CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland: Lola Thursday report

Tracy carries momentum to Cleveland Earns provisional pole in seven-car Lola sweep Initial qualifying for Saturday night's 22nd annual Cleveland Grand Prix presented by US Bank was held in the late afternoon heat Thursday (air temps were...

Tracy carries momentum to Cleveland
Earns provisional pole in seven-car Lola sweep

Initial qualifying for Saturday night's 22nd annual Cleveland Grand Prix presented by US Bank was held in the late afternoon heat Thursday (air temps were 86-86; track temps went from 112 to 118degrees), yet nothing quelled Paul Tracy from taking provisional pole in his #3 Team Player's Lola/Ford-Cosworth/Bridgestone racer. On the sixth of 15 laps at the 2.106-mile Burke Lakefront Airport circuit, Tracy propelled his car to a blistering 58.405 seconds (129.811mph) after "doing a 360-degree spin out of turn 4 on the prior lap. The track wasn't as good later; it got dirty with guys going off." If Tracy keeps pole position, it will be his third this season in his 200th Champ Car race.

Teammate Patrick Carpentier, second in the #32 Team Player's Lola at 58.868 seconds (128.790mph), won the 2002 race by a staggering 17 seconds. "I knew I had a good lap in and had another going, but then I spun. There's always tomorrow and it should be interesting." Rookie Sebastien Bourdais earned third for the day in his #2 McDonald's/Lilly Lola, liveried in new sponsor McDonald's red, with a lap of 59.163 seconds (128.148mph). The Frenchman, impressed by the runways and taxiways he'll be racing 115 laps on spun his car during qualifying. "I pushed pretty hard today and it's easy to do a mistake here. You can't compare this with anywhere, it's a pretty fast track. I came very close to crashing (when he spun) but could rotate the car back."

Oriol Servia, fourth in the #20 Visteon Lola at 59.186 seconds (128.098mph) continues hone his Lola skills and remarked, "This speed means we are closer to the top speed than we have been the last three races." Michel Jourdain Jr. was "very, very disappointed with Paul. Every lap he backed out before the last chicane when I was coming. We made some changes for the afternoon session and the car was much better, but I couldn't finish a single lap," the Mexican wailed after logging a lap of 59.223 seconds (128.018mph) in the #9 Gigante Lola, good for fifth.

Alex Tagliani's #33 Johnson Controls Lola took sixth place at 59.247 seconds (127.966mph) and believes "the car is very competitive this weekend and I feel good about it." Portland winner Adrian Fernandez was seventh in his #51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Lola at 59.340 seconds (127.765mph) after his team went back on an early spring change that had him among the slower of 19 drivers. "The car was better but still we need to work more to make it transition better," he explained.

The Champ Cars will have two evening practices tonight prior to final qualifying, set for 8:30PM July 4th and airing live on Speed TV.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Adrian Fernandez , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Sébastien Bourdais , Michel Jourdain