CHAMPCAR/CART: Las Vegas: Saturday qualifying report

WILL POWER BLITZES FIELD TO WIN POLE FOR 2007 CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES SEASON OPENER IN LAS VEGAS LAS VEGAS (April 7, 2007) -- One of legendary pitcher Satchel Paige's essential rules of life contained the phrase 'Don't look back, something might...

WILL POWER BLITZES FIELD TO WIN POLE FOR 2007 CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES SEASON OPENER IN LAS VEGAS

LAS VEGAS (April 7, 2007) -- One of legendary pitcher Satchel Paige's essential rules of life contained the phrase 'Don't look back, something might be gaining on you'.

The saying has a new significance to those drivers and teams that have dominated the Champ Car World Series in recent seasons as Team Australia's Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) led a Champ Car youth movement in winning the pole for tomorrow's season-opening Vegas Grand Prix.

And Power's second career pole was just the beginning of the youth movement as rookies Robert Doornbos (#14 Muermans/Jumbo Supermarkten/Mediamall Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) and Simon Pagenaud (#15 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) scored top-five starting spots while established stars struggled to find results on a warm Saturday afternoon in Vegas.

Power's track-record time of 1:17.629 (113.154 mph) around the 2.44-mile Vegas street course was nearly a full second ahead of second-placed Doornbos, who will start third in his first-ever Champ Car event. Power and Doornbos were joined in the top three by veteran star Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone), who earned a front-row grid position by virtue of leading Friday's qualifying. The guaranteed starting spot ended up being a blessing to Tracy, who ran only the ninth-quickest time in Saturday's final round.

Power needed just four laps to eclipse Tracy's Friday-leading time, but nearly saw it all go for naught as his gearbox pressure caused him to roll to a stop on the course with 10 minutes left on the session clock. Luckily, Power's grinding halt came after action had already been halted, having been stopped by a red flag flown for Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone).

Bourdais had been running second in the order and had posted a time that would have put him sixth on the final grid, but right-side contact not only left him unable to continue, it cost him his best time of the day and left him 17th on tomorrow's race grid -- the worst starting spot in Bourdais' 60-race Champ Car career.

To seal the deal, Power came out after being towed back to the pits and ran his best lap of the day, setting the new track record. Doornbos used his 12th lap of qualifying to post his best time, stopping the clocks at 1:18.515 (111.877 mph) to snare the third spot.

Alex Tagliani (#8 LXN2 Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) gave his new RSPORTS mount a strong ride, carrying it to a fourth-place starting spot, matching his best effort from 2006. Tagliani hung his best time of 1:18.850 (111.401 mph) on the last of his 10 laps while Pagenaud jumped into the fifth position on the grid by scoring his best lap on the last of his 11 track trips.

Dale Coyne Racing had its best qualifying result in more than two seasons today as Bruno Junqueira (#19 Sonny's Bar-B-Q Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) qualified sixth with a time of 1:19.102 (111.046 mph), giving Coyne its best starting spot since Oriol Servia started fifth at Mexico City in 2004.

Junqueira was followed by Mario Dominguez (#7 Telmex/Cabi Developers Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) and Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone, with rookies Neel Jani (#21 Red Bull/Gulfstream Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) and Graham Rahal (#2 MEDI|ZONE Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) rounding out the top 10.

Tomorrow's season-opener gets underway at 1:00 p.m. local time (4:00 p.m. Eastern Time), with live coverage beginning at 3:30 Eastern on NBC. Fans can follow all of the action live via the Race Director on the official website of the Champ Car World Series, www.champcar.ws.

QUOTES FROM THE TOP THREE FINISHERS

Will Power: We worked on it, worked on the setup all the way up until qualifying today. Pretty much nailed it at the end, got a good run in traffic. Yeah, we did a mega lap. But it all started in the off-season. I think Craig and Derrick Walker from the end of last year till now, they've been working really hard. They got -- they really want to win a championship. I want to help them do that.

Paul Tracy: I think it's going to be important for everybody to get through the first corner and go racing. I think this is the start of a new era for Champ Car. You've got a bunch of new young drivers that are in the series, obviously showing that they're quick. It's not the scenario that everybody thought it was going to be where everybody was saying in the off-season, Sebastien is going to run away with everything. He's starting near the back. It's going to be quite an interesting race.

Robert Doornbos: Yeah, it went really well. Just in the end we pushed hard. The red tires was a new thing for me. I had no chance to try them in winter testing because obviously they were not there. So the first outing wasn't great. Then the second run on the red tires, we made some adjustments to the car and it was a lot better.

NOTEWORTHY

* Will Power's pole for the 2007 season opener, when combined with his pole in Surfers Paradise at the end of last season, gives Power two pole wins in his last three starts.

* Sebastien Bourdais will start 16th in tomorrow's opener, marking the first time in 54 races that Bourdais has not started in the top 10. The last time Bourdais started out of the top 10 was in Milwaukee in 2003 where he started 13th.

* Robert Doornbos starts third in his Champ Car debut, marking the best qualifying effort by a debuting rookie since Sebastien Bourdais won the pole for the 2003 season opener in St. Petersburg.

-credit: ccww

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Bruno Junqueira , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Graham Rahal , Mario Dominguez , Sébastien Bourdais , Robert Doornbos , Neel Jani , Will Power , Simon Pagenaud , Dale Coyne
Teams Dale Coyne Racing