CHAMPCAR/CART: Tracy takes pole but Hunter-Reay steals show

CHAMPCAR/CART: Tracy takes pole but Hunter-Reay steals show

Lexington, Ohio - Paul Tracy went faster than he did yesterday and faster than all the other Champ Car drivers, giving him the pole for tomorrow's Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio. The pole gives him two points on the weekend and puts him just...

Lexington, Ohio - Paul Tracy went faster than he did yesterday and faster than all the other Champ Car drivers, giving him the pole for tomorrow's Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio. The pole gives him two points on the weekend and puts him just one point behind Bruno Junqueira in the race for the CART drivers' championship.

Paul Tracy.
Photo by Michael Kim.
While Tracy held a big advantage -- more than one quarter of a second -- over the rest of the field in Friday's provisional session, his time today, 1:07.058 seconds (121.220 mph), was only just fast enough for the pole.

A surprise second-place qualifier was rookie Ryan Hunter-Reay, who earned the first front row start of his young Champ Car career with a time only sixteen thousandths of a second slower than Tracy. This will also be the first time in 2003 that a Reynard chassis will start from the front row.

The 22-year-old American Spirit Team Johansson driver was the only driver who hadn't tested at Mid-Ohio this year and he had last seen the course in 2001 in a Barber Dodge car. The much faster Champ Cars are quite different on the tight course, he discovered.

"[Mid-Ohio] feels shorter - like a slot car track - than in Barber Dodge," an excited Hunter-Reay commented.

Newman-Haas Racing's Sebastien Bourdais was the third fastest qualifier today, also well within one-tenth of a second of the pole time. The top six qualifiers, in fact, were within one half-second of the pole time.

Just like yesterday, most of the drivers waited until late in the session to hit the track. Dale Coyne Racing's Geoff Boss went out first again today and ran seven laps by himself and returned to the pits before any other drivers ventured out. Then 16 minutes into the 40-minute session, a group of other drivers went for their first runs. Even then, Tracy didn't go out.

"We waited for quite a while in the pits because the track was almost 3 seconds off and there was no use going out there and waste good rubber," Tracy recalled. "When my team sent me out, it was the right timing because I did my quick time on the third lap."

Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Photo by Michael Kim.

Most of the drivers also set their fast time today on their first set of tires when the track was shrouded in clouds. But Hunter-Reay's time came at the end of the session, on his second tire set and under sunnier skies.

Several drivers, including Hunter-Reay, believed that they were capable of faster times in the last few minutes of the session, but a spin by Mario Dominguez with about two minutes remaining brought the session to a premature end and spoiled those final runs.

The green flag to start the Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio waves tomorrow at 2 pm EDT for 92 laps of the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sport Car Course.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Paul Tracy , Mario Dominguez , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Sébastien Bourdais , Geoff Boss , Dale Coyne , Michael Kim
Teams Dale Coyne Racing