CHAMPCAR/CART: Tracy has his way in Vancouver qualifying

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CHAMPCAR/CART: Tracy has his way in Vancouver qualifying

(July 26, 2003) After being stripped of provisional pole for a rules violation on Friday, Team Player's Paul Tracy let his driving say it all by winning the pole again in Vancouver, Canada. "That's what we're here to do", said an emotional...

(July 26, 2003) After being stripped of provisional pole for a rules violation on Friday, Team Player's Paul Tracy let his driving say it all by winning the pole again in Vancouver, Canada.

"That's what we're here to do", said an emotional Tracy who won the 2000 race. "I've let my driving do my talking while others are doing they're talking in the pits and to the officials."

Paul Tracy.
Photo by Dan Streck.
His best lap of 1:00.926 (105.236 mph), was nearly a full second better than his run yesterday. It was Tracy's fourth pole this year and the eighth time he'll start from the front row.

The sometimes controversial Canadian, being removed from the front row yesterday for an on-track infraction, specifically blocking other drivers in qualifying, was infuriated so that he decided to come out early in Saturday's qualifying round to make a point.

"We wanted to go out there and set our time early in order to get out of the way so that nobody could complain that we were in their ways," Tracy said. "We set a mark for everybody to beat and fortunately nobody did."

On his fourth lap, he did just that, eclipsing Friday's time by a half second., with a breathtaking lap of 1:01.330. It would not stand very long.

Brazilian Roberto Moreno stunned the crowd shortly after Tracy's run, with his own pole lap at 1:01.172 (104.831 mph), which at the time looked like it would hold up. Tracy came back though with fresh tires and on his 12th and 13th attempts, set back to back pole winning laps.

Moreno eventually ended up third by virtue of his sprint and will start from inside the second row. It's the best start ever for Moreno, who won the 2001 race here. "We're really starting to put it together", Moreno said. "My engineer and I can just look at each other now and we know what each other is thinking."

Newman / Haas driver Bruno Junqueira, who had been awarded provisional pole and the point to go with it on Friday, sat in the pits to let the others battle it out. But on his final qualifying lap with time elapsed in the session, the Brazilian native lowered his time to second overall with at 1:01.070 (104.988 mph).

The time didn't move him up the ladder, but Junqueira was cautiously optimistic about his chances for tomorrow's race. "It was close and we were fast, but I'm sure that Tracy is fast too. I don't think about that (pole) too much, just that we have a good starting position because the race is very fast.

Most of the front runners in the championship elected to jump on track right away instead of traditionally waiting while slower qualifiers laid rubber on the track. Not this time however as all but Junqueira let there presence be known.

Patrick Carpantier brought out the only Red Flag of the session when he clipped the wall in the Turn 12 chicane and came rest after collecting another wall on the opposite side. The Simple Green Safety Team cleaned everything up quickly and with less than 5 minutes remaining it made for a mad scramble.

Rookie Sebastian Bourdais, having already won three races this season, made his last qualifying lap his best and grabbed the fifth starting spot. He will start on the third row behind fourth quickest Michel Jourdain.

Jourdain has had a very quiet weekend, and is currently behind Junqueira and Tracy driver points, recently slipping down to third spot, 26 points out of the championship lead. "We had a couple of bad races in a row, but there are nine race to go and lots of points to get."

Tracy now gets to keep one point for claiming the top spot in qualifying, and it's a sure bet, even if something does go amiss overnight, that the Vancouver crowd will see a fellow Canadian start from pole.

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Series INDYCAR