CHAMPCAR/CART: Wilson tops Portland refresher course

Six weeks absence has proven to be a curse for some and a blessing to others, as shown in today's qualifying session from Portland International Speedway for the Champ Car World Series. Justin Wilson rose to the top of the charts on his soft red...

Six weeks absence has proven to be a curse for some and a blessing to others, as shown in today's qualifying session from Portland International Speedway for the Champ Car World Series.

Justin Wilson rose to the top of the charts on his soft red Bridgestone tires and took the provisional pole with a lap time of 58.000 seconds for a speed of 121.930 mph (194.183 kph) in his #9 RSPORTS. The weather for the weekend is unpredictable and Wilson may have accomplished what he needed to do to lock in the pole position. An elated Justin proclaimed "Everything went well for us today -- we're getting stronger all the time." Wilson eluded that they may have more set aside for qualifying tomorrow.

In close pursuit of Wilson is Robert Doornbos #14 Minardi Team USA driver qualifying second at 58.214 seconds 121.455 mph (195.462 kph). Doornbos was battling gremlins with a programming glitch in the computer of his Champ Car, but the team was able to quickly repair the problem and get him out on track. Having had the opportunity to test at Mont-Tremblant, "the team improved on the car". Doornbos felt that "they needed to keep pushing and stay focused to improve on today's result." Doornbos is looking forward to the standing starts as his racing resume highlights the many different series he has participated in Europe which utilized the standing start.

Current points leader Sebastian Bourdais driving the #1 McDonald's car for Newman/Haas/Lanigan was the third fastest qualifier at a speed of 121.260 mph (195.149 kph). The practice session earlier in the day proved to be troublesome as Bourdais ran out of fuel. Bourdais seemed perplexed by the car when it went from "acceptable to pretty bad". Sebastian was battling tire grip during his qualifying session and was hoping to find a better setup for tomorrow's qualifying session.

Forsythe Championship Racing drivers and Oriol Servia #7 and Paul Tracy #3 felt the awkward return to their cars after an extended hiatus having qualified 11th and 13th respectively. Servia stated "It's good to be back in the car, it's been a very long break. It actually took me a few laps to get back into the rhythm of things. Most of the teams have tested here so they are close to where they'll be for the whole weekend; we still have a lot of time left in the car so things could turn out pretty good tomorrow."

Tracy had a "disastrous day, it's definitely not the way I wanted to get back. In the morning I was just coming out of the pits with cold tires and I made a mistake and hit the wall, so my guys hustled to get the backup car ready but Champ Car rules don't allow running two cars in the same session so we had to wait until qualifying to get our first laps in." We will have to wait and see what the new day brings for Tracy tomorrow.

The weather will prove to be a deciding factor for the Mazda Grand Prix of Portland as many of the drivers eluded to the grip and handling of their cars on the 1.964 mile (3.16075 km) 12 turn course that will challenge them over the next couple of days.

Will we see the 100th win for Newman/Haas/Lanigan this weekend ... only lap times will tell. Saturday will see the racers shoot for the pole, Wilson has padded his points with a guaranteed front row start and the one bonus point.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Robert Doornbos