After a struggle to get his season off the ground, the first qualifying session of the Monterey Grand Prix may well prove to be the turning point of Kenny Brack's season. The Target Chip Ganassi driver fought hard to take the provisional Pole ...
After a struggle to get his season off the ground, the first qualifying session of the Monterey Grand Prix may well prove to be the turning point of Kenny Brack's season. The Target Chip Ganassi driver fought hard to take the provisional Pole Position from the on-form Cristiano da Matta in a straight fight at the undulating 2.238-mile Laguna Seca circuit.
"It's great to be at the top of the charts and we've been waiting for this for a long time," said the delighted Swede. "Tomorrow will be significantly faster and we need to make sure we follow the conditions and... I like the new rules!"
Brack is now guaranteed a front row start for the Grand prix of Monterey and picks up one valuable championship point as a result, moving him up to joint 13th in the current standings, alongside Patrick Carpentier. Cristiano da Matta dominated practice but had to make do with second fastest overall today, but his Newman/Haas Lola Toyota will undoubtedly be challenging for the Pole tomorrow afternoon in California.
Carpentier was third fastest and was just one of three drivers on track as the final minutes ticked away. The Canadian improved his grid position, but lost his Players Reynard Cosworth on his last lap exiting turn ten, backing the car into the tire barrier. Still, Carpentier admitted that he 'would take third any day' and it was another strong performance from the Reynard runner.
Tony Kanaan was fourth fastest in his Mo Nunn machine, despite this being the first time that the Brazilian has run the Lola chassis on a road course.
Christian Fittipaldi provisionally qualified in a fine fifth position in the second Toyota powered Newman/Haas entry, ahead of the second Ganassi car of, Motegi winner, Bruno Junqueira.
Alex Tagliani took to his spare Team Players car to set the seventh fastest time following his heavy crash in practice in which he came across Christian Fittipaldi moving at slow speed out of fuel.
Townsend Bell, undoubtedly under severe pressure to bring his Patrick car home in one piece this weekend, was a solid eighth fastest at the circuit, at which he claimed his Indy Lights championship last season ahead of Jimmy Vasser and Milwaukee pole-man, Adrian Fernandez.
Mario Dominguez did a solid job in his newly numbered Herdez Competition #55 car to take 11th position ahead of 2001 winner Max Papis in his Sigma Autosport entry.
Paul Tracy made the best of a difficult day for the Team Green team by taking the 13th fastest time on a day that the team and sister outfit Team Motorola really struggled with their setup. Teammate Dario Franchitti, who lies just seven points adrift of championship leader Michael Jourdain Jr was slowest of all, a full 2.036 seconds slower than pace-setter Kenny Brack. Michael Andretti was just 17th.
Michel Jourdain Jr may well be leading the championship, but if his pace today in the Team Rahal Lola Cosworth is anything to go by, the Mexican may find his lead short lived. Jourdain Jr was half a second slower than teammate Jimmy Vasser and was just 16th fastest overall.
Saturday practice at Laguna Seca gets underway at 1pm ET tomorrow afternoon and all eyes will be on Cristiano da Matta and Kenny Brack as they prepare their qualifying showdown to claim the Pole position at Monterey.