You don't have to look far down the entry list in the Champ Car World Series to see who has taken another pole position this year. Sophomore driver Sebastien Bourdais secured his place again as the man to beat with a outstanding last-lap charge in Saturday's qualifying round, beating out rookie sensation A. J. Allmendinger.
"Well, the first stint was good but it didn't count." Bourdais said. "I was called for shortcutting the course and I think the new rule is ridiculous, but whatever."
Spending much of the first fifteen minutes in the pits, the Frenchman waited for a challenger to beat his Friday provisional pole time of 1:21.695. That challenge came from Mexican Mario Dominguez. At the time, Dominguez had knocked out a lap of 1:20.570, then lowered it later in the session to 1:20.316. Dominguez finished third best and will start on the inside of row two, right next to Bruno Junqueira who currently stands second in the points championship.
That was all the prompting Bourdais needed as he headed back out to reclaim top spot. Within three laps Bourdais nudged Dominguez over a spot by .003 of a second.
After a series of pit stops to adjust down force, Bourdais cranked out another quick lap of 1:20.274. Five minutes remained in the session then, and the next time by start-finish, Allmendinger jumped ahead with a blistering lap of 1:20.272, 121.492 mph, just .002 of a second quicker than his rival.
With the series and rookie points leaders on the front row for the first time this year, it may be hard to tell who wants the first turn more after the start of Sunday's race. "I'm not lifting (the accelerator) going into turn one", Allmendinger quipped. "I'm aiming right for Sebastien. No, I have respect for everyone in this series, but if I see an opening I'm going to take it." I'll be racing for the win from the green (flag), but a result in the top five is still a great result."
Canadian Paul Tracy, not to be outdone by too much time, found enough in his car to qualify fifth with a time of 1:20.803. He'll start next to Forsythe teammate Patrick Carpentier.
Every driver who had qualified on Friday made an improvement during Saturday's session. The last of the top-ten qualifying spots go to seventh quickest Alex Tagliani, followed by rookie Justin Wilson, Ryan Hunter Reay and Oriol Servia.
"It think it was a much harder session (than on Friday), a lot of traffic for sure", Bourdais said after qualifying. "There was not a clear case of blocking anywhere but it was not very easy to find your way through."
There are just five races left to be run this year and Bourdais has a healthy series points lead in hand, but even with that, he'll not even begin to discuss the championship that now seems within his reach. "I don't even want to think about that", Bourdais said. "We just want to focus as a team on each race and doing the best we can. The rest will work out itself, and if we work hard the results will come."