WEST ALLIS, Wis. (AP) – Paul Tracy has been schooled by several masters of oval racing and Saturday he turned some of that savvy into his fourth win at the Milwaukee Mile.

Tracy made a gutsy outside pass of pole-winner Jimmy Vasser stick on the 19th of 221 laps and went on to win the Road Runner 225 Champ Car World Series event, holding off tenacious second-year driver A.J. Allmendinger in the waning laps.

“In the beginning of my career, I had Rick (Mears) and Emerson (Fittipaldi) to learn from,” Tracy explained. “Then Al (Unser Jr.) came and Michael (Andretti) in “95. He won here a lot of times.

“I learned how you can push it on cold tires and I’ve just got a good feel.”

Then Tracy grinned and added, “Of course, last year, I tried that move here and hit the wall.”

There were no slip-ups this time, though, as Tracy, who started fifth in the 17-car field, was second by the end of the first lap. He stayed close to Vasser, who started from the pole for the first time in four years.

, and finally made his move on a restart following the first of three caution flags in the race.

The Canadian-born Tracy, who lives in Las Vegas, shot to the outside of Vasser on the wide, flat mile oval. Vasser fought hard to hold Tracy off and the two drove side by side for more than half a lap before Tracy finally pulled ahead coming off the fourth turn.

Tracy likened the duel between former champions, the oldest drivers in the series, to a race between “two old salty seadogs.”

“It was going at it like 10 years ago,” he said. “That was fun.”

Vasser said the move by Tracy, who went on to lead 192 laps, didn’t surprise him.

“He was in a different world today,” Vasser said. “We had a good race going at the start, but Tracy is the king of the restarts and I just didn’t want to get into it with him that early in the race, so I backed off.”

Once Tracy put his Forsythe Championship Racing Lola out front, it appeared he might run away from the field. But the 23-year-old Allmendinger, last year’s top rookie, wouldn’t let the leader get away.

As the laps wound down on the race, cut four laps short by a time limit imposed for the live CBS broadcast, Allmendinger hung with Tracy, cutting his lead at times to less than five car lengths.

Debris on the track brought out the final caution on lap 210 and bunched the field, giving Allmendinger one last chance to chase down the leader.

Each of the Champ Car entries starts the race with one minute of extra turbocharger pressure, known as Push-To-Pass power. The drivers can push a button on the steering wheel to get bursts of about 50 extra horsepower until the minute is gone.

Preparing for the final restart, Tracy had 19 seconds left and Allmendinger none. That was the difference as Tracy used up nine seconds of Push-To-Pass and pulled away, beating Allmendinger to the finish line by 3.369-seconds – nearly half a straightaway.

“The car was great all weekend,” he said. “The only mistake we made was not getting it tuned up for qualifying. We made a small tire pressure change on the last pit stop and the car was perfect the rest of the way. We had our fastest time on the last lap.”

It was Tracy’s first win since last July in Vancouver and the 29th of his career, tying him for seventh on the all-time Champ Car list with Mears.

“He was really fast,” said Allmendinger, whose previous best finish was third last year in Vancouver. “That’s what it all came down to.”

All the leaders had pitted shortly before the final caution and the new tires on Tracy’s car also made a difference.

“I think on old tires we had something for him, but on new tires he was a missile,” said Allmendinger, who allowed that he got no sleep Friday night because of a migraine headache that made him ill. “But second isn’t too bad. We needed a great run because we had a bad start to the year.”

Oriol Servia, filling in after Bruno Junqueira was injured in a crash last Sunday in the Indianapolis 500, was third, followed by Justin Wilson and Vasser, the last driver on the lead lap. Sebastien Bourdais, who fell off the lead lap when he was issued a drive-through penalty for speeding on pit lane, wound up sixth, but took over the series points lead from Newman/Haas Racing teammate Junqueira.

Wilson is now second, seven points behind, followed by Tracy, another point back, Junqueira, who may be out for the year, and Allmendinger.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, who started from the pole and led every lap in this race last year, crashed on the sixth lap, bringing out the first caution flag. He was taken to a hospital after complaining of neck pain. A CAT scan and other tests were negative and Hunter-Reay was expected to be released from the hospital later Saturday.

The only other accident came on lap 127 when Mario Dominguez, Tracy’s teammate, nearly lost control and slid high on the track. Rookie Andrew Ranger, 18, coming off a second-place finish last month in Monterrey, Mexico, went high on the track to avoid Dominguez and wound up sliding hard into the wall. He was not injured.

AP-ES-06-04-05 1703EDT


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