Paul Tracy Leads First-Day Champ Car Qualifying TORONTO (July 9, 2004) -- Paul Tracy ( ...
Paul Tracy Leads First-Day Champ Car Qualifying
TORONTO (July 9, 2004) -- Paul Tracy (#1 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) had the dominant machine in last year's Molson Indy Toronto as he led wire-to-wire to score a win that went a long way toward giving him the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford title.
He picked up right where he left off as Champ Car qualifying began on a cloudy day in Toronto, where 41,704 fans cheered the Ontario native on to a best lap of 59.407 seconds (106.351 mph). The lap was a microscopic .003 seconds better than that of Sebastien Bourdais (#2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/ Bridgestone), but was good enough to give Tracy the first-day pole and a guaranteed front-row starting spot for Sunday's race. The point gives him 86 on the year and moves him into a tie for fourth in the standings.
Tracy went out 15 minutes into the 35-minute session and put up his fastest lap on his sixth trip around the 1.755-mile Toronto street course. He came back in for new Bridgestone rubber after his first stint but would not be able to better his time as the Newman/Haas pair began drawing ever closer.
Bourdais used his 10th lap to card his best time of 59.410 seconds (106.346 mph) but would get no closer on two subsequent orbits and would settle for the second spot. He ended his day ahead of stablemate Bruno Junqueira (#6 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) but only by four-hundredths of a second as the top three qualifiers were covered by .041 seconds.
"Three-thousandths of a second, that's nothing. That's one little piece of the car that might need taken off,"
joked Bourdais. "The balance of the car felt pretty good and hopefully we can find the speed tomorrow."
Junqueira also scored his best time of 59.448 seconds (106.278 mph) on his sixth lap and nearly ran the polesitter down on his final laps, but ended up posting a 59.53 on his 15th and final lap. After the session it was determined that Patrick Carpentier (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) had held up Junqueira on his penultimate lap, a violation that would cause Carpentier to surrender his fastest lap of the session.
Rookie points leader Justin Wilson (#34 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) was the surprise of the day as the first-year pilot took to a street course in Toronto that he had never seen before and promptly put his Mi-Jack/Conquest machine in the fourth spot on the grid. Wilson navigated the course in a time of 59.644 seconds (105.929 mph) as he continues his strong early-season run of qualifying that saw his take a front-row spot last week in Cleveland.
Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who finished as the runner-up to Tracy in last year's event, put his RuSPORT car in the fifth spot on the first-day grid after putting up a time of 59.701 seconds (105.827 mph). Jourdain would start provisionally in the third row alongside Alex Tagliani (#8 Johnson Controls Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who claimed the sixth spot with a time of 59.754 seconds (105.734 mph).
The Herdez Competition duo of Ryan Hunter-Reay (#4 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Mario Dominguez (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) came home seventh and eighth respectively as the two-car team looks to turn its recent luck around, while Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and the aforementioned Carpentier rounded out the top 10. Carpentier was originally eighth in the standings with a time of 59.775 seconds, but would have to settle for a run of 60.069 seconds (105.179 mph) after being penalized his fastest lap for blocking Junqueira.
The final race grid will be set in Saturday's final qualifying which will take place at 1:45 p.m.. The session will be televised live on HDNet as well as over the Internet with the new Race Director feature on the official site of the Champ Car World Series, www.champcarworldseries.com.