CHAMPCAR/CART: St. Pete: Newman/Haas Racing Saturday qualifying report

Bourdais first rookie to start on pole in debut since '93; Junqueira to start seventh OVERALL: With showers forecast to begin during qualifying, Junqueira attempted to set a fast qualifying time early in the session. After Junqueira completed...

Bourdais first rookie to start on pole in debut since '93;
Junqueira to start seventh

OVERALL: With showers forecast to begin during qualifying, Junqueira attempted to set a fast qualifying time early in the session. After Junqueira completed one lap, the red flag was brought out due to a spin by Oriol Servia. Once the track went green, a good portion of the field, including Junqueira, got back on track. On his second timed lap during the run, Junqueira spun and brought out the red flag therefore, per CART rules, his quickest lap time of the session would not count. Unfortunately more red flags would be shown before the conclusion of the session and Junqueira was unable to post a better lap time than the one he registered on Friday and he fell from a second place start to seventh. Paul Tracy will start the race beside Bourdais.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, #2 Newman/Haas Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/ Bridgestone: "It feels really well (to win the pole). Actually, I think it was very difficult to expect a better result. The car has been great all through the weekend. For the moment, we have a really good car. I haven't had a big problem since we started Friday morning, so it's really good. It's so good to start the season that way, after a long wait. I was not sure about getting a good ride for this year. Now I'm here, in US, and on the pole for the first race of Champ Car. It's great. It was difficult to manage the red flags but it was probably harder for the others because, for sure, we were going to start (the race) no lower than second place. The pressure was on the other drivers. It was a perfect situation for us. We just saved our tires and we are ready for the race. I have never run a race two hours in length. It will require a lot of concentration, which is necessary and important on a street course. We are here to try and win."

* NOTES: Rookie Sebastien Bourdais became the first driver since Nigel Mansell (1993 Australia) to win the pole position in his Champ car debut today. Although classified as a Champ car "rookie" Mansell was the reigning F 1 Champion at the time. Bourdais is the reigning F3000 Champion, the "feeder" series to F 1. Mansell the only other rookie to have driven for Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) in the 21-year history of the team. Mansell went on to win Rookie of the Year as well as the third Championship (of four) for the team after scoring five wins and seven pole positions in 1993. Bourdais won the 71st pole for the team today, 56 of which have come on road/street courses. It was NHR's eighth pole in the past 16 races.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA, #1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "I couldn't get more than two laps in a row together. It was pretty frustrating. The PacifiCare team will give me the best chance to win the championship so we're going to keep working hard and things will start to go our way. I would have rather started from the pole to make things easier for me but Cristiano [da Matta] won last year from further back than seventh, so I'm optimistic. The team is one of the best in terms of race strategy and pit stops so that can only help me in the race. I do have a fast car, that's important. Unfortunately, I couldn't show that in qualifying. The spin obviously cost me my fastest lap which was a 1:01.621. That lap would have put me third on the grid but there were probably many drivers that also had a frustrating session."

* NHR NOTES: In their 20 previous seasons, the team has won 9 season-opening races ('84, '85, '87 - Mario Andretti in Long Beach; '88 - Mario Andretti in Phoenix; '93 Mansell in Australia; '97, '98 - Michael Andretti in Homestead, Fla.; '01, '02 - da Matta in Monterrey, Mexico.) * NHR is the most successful team competing in the 2003 Champ Car World Series after scoring 68 victories and 71 pole positions. * NHR won their 68th Champ car event in Miami (da Matta on 10-6-02). * Bourdais brought the team its 71st pole TODAY. * Prior to da Matta's seven poles and Bourdais's pole today (16 events), it had been a 56-race non-pole drought (1999 Elkhart Lake with Michael Andretti.

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW: The morning warm-up will take place from 9:00-9:30 AM ET which will be followed by the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg at 1 PM ET. SPEED Channel will televise the race live.

-nhr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Mario Andretti , Sébastien Bourdais