CHAMPCAR/CART: Tracy locks in the pole on the streets of Denver

CHAMPCAR/CART: Tracy locks in the pole on the streets of Denver

Paul Tracy went to the mat with perennial opponent Sebastien Bourdais on the 1.657-mile, nine-turn Denver Grand Prix street course and bested his Friday track qualifying record - and the competition - to lock in pole position for...

Paul Tracy went to the mat with perennial opponent Sebastien Bourdais on the 1.657-mile, nine-turn Denver Grand Prix street course and bested his Friday track qualifying record - and the competition - to lock in pole position for Sunday's Centrix Financial Grand Prix race. The Canadian held nothing back to clock 59.432 seconds (100.370mph) and score the fastest weekend lap and another track record.

Paul Tracy.
Photo by Kurt Dahlstrom.
Waiting for the optimal time to score his 25th career pole, Tracy knew both Bourdais and teammate Mario Dominguez would be putting up big numbers. "We sat there and talked about it for a minute or two. I just said to the crew," Tracy recalled, "I'd be kicking myself if I sat here and lost the pole. So we went out and gave it another lap. We did a good lap and then the red came out on my final lap. It all played out."

Bourdais put up the fight, bettering his Friday time but fell short of the pole with his 59.541-second, 100.186mph tour. The Frenchman will start on the front row alongside his nemesis. Still the reigning Champ Car titleholder thought, "The whole day went pretty well. We made a big change comparing to yesterday. We thought we had it right and then the more the track picks up rubber, the bigger the problem is."

Citing understeer a bit too much, Bourdais settled for second, believing his car would perform better under the harsher realities of Sunday's race.

Dominguez also sailed to a faster time of 59.644 seconds (100.013mph) but like yesterday, he was third fastest for qualifying as he pushed "hard out there all the time. It's not easy to be fast in this track because you really have to be on the edge. The track is very slippery and it's fun, fun to drive on the edge like this," he gleefully stated.

Unlike yesterday where Tracy was the only one to dial in a time under one minute, today six racers hit the mark.

Local second year team RuSPORT placed their two sophomore drivers A.J. Allmendinger (59.938/99.523mph) and Justin Wilson (59.962sec/99.483mph) in the top five, with the Californian leading the lanky Briton to fourth and fifth places, respectively.

Jimmy Vasser had "a good qualifying session" in taking the sixth grid slot at 59.995 seconds at 99.428mph, the 1996 CART champ becoming the final sub-minute qualifier. "We made a lot of gains and worked hard to find the magic that is the setup."

Alex Tagliani.
Photo by Kurt Dahlstrom.
Making his 100th Champ Car start, Alex Tagliani holds seventh at 60.156 seconds (99.162mph) and noted his happiness after the session: "This is my best ever starting position here in Denver. The team did a brilliant job in the past 24 hours because we were really struggling yesterday," when he was 11th in preliminary qualifying.

Oriol Servia's problems this weekend continued; he's eighth at the start after running 60.331 seconds and 98.875mph. "We didn't improve as we thought we were going to and I just can't get the setup right here."

2002 champ Cristiano da Matta took ninth at 60.493 seconds (98.010mph) and "struggled. We have a lot of work to do before the race." Rookie Timo Glock had another good top-10 qualifying result with his lap at 100.529sec/98.551mph and found the conditions after morning rain similar to Friday's. "We just had another unlucky day" while on his flier when teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay went off at the fifth turn to bring a premature end to the session.

Tomorrow's race is scheduled for 97 laps or two hours and takes the green flags at 3:30PM EDT, with live coverage on Speed.

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Series INDYCAR