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UNSER JR. RACES TO VICTORY FOR 6TH TOYOTA GRAND PRIX WIN

Al Unser Jr. renewed his lease on the downtown street circuit at Long Beach on Sunday, turning around a disappointing season start with his sixth Toyota Grand Prix victory.

Unser, who has 28 career wins, won for the second straight year and the sixth in the past eight on the 1.59-mile, eight-turn temporary circuit.It was a big win for Unser, who won eight of 16 races last season on the way to his second PPG IndyCar World Series title. The 32-year-old second-generation racer had struggled through the first three races this season, hampered by electronic gremlins, failing to finish higher than sixth.

But seeing the picturesque, waterside Long Beach circuit got him back on track as Unser, who will turn 33 on April 19, dominated the 105-lap, 166.95-mile race, averaging 91.442 mph.

"It was quite a race," Unser said. "We were working very hard, trying to pass everybody out there, and we were pretty hard on the equipment early in the race trying to get the lead. The brakes weren't too good at the end, but Long Beach is always tough on brakes."

As challenger after challenger fell from the race with mechanical problems, Unser was practically on cruise control, beating second-place Scott Pruett by 23.12 seconds, nearly half a lap.

That runner-up showing did give Pruett, the top performer on the new Firestone tires, the series lead, however, with 46 points. Unser moved up to third with 34, trailing Brazil's Mauricio Gugelmin by just four points.

Teo Fabi finished third, the last car on the lead lap, followed by Eddie Cheever, who ran out of fuel on the last lap, and Gugelmin.

The race did not begin well. Paul Tracy, starting on the outside of the front row, jumped pole-winning teammate Michael Andretti on the start, bringing a caution flag.

When the green flag waved for the start of lap two, Andretti, the only driver to have led all four races this season, was back in control.

By lap 12, Unser was challenging Tracy for second. He made the pass on lap 16, bringing rookie Gil de Ferran with him. Tracy tried to get back past de Ferran on lap 17 and the two came together, with the Brazilian slamming into a tire barrier and Tracy rolling into him, both of them knocked out of the race.

Several of the leaders, including Andretti and Unser, decided to make their first pit stops at that point, giving the top spots to Teo Fabi of Italy and Scott Pruett, who stayed 1-2 until they pitted on lap 30 during another caution period.

Unser, who had passed Andretti for the third spot on the restart on lap 25, moved into the lead, the first time he has been out front this season.

Unser led Andretti by as much as 2.49 seconds, on lap 40, but the 1986 Long Beach winner came back to pressure the leader, trailing by less than one second from laps 47 through 55. That's when Michael tried to pass Little Al on the outside going into turn six on the 1.59-mile, eight-turn street circuit.

Andretti's car nosed past, but smoke began spewing from the rear tires as his brakes locked and the Lola-Ford slid through the turn into the runoff areas and Unser's Penske-Mercedes sped on.

That left Bobby Rahal in second place, less than two seconds behind. Rahal and Andretti did lead again during the second round of fuel stops, but Unser remained in charge.

Rahal, a three-time series champion, was able to keep Unser in sight, trailing by less than three seconds before his car stopped on course on lap 78 with a broken transmission. That brought out the fifth caution flag of the race and erased the 8.91-second differential between teammates Unser and Fittipaldi.

None of the three youngsters who won the first three races of the season was able to finish Sunday, with Australia-winner Tracy, 26, knocked out in the incident with de Ferran; Miami winner Jacques Villeneuve, 23, put out by an electrical problem; and Phoenix winner Robby Gordon, 26, out just past halfway with an overheating engine.