CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach Saturday qualifying Herdez Bettenhausen

<pre> Qualifying quotes - Michel Jourdain Jr. Grand Prix of Long Beach - Round ...

<pre> Qualifying quotes - Michel Jourdain Jr. Grand Prix of Long Beach - Round #2 - Saturday, April 7, 2001 Car #16, Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Firestone

Speed: 101.809 mph Time: 1 minute, 9.589 seconds Position: 7th </pre> In a wild qualifying session for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Long Beach, Michel Jourdain Jr. put in an impressive showing, posting the fastest time of the first group of qualifiers. Rain began falling at the very end of the first group's stint, which was punctuated by four red-flag stoppages to retrieve or restart stranded cars.

The faster group of qualifiers was faced with a track that started out wet, keeping times down, but began drying quickly in the southern California sun. Through it all, Jourdain held the pole until the final three minutes of qualifying, ultimately settling for seventh position for the start of tomorrow's 82-lap event.

"That was maybe the hardest time of my life watching that final few minutes of qualifying! For sure, we were praying for more rain! I knew it was going to be hard to hold the pole but it was exciting anyway. But even during our time on track it wasn't completely dry. There was a place on the back straight where the water was still running across the track and I had to be very careful through there. I got a little sideways there a couple of times and it made it hard to get a 100% perfect lap because it was so wet back there.

We had a good off-season of testing and, except for a few small mistakes at Monterrey we would have had a very good first race. Now, we have a chance to fight for a podium finish tomorrow and that is very good for everyone at the team, not just for me. Our goal for the day was to be the fastest in our group because that is the only thing we can control. We did that and the rest is up to the others. The car is very good. We have to be smart, not make any mistakes, have good pit strategy - all those things - to have a good result tomorrow."

Managing Director Keith Wiggins, echoed Jourdain's quiet confidence. "We did everything we could do in the circumstances we were presented with. I'll be honest and say that I thought the times would be faster overall and maybe we could have gone a little quicker too. But overall, we are happy with where we ended up and feel like we're in a good position for tomorrow."

Fast Facts

* Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach marks Jourdain's 83rd start in the CART FedEx Championship Series and his 80th consecutive start (beginning at Vancouver in 1996), placing him fifth among active drivers in consecutive career starts.

* At his first event, Long Beach 1996, Jourdain made history by becoming the youngest driver ever to start a Champ Car event at 19 years, six months and two days old.

* Best finishes to date: Jourdain: 7th place at Elkhart Lake's Road America in 1999 and the streets of Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia in 2000.

Herdez Bettenhausen: 2nd place: Gateway, 1997 with Patrick Carpentier and Milwaukee, 1998 with Helio Castroneves.

-Herdez Bettenhausen

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Patrick Carpentier , Michel Jourdain