In a last lap dash, Aussie Will Power grabbed the provisional pole during the opening round of qualifying for the 33rd Long Beach Grand Prix as the Champ Car World Series Powered by Cosworth make their annual stop in Southern California.
Coming off his season-opening victory on the streets of Las Vegas last weekend, Power edged closer and closer to three-time defending champion Sebastien Bourdais' top time until his final circuit on the 11-turn, 1.968-mile course.
"On the first stint I was running really hard to find good balance in the car." Power said. "Sebastien was hot on his second run. I thought it was going to be really hard to beat him, even with the red tires. So I got a good run on the last lap and here we are on the pole."
Power's time of 1:07.920 (104.311 mph), was just a touch better then Bourdais at 1:07.970 (104.234 mph).
Rookie Simon Pagenaud, Power's teammate at Team Australia, took third best of the afternoon with a 1:08.200 (103.883 mph), followed by Canadians Alex Tagliani at 1:08.304 (103.725 mph) and Paul Tracy with his 1:08.573 (103.318 mph).
Returning this season to Forsythe Championship Racing is Mexico's Mario Dominguez. Dominguez left Forsythe midway through the 2006 campaign, replaced by series runner-up A.J. Allmendinger who has now moved on to stock cars.
Pagenaud accomplished his best lap during the final minutes as well. The young Frenchman qualified fourth quickest last weekend to go along with his fine effort today.
"I have pretty high expectations for the season." Pagenaud said. "Everything is really new for me. I just need a little more experience and I'll be right there. I have pretty high expectations for the championship. We're battling with Sebastien and with my teammate."
Running on the softer compound Bridgestone tires, Bourdais notched three hot laps mid-way through the session posting a top time more than half a second better than his closest competitor.
That time held up well and looked like it would give Bourdais his first pole of the season after a dismal effort in Vegas.
"I think it was a good session." Bourdais said of his run. "I think we really need to get ourselves back together after the terrible weekend we had in Vegas. It worked out all right. It was just not enough. Team Australia definitely has the mixture together. We'll try harder tomorrow."
Seventeen drivers qualified in the opening round. Rounding out the top ten were rookies Tristan Gommendy and Graham Rahal in seventh and eighth, followed by veterans Bruno Junqueira and Justin Wilson.
Power eared one valuable championship point for today's effort, stretching his series lead to seven points over rookie Robert Doornbos. He's guaranteed a front row starting position for Sunday's race; now three times on the front row in his past four races going back to Australia 2006 where he earned his first career pole.