CHAMPCAR/CART: San Jose: Qualifying report

SERIES POINTS LEADER SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS PACES CHAMP CAR QUALIFYING TO TAKE BRIDGESTONE POLE AWARD FOR INAUGURAL TAYLOR WOODROW GRAND PRIX OF SAN JOSE SAN JOSE, California (July 30, 2005) -- By nature, an inaugural racing event lends itself to...

SERIES POINTS LEADER SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS PACES CHAMP CAR QUALIFYING TO TAKE BRIDGESTONE POLE AWARD FOR INAUGURAL TAYLOR WOODROW GRAND PRIX OF SAN JOSE

SAN JOSE, California (July 30, 2005) -- By nature, an inaugural racing event lends itself to a number of firsts.

But on a Chamber-of-Commerce weather day that saw 50,962 fans come to the first event in San Jose, the man to be the first to win a Champ Car pole was hardly a first-timer at all as Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) scored his third pole of the season and the 16th of his series career.

Bourdais lapped the 1.443-mile San Jose street course in a track-record 54.243 seconds (96.101 mph) to score the Bridgestone Pole Award, making him the first driver to win the award three times during the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season.

Bourdais led a 1-2 Newman/Haas Racing sweep in the first San Jose qualifying session, besting stablemate Oriol Servia (#2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) by a scant 0.062 seconds to score the pole. Servia scored his first front-row start since 2003 with a time of 54.305 seconds (95.991 mph) while Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) took the third spot and kept his streak alive that has seen him qualify in the top five of every race so far this season.

Due to the cancellation of yesterday's scheduled qualifying session, Champ Car Race Control removed the lap restrictions from today's only round of qualifying, allowing drivers to run as many laps as possible in pursuit of the pole instead of the normal 15 laps. The loosening of restrictions increased the action on the street course as two-thirds of the field left Pit Lane at the drop of the green flag. Drivers took full advantage of the added times as 12 of the 18 drivers turned at least 20 laps in the session.

But for all the laps turned today and the increased time that competitors had on track, the battle for the top three was decided in a span of just two minutes. Tracy's fate however had been decided earlier in the session as the 2003 series champion spun and brought out a red flag. That misstep would end up costing Tracy his fastest lap of the day as a penalty, meaning that he would have to turn the two fastest laps of the day in order to score the pole.

He started the flurry with one of those two quick laps, but when he lost the time to settle his penalty account, he was left with a clocking of 54.570 seconds (95.525 mph). Bourdais immediately upped the ante by eclipsing that mark, only to see Servia raise the bar further one lap later with his 54.305. But the time had barely registered on Servia's steering wheel readout when Bourdais stopped the clocks at his eventual pole-winning time of 54.243.

Tracy settled for third and will start alongside local hero A.J. Allmendinger (#10 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who was on pole briefly before the Tracy-Servia-Bourdais flurry started, but held on for his fourth top-five starting spot of the season after carding a time of 54.604 seconds (95.466 mph).

Mario Dominguez (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) rounded out the top five, coming back after bringing out a red flag in the final minutes of the pre-qualifying warmup session. Dominguez scored his best starting spot since the 2005 season opener, posting a best time of 54.654 seconds (95.378 mph). He will start in the third row alongside rapidly-improving Nelson Philippe (#34 Wellbox Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). Philippe has been in the top five of nearly every session this weekend and earned the best starting spot of his young Champ Car career, taking the sixth grid spot after cutting a lap of 54.878 seconds (94.989 mph).

Rookies will populate the fourth row as Timo Glock (#8 DHL Global Mail Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) led the first-year driver brigade after getting around the nine-turn circuit in a time of 54.895 seconds (94.959 mph). He will take the green from the inside of the fourth row while fellow first-year pilot Bjorn Wirdheim (#4 HVM Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) matched a career high by taking the eighth spot.

Justin Wilson (#9 Intel Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) rounded out the top 10, Vasser earning his seventh consecutive top-10 start. Andrew Ranger (#27 Tide/Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) made the most of a tough situation today, taking the 11th spot despite getting to run just seven laps. His Mi-Jack/Conquest team worked feverishly to get Ranger on course, getting him with 10 minutes to go, and the young Canadian put up a strong lap as a reward to his third-year team. Rodolfo Lavin (#55 HVM Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) made his first Champ Car appearance of the 2005 season and will start 12th in the HVM Racing machine.

Tomorrow's 105-minute Champ Car race will take the green flag at 2 p.m. local time (5 p.m. Eastern Time). The race can be seen live on SPEED Channel and will be preceded by a 30-minute qualifying show which begins at 4:30 Eastern.

QUOTES FROM THE TOP THREE QUALIFIERS

Paul Tracy: "Today is a lot easier than yesterday. Obviously, yesterday was, you know, much narrower and tighter. You know, there was only a handful of cars able to do it flat yesterday, which really made a big difference in lap time. But if anything had gone wrong or you made a mistake on the entry, the consequences were huge. They're going to work on it again tonight and try to make it even better for tomorrow."

Oriol Servia: "You know, qualifying, it's 1.4 miles, all those cars out there. It's just hard to get a good lap. I had three, four laps I was 3/10ths under and you find traffic. I was never doing it on purpose and I had cars in front. I always thought I didn't -- I was close enough to you. But obviously it's the way it's goes in 1.4 miles. I always try to be fair. It's just the nature of the game. You know, again, 6/100ths behind my teammate, it's very close, it's getting closer every weekend, which makes me happy. But also, you know, he's always just a little bit faster, just enough. Congratulations to him."

Sebastien Bourdais: Well, it's not been an easy session for us. A damper failure in 15 minutes so we couldn't go right away. I got a bit too excited and made one mistake, collected myself and made it happen, but barely. There aren't so many corners. It's obviously quite tight out there, so it's very difficult to make a difference. But I'm very happy for the McDonald's car. Just a pretty good job from the whole team. Put it on the front row, it means a lot. It means the team is working really hard. And we're both benefitting the hard work. So hopefully we keep up like that, have a long day tomorrow and a great show for the fans."

NOTEWORTHY

* Sebastien Bourdais scored the 16th pole of his career today, moving him into a tie will two-time series champion Gil de Ferran for 13th on the all-time Champ Car list.

* Oriol Servia will start second tomorrow, marking his best starting spot since he gridded second at the Denver event in 2003, a race where he went on to finish third.

* Today's crowd of 50,962 raises the two-day San Jose total to 91,396.

-ccws-

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