CHAMPCAR/CART: Junqueira sits on provisional pole in Denver

Performing in the new single-car qualifying format introduced by CART this weekend, Bruno Junquiera took full advantage of a freshly paved racing surface and claimed provisional pole in the thin air of Denver.

"I'm very pleased to have single car qualifying here in Denver," the Newman/Haas driver said. "Getting the tires up to temperature is tough, even though the Bridgestones are great tires. But if you don't push, you're going slow so it's a compromise. I'm pleased to be back on the pole here.

Bruno Junqueira.
Photo by Dan Streck.
"Junky", as he's affectionately known to his competitors, upstaged his own pole position time from last year's event, turning a lap of 1:01.438 (96.507 mph) in the "best-of-three" effort.

Flanking Junquiera in the number two spot is Adrian Fernandez. His time of 1:01.583 (96.280 mph) was the best during the first half of qualifying.

The Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford points leader, Paul Tracy, could only muster fourth best in the afternoon, as he took to the racetrack shortly after Herdez driver Mario Dominguez crashed into a cement barrier.

The crash caused Tracy to abort his first hot lap as he came up quickly on the incident and had to pit before getting into further trouble.

"The whole thing got messed up when Dominguez crashed," Tracy said of the situation. "I guess you can't call this single car qualifying if there are two cars on the track at the same time. It's frustrating. We still have power left in the Player's car, so we will see what we can do tomorrow (Saturday)."

Brit Darren Manning showed what he's made of when he took an under-performing Reynard Chassis to third on the grid by clocking a time at 1:01.869 (95.835 mph).

The Reynard, which has recently seen a slight resurgence, mainly with the stellar performance of Ryan Hunter-Reay who finished third after qualifying second two weeks ago in Mid-Ohio, may have found a level playing field her the Rocky Mountains.

"I really can't quantify why the Reynards are successful thus far here." Manning said. "We have been making leaps and gaining experience the last few races. But the last few races taught us a lot, especially in Mid-Ohio. Maybe it's the high altitude that's contributing to the overall lack of downforce, evening out the field."

With thunderstorms in the distance threatening to dampen Saturday's qualifying session, this field may already be set for a good 'ol Western shoot-out in the hills of Colorado come Sunday ... Yee-ha!