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Coyne Racing finds new energy with Junqueira

Times Staff Writer

Parity brought on by the Champ Car World Series’ new chassis, the DP01, continued to pay dividends Sunday for Dale Coyne Racing.

Having so often fielded also-rans, owner Dale Coyne watched a second strong performance. Brazilian Bruno Junqueira, who joined Coyne after being replaced at Newman-Haas-Lanigan Racing by 18-year-old prodigy Graham Rahal, finished sixth in the 33rd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Rahal, son of three-time champion Bobby Rahal, finished eighth.

Junqueira’s sixth was significant. Since 1984, Coyne’s teams have had only two third-place finishes and in only four seasons has it had a race finish better than sixth.

None of Coyne’s drivers has finished higher than ninth in the season standings.

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Through two of 16 events, Junqueira is fourth, 23 points behind leader Will Power of Team Australia.

Junqueira took seventh last week in Las Vegas, finishing right behind teammate, Katherine Legge.

She finished 10th Sunday and is eighth among the 16 drivers who have started both races.

“It was a good day for us today,” said Junqueira, who finished second in the championship three times while at Newman-Haas. “This puts us in great position for the championship.”

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Oxnard-based Pacific Coast Motorsports had mixed results. The first-year entry into Champ Car finished ninth with Scotsman Ryan Dalziel, but American Alex Figge had a hard crash into the Turn 9 wall. He was OK, but admitted, “I am definitely going to be sore for a few days. It was a big hit.”

Dalziel started 15th in both races this season. He improved four spots in Las Vegas, six on Sunday.

“It wasn’t easy -- it was pretty much a sprint race out there -- it was tiring,” Dalziel said. “Overall, though, we’ve made a lot of progress in one week’s time. We’ve proven we can contend for top 10s, and we ran a mistake-free race.”

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Raphael Matos made it two for two for Sierra Sierra Enterprises as the Brazilian won the Imperial Capital Bank Champ Car Atlantic Series race.

Matos started on the pole and led all the way on the 1.97-mile seaside circuit, holding off Jonathan Bomarito to win the timed 31-lap race by 1.517 seconds. With three cautions, he averaged 78.721 mph.

Matos swept the 34 available points during the weekend and has 65, 11 more than third-place finisher Robert Wickens and 13 more than Bomarito.

“Malcolm in the Middle” star Frankie Muniz, who crashed in his Atlantic debut last week in only his second year of professional racing, started 25th and finished 19th in the 29-car field, 47.1 seconds behind the winner.

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Eric Curran of East Hampton, Mass., won the 28-lap Speed GT Championship race for sports cars. Curran’s Corvette finished less than two seconds ahead of second-place Andy Pilgrim in a Cadillac CTS-V and Lou Gigliotti in another Corvette.

Rhys Millen of Huntington Beach; Tanner Foust of Steamboat Springs, Colo.; Rich Rutherford of San Clemente; and Samuel Hubinette of Newport Beach helped “Team Fast & Furious 3" win the inaugural EZ Lube Team Drift Challenge.

martin.henderson@latimes.com


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