CHAMPCAR/CART: Bourdais storms to San Jose pole

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CHAMPCAR/CART: Bourdais storms to San Jose pole

Sunny and warm conditions greeted the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford for day two of qualifying on the 1.5-mile, 7-turn street circuit in downtown San Jose. Sébastien Bourdais. Photo by Tom Haapanen. Two-time defending...

Sunny and warm conditions greeted the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford for day two of qualifying on the 1.5-mile, 7-turn street circuit in downtown San Jose.

S?bastien Bourdais.
Photo by Tom Haapanen.
Two-time defending series champion Sebastien Bourdais rode his Newman Two-time defending series champion Sebastien Bourdais rode his Newman Haas Lola Ford to a blistering time of 48.989 seconds (106.040 mph), setting the pole position time in front of a large crowd. There was no doubt about the winning time today, which was over a third of a second faster than the time Paul Tracy set on Friday -- when the difference was measured in thousandths of a second.

"It was a very good day overall for us," Bourdais said. "It was a really good first run. It just kept building up slowly, and the more I ran, the more the car was giving me."

Local boy A.J. Allmendinger came in with the second best time on the day at 49.264 seconds (105.448 mph), but starts in third for the race due to the provisional pole time set by Tracy during Friday's qualifying session.

Tracy's quickest lap today was disallowed due to a blocking penalty he received at the end of the session. It was no consequence to the 2003 series champion, however, as his place on row one had been locked in some 24-hours earlier with his provisional pole lap.

Former champion Christiano da Matta did a fine job for his new team, RuSPORT Racing. His time of 49.659 seconds (104.609 mph) was third best on Saturday and placed him firmly on the second row, directly behind Tracy.

It was another quick start for Tracy, as he jumped out first as the green flag flew starting the session. Bourdais however had a different plan and didn't wait quite as long to come out as he did the previous day. Within a few laps he was topping the charts once again.

"We would have liked to been on the pole today but we didn't have enough," said a disappointed Tracy, alluding to the record lap set by rival Bourdais.

Justin Wilson, running second in the championship, didn't have such a great afternoon. During the pre-qualifying practice, Wilson slid into a tire wall, and then had to wait beyond half way into qualifying before his team had the backup car prepared.

Allmendinger was much more controlled today, as compared to his run on Friday. Hometown jitters caused the three-time race winner to slide off into an escape road yesterday and possibly cost him the provisional pole.

As soon as Allmendinger put out a good time, Bourdais responded with another quick lap, eventually lowering it down to his pole-setting time. No one was able to challenge, and a last-lap effort by A.J. failed to even break the 48-second barrier.

"As soon as you put a wheel off, that's it, you've lost your quick time," Allmendinger said. "But you really have to have a great team effort to win races, if you don't have a great effort from everyone, there's just no way you can win.

The starting line-up for Sunday's race looks like an excellent opportunity for drivers to move up in the championship battle. Wilson will need a super-human effort to get into the top five and keep Bourdais in his sites. Allmendinger would benefit greatly if Bourdais dropped out for some reason, and the first turn after the start of the race will be extremely important.

"There's a big bump in the braking area on the left side of the track going into the hairpin." Tracy said. "I just want to get through Turn One clean. From there everyone is going to go as fast as they can, but we have to make it cleanly through Turn One first.

"I don't know what I going to do after the first lap," Allmendinger said of the start. "There may be guys out there running a lot of different pit strategies. It may come down to when the yellow flags come out."

From the front runners on rows one and two, Oriol Servia will start fifth followed by rookie Will Power, Bruno Junqueira, Andrew Ranger, another rookie in Dan Clarke and Mario Dominguez rounds out the top ten.

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Series INDYCAR