Hometown hero Paul Tracy took the provisional pole of the Molson Indy Toronto, surviving a challenge by Sebastien Bourdais late in the first of two qualifying sessions scheduled for this weekend. Tracy edged out the Frenchman by only three ...
Hometown hero Paul Tracy took the provisional pole of the Molson Indy Toronto, surviving a challenge by Sebastien Bourdais late in the first of two qualifying sessions scheduled for this weekend. Tracy edged out the Frenchman by only three one-thousandths of a second, posting a time of 59.407 for an average speed of 106.351 miles per hour.
By posting the quickest time in his Indeck Forsythe Racing Lola, Tracy receives one championship point and moves into a fourth-place tie with Alex Tagliani in the driver's standings with 86 points. Also, he is guaranteed a spot in the front row on the starting grid for Sunday's race, Round 6 of the 2004 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series. The pole position for race day will be determined by the fastest lap of both the Friday and Saturday qualifying sessions.
"I am disappointed that we lost by three one-thousandths of a second," commented Bourdais after his time of 59.410 (106.346 mph). "It will take a faster time tomorrow to win. I am much happier with the balance of the car on this track." The Toronto race is run on a 1.755-mile (2.824-km) temporary street circuit.
Newman/Haas teammate Bruno Junqueira finished third at 59.448 in a session that separated the fastest three drivers by only 41 one-thousandths of a second.
"It was very close between me, Paul, and Sebastien," added Junqueira. "All of us were in the low 59s. The way the results are, it is going to be a very exciting race on Sunday. We are all three great rivals."
Rookie of the Year leader and former Formula 1 driver Justin Wilson of Mi- Jack Conquest Racing crossed the line in fourth at 59.664 (105.929 mph) and Gigante/Rusport driver Michel Jourdain Jr. finished in fifth on the provisional grid at 59.701 (105.827 mph).
Rounding out the top ten for the first qualifying session were Tagliani, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Mario Dominguez, Jimmy Vasser and Patrick Carpentier.
Carpentier, who was quickest in both practice sessions today, was penalized for not running at qualifying speed during the session. His quickest time of 59.775 was disqualified, dropping him from eighth to tenth in the results. Midway through the session, the Indeck Forsythe Championship Racing driver hit the wall in turn three, suffering left-front wing damage. After repairs, his car never performed as well.
The track was fairly quiet in the opening 9 minutes of the qualifying session with rookies Alex Sperafico and Roberto Gonzalez the only two drivers to venture onto the cold tarmac. Gonzalez set the pace at 1:01.825.
Then Rodolfo Lavin, Dominguez, Hunter-Reay, and Mario Haberfeld were next to post qualifying laps with Dominguez taking over the top spot at 1:00.236. Hunter-Reay knocked his Herdez Racing teammate off the pole one lap later and was the first to crack the one-minute barrier, clocking a 59.759.
In the 14th minute many of the top drivers made their first appearance on the track. 2003 Toyota Atlantic Champion A.J. Allmendinger jumped up to third place with a lap of 1:00.502. Carpentier took over the third spot at 1:00.069 and then, with open road, moved up into second with a time of 59.775 on his next lap, the lap that he would eventually lose due to the penalty.
Then a flurry of activity began as many drivers jockeyed for the top five spots. On their fourth qualifying laps, Bourdais and Junqueira took over first and second place respectively in the 20th minute, the Frenchman raising the bar to 59.559 and the Brazilian marking a 59.624. Meanwhile, Wilson took over third at 59.644.
One minute later, Tracy crossed the line with the eventual quickest time of the day at 59.407. Junqueira went to second quickest at 59.448 on his next lap.
Most of the drivers then came into the pits after completing their first 6- 9 laps and the track remained relatively quiet over the next six minutes.
When the top drivers came back out for the second stint of their qualifying sessions, only Bourdais and Jourdain were able to better their earlier times. With five minutes remaining, Jourdain moved up into fifth spot at 59.701. Then in the final minute, Bourdais pushed his McDonald's Ford- Cosworth Lola to the limit to knock his teammate out of second place just three one-thousandths of a second behind Tracy at 59.410.
The Champ Car Series continues tomorrow with a morning practice session. In the afternoon, there will be a 20-minute practice session followed by the final qualifying run at 1:45 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Sunday's race will take place at 1:30 p.m.
Tracy, who's 17th-place finish at Cleveland last week dropped him down into fifth place in the driver's championship, remains optimistic about this Sunday's race. "There's no better place than here in Toronto to turn things around for the better."
In the provisional qualifying session for the Molson Indy Toronto last year, Junqueira and Tracy were the only two drivers who broke the one- minute threshold. Ten drivers broke that barrier in qualifying today.
Track temperatures this afternoon ranged from 86-90 degrees Farenheit and air temperatures were 74-77 degrees Farenheit.