CHAMPCAR/CART: Denver: Saturday qualifying report

Sebastien Bourdais Wins Champ Car Pole in Denver DENVER (August 14, 2004) -- After leading first-day qualifying for the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver, Friday leader Sebastien Bourdais ( ...

Sebastien Bourdais Wins Champ Car Pole in Denver

DENVER (August 14, 2004) -- After leading first-day qualifying for the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver, Friday leader Sebastien Bourdais (#2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) said that he thought that there was still a second to be found on the 1.657-mile street track that winds around Denver's Pepsi Center during Saturday's final round of Champ Car qualifying.

What Bourdais didn't mention was that he was the only guy that was going to find that time as he set a new track record of 59.942 seconds (99.516 mph). Bourdais was dominant in taking the pole for Sunday's 90-lap Champ Car World Series event, besting the field by more than a half-second and posting two other laps that still would have been good enough to put him on the pole.

The pole is the fifth of the season and the 10th of the young career of Bourdais, who will start in the top three for the ninth-consecutive event, setting a Champ Car Modern Era (1979-Present) for most consecutive top-three starts to begin a season. His polewinning run led a 1-2 qualifying effort for the Newman/Haas squad as Bruno Junqueira (#6 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) took the second spot on the charts with a best lap of 60.525 seconds (98.558 mph). The team will occupy both spots in the front row for the third time this year, with the Newman/Haas guys leading a second row made up of Forsythe Championship Racing machines.

Junqueira took the long road to get to a front-row starting spot, ending his first stint with a brief spin that resulted in light contact with the tire barrier. The Brazilian returned to Pit Lane for repairs and got back out on track late in the 35-minute session, using the last of his 15 laps to vault into the second spot on the grid. The two-time defending race winner in Denver, Junqueira will start in the front row for the third consecutive Denver event.

The Newman/Haas sweep relegated the Forsythe duo of Paul Tracy (#1 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Patrick Carpentier (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) to third and fourth respectively, Tracy taking the third position on the grid with a time of 60.588 seconds (98.455 mph). Tracy had the last chance to upend Bourdais from his perch on the pole, but would fall short and settle for the third spot. Carpentier will start fourth for the fourth time this season after carding a time of 60.595 seconds (98.444 mph), a time that was just .007 seconds behind his teammate.

Mario Dominguez (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will start fifth on Sunday despite the fact that he spent the entire final session watching from the team's war wagon. Dominguez, who put up the second-best time of the day on Friday, suffered engine problems during the pre-qualifying warmup session and was unable to run in today's qualifying. He will start on the third row alongside Oriol Servia (#11 YokeTV.com Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone).

Servia continues to do yeoman work for the Dale Coyne Racing squad, earning his best starting spot of the season after putting up a time 60.813 seconds (98.091 mph). Servia's sixth-place starting spot is the best for the Dale Coyne Racing team since 1998, marking the second-consecutive weekend that the Spaniard has reached that benchmark.

Rookie points leader A.J. Allmendinger (#10 Western Union Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) made up for a miscue that cost him a shot at yesterday's qualifying by snaring the seventh position for Sunday's race. Allmendinger scored the seventh spot for tomorrow's race after posting a time of 60.907 seconds (97.939 mph). The Californian will start seventh for the second week in a row, joining Ryan Hunter-Reay (#4 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) in the fourth row. Hunter-Reay will start eighth after earning a best time of 61.072 seconds (97.675 mph).

Mario Haberfeld (#5 Cummins Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) earned the ninth spot on Sunday's grid by virtue of his Friday time of 61.198 seconds (97.474 mph). The starting spot is the best of the year for Haberfeld and the Walker Racing team, and is the best of the season for a Reynard driver as well.

Justin Wilson (#34 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) rounded out the top 10 after putting up a best time 61.265 seconds (97.367 mph), besting Road America winner Alex Tagliani (#8 Johnson Controls Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) by a microscopic .001 seconds, dropping Tagliani to 11th on the grid.

Nelson Philippe (#14 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) makes his return to the Champ Car World Series this weekend, taking over the Mi-Jack Conquest ride after a three-race absence and earned his best starting spot of the season with a 14th-place grid spot. The qualifying result is the best for Philippe as well as for the #14 machine, which had been in the hands of Alex Sperafico for the first eight events of the season.

The 90-lap event will get underway Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. Mountain Time and can be seen live on HDNet as well as on a tape-delayed on Spike TV. Fans can also follow all the action on the official website of the series, www.champcarworldseries.com, by using the site's Race Director pedal.

QUOTES FROM THE TOP THREE QUALIFIERS

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (#2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "I am happy to be able to post a time in the 59 (second) mark, the McDonald's car was great and the team really did a fantastic job. Last year was a struggle for me here in Denver, so I have really been trying to improve myself. This track is much different from the other ones we race at, so it requires a different driving strategy. The car was fast out of the truck, so we have been really pleased this weekend. It will be a good race car for tomorrow."

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (#6 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "I have really been struggling here. We did so well last, however it is a little different this time. Bridgestone has developed really good tires here that are softer, so it is a lot faster out there. We had a good set-up last year that we were trying to use again; however, it is no good here this year. We have made a lot of changes this weekend and the car is still not perfect. It was good to get the (qualifying) lap we did this afternoon. The PacifiCare car is ok, we'll put up a fight tomorrow."

PAUL TRACY (#1 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "That is all we had. That lap Sebastien did, we just could not compete with that. We knew we had no chance to beat that time. Pat and I have a very similar car and it is good to be starting on the second row with him. We are optimistic for the race tomorrow. It is a difficult track and a very long race, so we will see what happens tomorrow."

NOTEWORTHY

* Sebastien Bourdais has earned his 10th career Champ Car pole in just 27 starts, making him the third-fastest driver to get to 10 poles. Only Nigel Mansell (25 starts) and Juan Montoya (26 starts) have gotten to 10 poles quicker than Bourdais.

* Oriol Servia's sixth-place starting spot is the best for a Dale Coyne Racing machine since Gualter Salles qualified fourth in Long Beach in 1998.

-ccws-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Mario Haberfeld , Justin Wilson , Gualter Salles , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Nigel Mansell , Mario Dominguez , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Alex Sperafico , Nelson Philippe , Dale Coyne
Teams Dale Coyne Racing