Michel Jourdain Jr. banks first career pole position. Leads another nine-car Lola freight train in Long Beach. At the site of his initial Champ Car start, Michel Jourdain Jr. swept to his first pole position in his eighth CART season and 123rd...
Michel Jourdain Jr. banks first career pole position.
Leads another nine-car Lola freight train in Long Beach.
At the site of his initial Champ Car start, Michel Jourdain Jr. swept to his first pole position in his eighth CART season and 123rd start. Driving the #9 Gigante Lola/Ford around the 1.968-mile Long Beach street circuit, Jourdain vanquished 18 foes with a lap of 68.177 seconds (103.918mph). "This is a great feeling," Jourdain exhaled. "The whole weekend the car has been really, really good on old or new [Bridgestone] tires. If you want to improve, you have to take chances," he noted, giving Team Rahal its first pole since Jimmy Vasser was quickest at the 2002 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
By virtue of his quick time in provisional qualifying, Paul Tracy starts second in the #3 Team Player's Lola/Ford. Tracy went out midway through the 40-minute session "and on my second lap I brushed the wall so I'm disappointed with myself. I wanted to back up yesterday's lap," the Canadian said. "We only used one set of tires during the session, so we've got four new sets for the race, which is more important."
Alex Tagliani earned third starting slot in the #33 Johnson Controls Lola/Ford with a lap of 68.371 seconds (103.623mph). Despite losing his engineer just a couple of weeks ago, Tagliani (with two new engineers who lack Champ Car experience) noted, "We came here with an open mind and didn't want to change the car too much. I called my engineer from last year and he gave me his setup notes for Long Beach," he said. "We're staying basic with the setup and not doing anything weird. It's been a good car out of the box and I really like the Lola. We'll see if we're smart enough to keep this up."
Newman/Haas teammates Bruno Junqueira (#1 PacifiCare Lola/Ford) and Sebastien Bourdais (#2 Lilly Lola/Ford) will start 4th and 5th, respectively, while Tracy's teammate Patrick Carpentier (#32 Team Player's Lola/Ford earned the 6th starting position. On a picture perfect Southern California day with temperatures hovering at the 70-degree mark, Adrian Fernandez placed the #51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Lola/Ford 7th on the grid. Spaniard Oriol Servia took the #20 Visteon Lola/Ford to 8th place overall, while Roberto Moreno hustled the #4 Herdez Lola/Ford to 9th place for Sunday's 90-lap race.
Ten cars qualified within Jourdain's quick lap and the 19-car field is separated by less than four seconds. It was the volatile Tracy who had the final word at the close of the session: "We always have a great race here with plenty of drama. I don't see why, if the skies stay clear (and they always have) we won't have another one tomorrow."