Paul Tracy and Sebastien Bourdais go at it in Denver. Will the
controversy continue in Montreal? Champ Car
Denver’s in the rearview mirror and Montreal awaits
the Champ Car family this weekend….with all of us wondering how the
series’ major rivalries will play out this time around.
It seems to me after ten races in 2006 a new level
of intensity is brewing in Champ Car.
A couple of significant rivalries are blossoming,
fueled by genuine dislike as well as tight competition. And while
that may make things tense on the grid and in the paddock, it’s
great for all of us who are fans. And it’s better yet for the
series, which has needed some of its drivers to step forward and
begin to battle hard on and off the track.
We’ve enjoyed the rough and tumble warfare between
Sebastien Bourdais and Paul Tracy for the past couple of seasons.
And now, as Tracy searches for the final pieces in his performance
puzzle, another driver’s emerged who’s fast enough to give two-time
series champ Bourdais fits. And best of all, AJ Allmendinger is
American-born and bred, perhaps the heir apparent to drivers like
Mears, Unser, and Vasser.
And you can throw Justin Wilson into the mix as well. The young Brit
has three wins these last two seasons, and while it appears his CDW
squad isn’t yet ready to contend for a championship you have to
think they soon will. Justin has to be challenged by the emergence
of his friend and former RuSPORT teammate. And Wilson is very
capable of winning another race or two before this season comes to a
With RuSPORT remaining a single-car team at least for this weekend’s
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve run, it’s possible Wilson will gain
ground. Despite his Denver disappointment the team’s considerable
engineering brainpower will be focused completely on the 9 car which
could pay off with a victory.
Tracy meantime will try to bounce back, perhaps literally, after his
fateful final-turn wheel-wanging with Bourdais in Denver. Whether it
was over-driving, old tires, or just simply a case of the red mist,
it appeared from our vantage point PT tried too hard to keep
Bourdais from checkering second. The post-checkered flag dustup
between these rivals injected this weekend’s run with yet another
dose of adrenalin and anticipation.
Allmendinger meantime has regained his mojo just in time for the
stretch run. After his three wins in a row earlier, Allmendinger had
returned to earth in the Indeck #7. But he and engineer Michael
Cannon again found just the right combination of strategy, tires,
and setup to come up with the fastest car by far in the middle
stages of the Denver GP, and Allmendinger’s machine remained quick
until the finish.
A repeat of that effort on Sunday, especially if Bourdais has
another difficult weekend in Montreal, would tee us up for a great
title fight over the final three rounds this season.
We’ll also be watching the Champ Car Atlantic drama this weekend.
Simon Pagenaud has earned the championship lead with consistent
speed and opportunism. Graham Rahal, on the other hand, has had a
dominant car at many tracks but mistakes and some mechanical issues
have put him behind in the $2-million dollar sweepstakes. Circuit
Gilles Villeneuve is one of Champ Car’s best stages, full of speed
and challenging corners. Whoever can put together the smoothest 50
miles Sunday morning will likely be in position to grab the big
prize next month at Road America.
We’ll be trackside all weekend with our Champ Car coverage live on
NBC Sports Sunday afternoon. If this is in fact the last roundup for
Champ Car in Montreal I suspect it will be an outstanding one. Hope
you can join us for all the action.
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