It certainly was a good start for A.J. Allmendinger in his new ride. Fresh off the recent three-driver, three-team swap, Allmendinger resurfaced at Forsythe and ran the quickest lap of first day qualifying at the checker. Allmendinger uncorked a...
It certainly was a good start for A.J. Allmendinger in his new ride. Fresh off the recent three-driver, three-team swap, Allmendinger resurfaced at Forsythe and ran the quickest lap of first day qualifying at the checker. Allmendinger uncorked a 58.378-second lap that beat Sebastien Bourdais by nearly a tenth of a second. It is worth noting that Bourdais has only scored one provisional pole this season, at the opener in Long Beach. He was dropped to 5th following a technical infraction at Houston, and missed out in Mexico by a few tenths.
The last five minutes were a crapshoot following Dan Clarke's spin. The Briton brought out a red flag with left everyone scrambling for one final lap. Allmendinger's wasn't perfect in any regard, but he put his Indeck/Red Bull car over the limit and made it all stick to score the pole. The result means he will be on the front row of the grid for Sunday's race.
"For the first time in a while, I was able to come to the track today and have fun and be happy and really enjoy myself," Allmendinger commented afterwards. "It might have been the most ugly pole lap anybody's ever seen because I about crashed in turn one because everybody has been dropping wheels, so there was dirt all over the track. I tried to top that by crashing even harder in turn seven, but somehow stayed on the track. I really don't know how I got pole, but we'll take it."
Bourdais noted that the track was slippery in some spots, "like ice" through turns six and seven. Regardless of track conditions, while Allmendinger used the faster Bridgestone alternates, or "reds", Bourdais has them available on Saturday for the final round of qualifying.
Those two were the only drivers to break the 59-second barrier. Paul Tracy had a good run to 3rd, stopping the clock at 59.121 seconds and just beating the two Team Australia cars. Impressive rookie Will Power beat the returning Alex Tagliani for 4th. Power led the first ten minutes of qualifying, but unimpressed, wanted more and set his fastest lap on his 13th and final trip around the circuit.
Current standings runner-up Justin Wilson came home in 6th, with his new teammate Cristiano da Matta in 10th. Mario Dominguez did end up resurfacing with Dale Coyne, tentatively scheduled for this race only, but was out-qualified by rookie Jan Heylen in a newly repainted Muermans Group livery. Heylen was 13th, with Dominguez 15th. Champ Car debutante Tonis Kasemets of Rocketsports was 18th and last, the only driver not to dip below 1:01.
Tomorrow's final qualifying session will occur at 1:45 Pacific Time with the final practice later in the day. The practice is different from usual because of a noise ordinance that prevents Champ Cars from running prior to 10:00 a.m.