CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach: Team Player's Friday report

Fast-paced Tracy takes provisional pole in Long Beach qualifying; Carpentier is 4th quickest. Long Beach, California, April 11, 2003 Paul Tracy, of Team Player's, who was the fastest driver in both morning practice sessions on Friday, ...

Fast-paced Tracy takes provisional pole in Long Beach qualifying; Carpentier is 4th quickest.

Long Beach, California, April 11, 2003 Paul Tracy, of Team Player's, who was the fastest driver in both morning practice sessions on Friday, carried that momentum into afternoon qualifying as he won the Champ Car World Series provisional pole and assured himself of a front-row start for Sunday's Grand Prix of Long Beach.

It is the third time in as many races that Tracy has qualified on the front row. He has won the first two races of the season from the No. 2 spot on the grid. In addition to securing another front row position on Friday, Tracy added a point in the drivers' standings, which he leads by 12 points (44-32) over runner-up, Michel Jourdain of Mexico. Tracy's best lap around the 1.968-mile street circuit was in a time of 1 minute, 9.079 seconds, an average speed of 102.561 mph; 165.056 km/h.

Tracy's teammate Patrick Carpentier, who held the provisional pole early in today's session before dropping back, was resurgent in the final minutes of the session and recorded the fourth fastest lap (1:09.406 and 102.078 mph; 164.278 km/h). Brazilian Bruno Junqueira and his teammate, French-born rookie Sebastien Bourdais, were second and third respectively.

"It's a great start to the weekend for Team Player's," said Tracy, who with a third straight win to open the season would match a feat that hasn't been done in a major motorsports series since Al Unser Sr. took three in a row to begin the season in the 1971 USAC Champ Car series. "The car was good coming out this morning, and it kept getting better every time out. We don't know what the weather is going to be like on Sunday, so it's important to lock up that front-row position."

Tracy surged to P1 on the leader chart after his first few qualifying laps, only to be displaced by Junqueira. But Tracy exited the pits with just over eight minutes to go in the session and after a couple of warm-up laps, regained the pole. "I was ready to improve on that time at the end, but then the red flag came out and that was it for the session," he noted.

The red flag brought out when Roberto Moreno hit Tracy from behind then backed into a tire wall also prevented Carpentier from registering a hot lap that he felt would have put him in the top three.

"I'm certainly not disappointed with fourth, especially considering the fact I've never qualified higher than 17th here in Long Beach," remarked Carpentier. "We have a very good car and we'll hope to do even better tomorrow. Right now, the car is pushing in the middle of the corner, and I'm lifting off. Team Player's will have to fix the front end to make it better."

Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the Grand Prix of Long Beach throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race on tape delay on the The Sports Network at 7:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.

-tp-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Roberto Moreno , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Al Unser Sr. , Sébastien Bourdais , Michel Jourdain