The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford knows the way to San Jose, and Paul Tracy knows the fastest way to get there. The Canadian stopped the clocks with less than a minute to go in Friday qualifying, establishing a new track record on the streets of Silicon Valley.
Tracy started out the session first on the track, and quickly a fast time. It wasn't until the second red flag that he was able to his car up for the final sprint towards pole. With three minutes remaining, the top three spots switch hands between five drivers.
"I'm very happy the way things went today", Tracy said. "The track improvements this year is just great. It's like night and day."
"The car has to be exceptionally good under braking." Tracy went on to say. "If you're along side somebody going into a turn it's going to be to tight to make the pass. There's going to have to be a lot of give and take in the race."
Nicky Pastorelli brought a quick halt to the weekend's first qualifying round when he found a tire wall at the beginning of the long front straight. Champ Car safety quickly cleaned up the incident and qualifying resumed with only six cars having establishing a time on San Jose's 1.5-mile 7-turn street circuit.
San Jose native A.J. Allmendinger, 50.246 seconds (103.387) toyed briefly with the fastest time but settled for third best on the day. His fast time was penalized when he went off in the last turn and brought out the second red flag.
"Turn seven is tricky because you want to turn in very early but that's not the exact line." Allmendinger said. I'm very exited to run in front of my home crowd. If I were to win this event it would be the most important win for me this year."
With half the session completed, Bourdais came in for fresh tires and a wing adjustment. The combination did not prove to his liking and his car went off into no-mans land.
"I screwed up, it's a simple as that." Bourdais said of his excursion down one the escape roads as he pressed to beat Tracy's time. "Cold tires on a cold track don't mix."
Long-time Champ Car veteran Oriol Servia, made his way around to take the forth spot, turning in a lap at 50.248 seconds (103.363 mph), and rookie Dan Clarke brought his ride home in fifth.
Rounding out the top ten were Alex Tagliani, Nelson Philippe, Justin Wilson, Bruno Junqueira, and 2002 series champion Christiano da Matta.
Second round qualifying is set for Saturday; Tracy is guaranteed a front row starting spot for Sunday's race due to the fastest time he set today.