CHAMPCAR/CART: Houston: Saturday qualifying report

WILL POWER TO LEAD THE CHAMP CAR FIELD TO THE GREEN FLAG AT THE GRAND PRIX OF HOUSTON HOUSTON (April 21, 2007) -- Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States, is notorious for traffic snarls and on Saturday afternoon at JAGFlo Speedway...

WILL POWER TO LEAD THE CHAMP CAR FIELD TO THE GREEN FLAG AT THE GRAND PRIX OF HOUSTON

HOUSTON (April 21, 2007) -- Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States, is notorious for traffic snarls and on Saturday afternoon at JAGFlo Speedway at Reliant Park it looked more like an evening rush hour than a race track. When all the dust had settled Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) had set the fastest lap in qualifying but was penalized for qualifying interference awarding the pole position to Team Australia's Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) after the Australian turned in a best lap of 57.405 (105.545 mph).

Sebastien Bourdais will start from the second position after securing a front row starting spot by posting the fastest qualifying time during Friday's session. Last year, Bourdais started fifth at Reliant Park and went on to win.

The congestion began after Katherine Legge (#11 Dale Coyne Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) brought out a red flag early in the session when she spun at the exit of Turn 4 and blocked the track. As the green flag flew minutes later nearly every driver in the field entered the track ready to post a fast lap. The tight confines of the street circuit combined with the traffic on course led to many drivers feeling they had better cars than their qualifying times showed.

Even with all of the traffic out on the course the drivers continued to improve their times throughout the session until a late red flag brought out by Bruno Junqueira (#19 Sonny's Bar-B-Q Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) ended the session with the red and checkered flags.

Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) will start on the inside of the second row after posting a time of 57.533 (105.310 mph). Starting alongside the Brit will be rookie Neel Jani (#21 RedBull Gulfstream Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) who had his best Champ Car qualifying session, posting the fourth fastest time at 57.753 (104.909 mph).

2005 championship runner-up Oriol Servia (#3 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) who is continuing in his substitute role for Paul Tracy continued to shorten his learning curve in the DP01 qualifying fifth with a lap of 57.790 (104.842 mph). Hot on Servia's heels were rookies Graham Rahal (#2 Medi|Zone Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) and Simon Pagenaud (#15 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) who will start the Grand Prix of Houston sixth and seventh respectively.

Rookie Tristan Gommendy (#22 Pay By Touch Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) put the second PKV racing entry in the top 10, qualifying eight while Mario Dominguez (#7 Telmex Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) will start ninth. Junqueira will start 10th. Starting 11th will be Alex Tagliani (#8 LXN2 Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) who also lost his fastest lap in qualifying for an unsafe reentry onto the race course.

Roberto Moreno (#29 Imperial Capital Bank Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) will make his first Champ Car start since 2003, filling in for the injured Alex Figge. Moreno logged many miles in the DP01 while serving as a test driver during the development of the new car. The Brazilian was serving as a driver coach and engineering liaison for Pacific Coast Motorsports before being called into duty.

The timed event will begin at 2:00 p.m. local time (3:00 p.m. Eastern) and can be seen live on ESPN. Fans can also follow all of the action via the official website of the Champ Car World Series, www.champcar.ws.

QUOTES FROM THE TOP THREE FINISHERS

Will Power: "We are very happy. Obviously it's not the best way to get pole, because Sebastien did have the quickest lap, but we were on a hot lap and he blocked us. I lost my quickest lap yesterday for blocking Justin Wilson and the rules are the rules. I just want to thank the guys because they gave me a great, quick car and now we just need to win another race."

Sebastien Bourdais: "I think I am the kind of guy that admits when I have done something wrong and I do not think this is the case. The only reason why Walker protested is because they saw the potential that they could nail us, not because they were quicker because they were slow on that lap. It would not have changed the outcome whether I interfered on that lap, tried to or tried to get out of the way or anything. They don't care about that. It's just like a payback that goes on and on and on. If they can nail us they are just going to nail us. They protested and Champ Car ruled in their favor but the truth is the only reason they protested is because they could nail us. That lap would not have changed the outcome of qualifying."

Justin Wilson: "I'm just very pleased with the progress we're making now. Hopefully it will continue and we can race well. We found at Long Beach we could race very well. We just started at the wrong end of the grid. You start in the middle, it's very hard to improve. Here starting at the front, I hope we can have a good race tomorrow and finish at least on the podium if not somewhere near the top of the podium for CDW."

-credit: ccws

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Bruno Junqueira , Roberto Moreno , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Graham Rahal , Mario Dominguez , Sébastien Bourdais , Katherine Legge , Alex Figge , Neel Jani , Tristan Gommendy , Will Power , Simon Pagenaud , Dale Coyne
Teams Dale Coyne Racing