've gotten so close.

"The fans have been behind me forever and ever, pulling for me really hard. This one's for them."

The hole on the track, two to three inches deep, damaged defending race champion Jeff Gordon's car and may have cost him a chance at a third straight victory on the .526-mile oval, where he also has won three straight poles.

Tracy tames GP field

Long Beach, Calif. -- Dangerous moves are nothing new for Paul Tracy, always one of the most aggressive drivers in the Champ Car World Series.

The big difference is, these days, Tracy is making them pay off.

Last year's champion 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 season opener Sunday.

A crowd estimated at more than 70,000 turned out 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.

With Newman/Haas Racing teammates Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais ahead of him at the start, Tracy 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 gained momentum at the starting line with the help of Champ Car's new "push to pass" button, which produces an extra 50 horsepower of boost from the turbocharged Ford Cosworth engines for up to a total of 60 seconds during the race.

Tracy darted to the inside of Junqueira, fishtailing for a moment before he completed the pass heading into the first turn, a sharp left-hander. Tracy was so dominant, he never had to use the button again, finishing with 48 seconds of boost remaining.

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