Tracy claims Vancouver Molson Indy
Somewhere up there, Greg Moore is looking down on Vancouver and smiling.
In fitting fashion, fellow Canadian driver Paul Tracy of Toronto capitalized on a minor miscue by teammate Dario Franchitti late in the race to win his first Vancouver Indy on Sunday.
Franchitti, who was described as Moore's best friend on the circuit, finished in second to complete a 1-2 sweep for Team KOOL Green while Mexico's Adrian Fernandez crossed the finished well back in third place.
Moore, 24, was killed in a high-speed crash when his car slammed into a wall in the final CART race of the season last year in Fontana, Calif.
Moore's short but spectacular life was celebrated just before the race on Sunday as fans were treated to a video montage of Moore's accomplishments and watched as his championship car No. 99 was retired.
After winning the pole position on Saturday, it looked like Franchitti was determined to win this one for his departed friend as he led for over half of the race, until a crash by Shinji Nakano brought out a yellow flag.
Franchitti and Tracy, who was in second place, both decided to take a pit stop at the same time on lap 53, but Franchitti's car stalled when he was trying to drive back out onto the course.
Tracy raced by his teammate much to the delight of his pit crew and never looked back, picking up some crucial points in CART series championship point standings.
With the win, Tracy -- who signed a five-year contract extension with Team KOOL Green earlier this week -- earned 20 points and now sits in second place, just six points behind Newman Haas driver Michael Andretti, who finished 12th.
Franchitti looked like he was pushing Tracy in the final 10 laps, trying to pass the Toronto driver, but the Canadian got on his radio and reminded the Scottish driver that they made an agreement just before the race.
"We were going to fight at the beginning and however we ended up after the last stop, that's how we were going to run, and he was pressuring me," said Tracy, who came from back of the pack to win the Road America race two weeks ago.
"So I was saying `is this what the deal is?' "
Last year's race winner, Juan Montoya was closing in on Franchitti late in the race until he missed an opportunity to hit the pits on a yellow flag and ran out of gas.
While Tracy was celebrating his second straight win on the circuit, it was a dismal weekend of the other Canadian drivers in Vancouver.
On the fourth lap, Alex Tagliani of Lachenaie, Que., and Player's Forsythe teammate Patrick Carpentier of Joliette, Que., got entangled with one another when Tagliani made an risky pass on Carpentier. As a result, Carpentier drove into a tire barrier. When he tried to resume the race, he crashed into Mark Blundell.
"There was no way he could pass me there," said an angry Carpentier, who finished 24th. "He was not even close to being equal to me. He didn't back out and I had no place to go.
"I don't know what Alex had on his mind," said Carpentier whose future with Player's Forsythe is in doubt.
"I don't know what kind of a race he wanted to do but I could tell you before he did the move, he was not going to go by.
The Indy in Vancouver was supposed to be the last of three auditions to determine Carpentier's future with Team Player's
"I don't know what I'm going to do," he said. "I'd like to be part of CART because I have unfinished business here and that's where I want to be next year.
"Man, if this was my evaluation, I just failed it. I'm in deep trouble."
Later on in the race, Tagliani lost control of his vehicle and bumped into a set of tire barriers on Nakano's caution flag.
"The alignment of the car was so wrong I was not able to steer the car into the corners and we were going slowly," Tagliani said.
Sunday's race drew 63,677 fans, about three thousand more than 1999, but well below the record of 71,000 set in 1995.