CHAMPCAR/CART: Junqueira finally gets first pole of '03 at Road America

CHAMPCAR/CART: Junqueira finally gets first pole of '03 at Road America

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin - Bruno Junqueira took the pole for the Mario Andretti Grand Prix of Road America this afternoon, turning a fast lap time of 1:43.703 seconds (140.524 mph.) Junqueira has been the dominant driver of the weekend, going...

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin - Bruno Junqueira took the pole for the Mario Andretti Grand Prix of Road America this afternoon, turning a fast lap time of 1:43.703 seconds (140.524 mph.) Junqueira has been the dominant driver of the weekend, going fastest in Friday's first round of qualifying and again fastest this morning in the 75 minute practice session.

"This year we have been several times on the Friday pole then lost the pole by just a few thousandths (of a second), so I am very happy to be on the pole," he said.

Bruno Junqueira.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
Second fastest on both days was Junqueira's Newman/Haas teammate, Sebastien Bourdais. Rookie Bourdais continues to impress with his speed and skill, looking good here in his first race weekend on the scenic Wisconsin track. He commented about the problems caused by his lack of experience here: "I made a little mistake each time and could not put together my best lap."

Forsythe Racing's Patrick Carpentier was third today and will start behind Junqueira. Carpentier credited a small change to his setup with his improvement. "It's pretty balanced. We don't seem to be using the front or the rear more than the other so I can attack the corners," he said.

Carpentier's teammate and Champ Car points leader Paul Tracy, was only sixth fastest and will start from row three, his second worst start of the year (at Lausitz his team had brought the wrong wing setup.)

Lining up between the two Canadian teammates will be Oriol Servia and Mario Dominguez. Also qualifying in the top ten were Jimmy Vasser, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Adrian Fernandez and Michel Jourdain, Jr.

Four drivers hit the track as soon as the green flag waved for today's qualifying: Mario Haberfeld, Rodolfo Lavin, Hunter-Reay and Gualter Salles. Geoff Boss and Mario Dominguez soon joined them, and the six made their first hot laps with a clear track. Hunter-Reay was fastest of this group and held the top time for the session (and seventh-best for the weekend so far) when the red flag waved after 12 minutes for Salles' stalled car to be towed in. Hunter-Reay's time of 1:44.910 was nearly 1.5 seconds faster than he managed in the Friday session.

Haberfeld was second fastest, to record his first time of the weekend. He had missed the Friday qualifying while Team Conquest repaired damage from a crash in the pre-qualifying warm up. His early time was fast enough to put him into the top ten of the overall times to that point.

When the green waved again, the majority of the field hit the track for the start of their laps. After a lap to get the cars up to speed and the tires warm, the fast times started to appear. Bourdais, Carpentier, Tracy, and Vasser all bettered their Friday times and held the top five spots (behind Junqueira's provisional pole time from Friday.)

Jourdain Jr. and Servia also beat their Friday times and Hunter-Reay's earlier fast lap to make the top 10 before the session's second red flag. This time it was to drag Darren Manning's car out of a gravel trap.

Once the green came out again, there remained less than nine minutes in the session, and all nineteen Champ Car drivers took to Road America's four-mile course at once.

Servia was the first to move up in this segment, taking third-best time. With just a minute left in the session, Junqueira bettered his Friday time to win his second point of the weekend and confirm the pole. After the checked flags had waved to end the session, Carpentier, Dominguez and Vasser turned their best times of the weekend to move up to third, fifth, and seventh, respectively.

Walker Racing's drivers Manning and Lavin were the only drivers who could not improve in today's session and they will start 14th and 17th. This was especially disappointing for Manning, who had been running in or near the top five all weekend.

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Series INDYCAR