Paul Tracy's face was even redder than last year. There was no smoke coming out of his ears, though.
Tracy, whose race in 2004 ended when he was hit from behind on the first turn, avoided trouble Sunday to win the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland for the first time since 1993.
"We came back and showed what we could do," an exhausted Tracy said. "This was very tough. The pace was relentless. The speed was relentless. I was going hard the entire race."
A year ago, a furious and frustrated Tracy stormed off the course after he was hit from behind at the course's treacherous Turn 1, knocking the pole-sitter off track and out of the race seconds after it began.
But starting on the front row again, the 36-year-old Canadian made it safely through Burke Lakefront Airport's tricky first hairpin turn and navigated all 900 other bends, twists and swerves over the 1 hour 45 minutes to a satisfying victory.
It was the 30th win of Tracy's career, moving him into seventh place on Champ Car's all-time list -- one behind Al Unser Jr.
"We were consistent all day," said Tracy, whose best lap ranked only seventh on the day. "We didn't have the best car out there. But we didn't make any mistakes."
Starting on the pole again, Tracy finished 3.113 seconds ahead of A.J. Allmendinger, who was immobilized and carried from the track on a stretcher Saturday after a nasty wreck in qualifying.
Allmendinger was cleared to race by Champ medical personnel only a few hours before the start, and recorded his best finish in two years on the circuit.
"We were struggling all weekend," Allmendinger said. "I was a bit sore, and my stomach has been kind of edgy since the crash. All I was worried about over the last 20 laps was losing my lunch."
Oriol Servia finished third, Alex Tagliani fourth, and two-time defending Cleveland champion Sebastien Bourdais was fifth.
"It seems like this year things aren't going our way as much," said Bourdais, the 2004 series champion. "We've been fighting very hard, and it's going to turn around."
Tracy's victory was decided as much by his solid driving as picking the right time to pit.
He led the first 29 laps -- and 46 total -- before going into the pits for the first time.
Tracy didn't retake the lead until the 86th lap, when Tagliani, who grabbed the lead for five laps when Tracy pulled off, had to stop for fuel and new tires.
Tracy then led the final five laps of the race, which was shortened to 91 laps from 94 to accommodate TV coverage.
Tracy earned 31 championship points for the win and leads the series with 128, one more than Bourdais. Because Servia edged his teammate Bourdais for the fastest lap, Tracy will start the July 10 race in Toronto atop the standings.
Brandon Bernstein ended a 26-race winless streak in top-fuel competition, turning a 4.553-second pass at 324.59 mph to beat Morgan Lucas at the Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals at Gateway Raceway in Madison, Ill.
Other winners in the 12th of 23 events in the series included Ron Capps in funny car, Kurt Johnson in pro stock and Angelle Sampey in pro stock motorcycle.
Bernstein won for the first time since May 2004 at the O'Reilly Summer Nationals in Topeka, Kan.
"That's definitely true -- the monkey's off our back," Bernstein said.
Capp won in the funny car for the first time since the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals in February 2003, beating Tim Wilkerson with a run of 4.862 seconds at 321.04 mph.
In the pro stock, Johnson won for the first time in 10 final-round appearances and for the 29th time in his career, beating Greg Anderson with a run of 6.729 seconds at 205.19 mph.
In pro stock motorcycle, Sampey's win over Antron Brown was her first since the 2004 season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals. She had a run of 7.237 seconds and 186.02 mph.