Motor Racing: Unser street wise to Vancouver: Leader closes on IndyCar title with four races remaining

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The Independent Online
AL UNSER Jnr is closing in on his second PPG IndyCar championship, though the door remained slightly open for Emerson Fittipaldi, his Penske team-mate, as practice started for tomorrow's Molson-Indy race in Vancouver.

Unser, the winner of seven of the 12 races this season, holds a 40-point lead over Fittipaldi with four races remaining. To make matters worse for Fittipaldi, the 32-year-old Unser has won twice at Vancouver. A year ago, he caused an upset by gaining his only victory of the season.

Unser, however, said it was difficult to find any advantage on the 1.677-mile street circuit that winds around Pacific Place in central Vancouver. 'It's a tough little track,' Unser said. 'You've got to put the power down really well, your brakes have to work just right and last the distance, and the car has to want to turn really well.'

Fittipaldi knows his title chances are slim. 'After New Hampshire, it will be very tough to beat Al. But we will be trying anyway. On a street circuit, anything can happen, and I'm sure it will be a very close race - not just with Al and Paul (Tracy), but other people like Bobby Rahal, Michael (Andretti) and Robby Gordon,' he said.

Andretti is the only driver other than Unser to have won since the Vancouver race was added to the schedule in 1990, taking consecutive victories in 1991 and 1992. He is also adept at winning on temporary street circuits like this one.

'We've had some good luck on street circuits this year,' Andretti, who won in Surfers Paradise, Australia, and Toronto, said.