Jourdain notches first CART victoryPosted: Sunday June 01, 2003 1:28 AM
WEST ALLIS, Wisconsin (Ticker) - Michel Jourdain Jr. of Mexico dominated the Milwaukee Mile Centennial 250 on Saturday night, notching his first career victory in the first Champ Car World Series event held under the lights.
Driving a Ford/Lola, Jourdain led 234 of 250 laps to claim the checkered flag, his first in 126 starts over seven years on the erstwhile CART circuit.
"I couldn't have asked for more from the team. The car was just perfect," said Jourdain, who averaged 113.190 miles per hour. "It was very emotional for me. I was almost crying in the car those last few laps.
"This is probably the best thing that ever happened to me in my whole life. Racing at night here in Milwaukee is wonderful. Now I think all of our races should be at night."
Jourdain led from laps 3-59 and the final 177 of the 250-lap race.
Oriol Servia of Spain did not have enough power to overtake his friend and was second for his best career finish.
"The car was great, it was quick, and it just feels bad not to win it when you are that close," Servia said. "But I guess only one can win it, so it's a good job."
Servia battled with defending champion Paul Tracy for position midway through the event.
"It was definitely hot," he said. "We passed each other three times. It was definitely good."
Patrick Carpentier of Canada recorded the fastest lap at 170.266 miles per hour in his Ford/Lola but finished third.
"It was good. I love driving at night," said Carpentier, who was one of four drivers to lead the race.
"We got a little too loose at one point and I couldn't be aggressive on the restarts as much as I wanted to. I was just really hanging on, the steering was really tough. We got some points and gained some ground in the championship."
The French-Canadian was the leader between laps 60-72.
Englishman Darren Manning posted his top finish of fourth after starting 11th.
Pole sitter Alex Tagliani led only the opening two laps which were ran under caution to warm the tires. Tagliani struggled the rest of the way with poor handling to finish fifth.
The victory gave Jourdain the series points lead. He has 77 points, 10 more than Tracy.
Tracy was running second until his final pit stop on lap 213. His Ford/Lola fell off the jack support when his rear left tire was not properly secured. He lost the tire on the next tour out and had to come back into the pits, losing a lap in the process and eventually finishing 12th.
When the green flag flew on lap 3 after the warmup, Brazilian Bruno Junqueira spun, tagged the wall and hit fellow countryman Roberto Moreno and rookie Frenchman Patrick Lemarie in the ensuing wreck.
Junqueira, third in the standings with 66 points, left the track wearing a neck and back brace support and was taken to a local hospital for observation.
Other drivers to crash out were rookies Ryan Hunter-Reay, Joel Camanthias and Rodolfo Lavin.
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