CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland: Paul Tracy qualifying notes

Tracy sets early pace in Cleveland qualifying Lexmark Indy 300 International Ambassador Paul Tracy has set the early pace in qualifying for the ninth round of the Champ Car World Series in Cleveland Ohio. The championship leader, Tracy has not...

Tracy sets early pace in Cleveland qualifying

Lexmark Indy 300 International Ambassador Paul Tracy has set the early pace in qualifying for the ninth round of the Champ Car World Series in Cleveland Ohio.

The championship leader, Tracy has not won on the temporary road course at Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport since 1993 but he showed that he still knows the fast way around the 3.36km (2.106-mile) circuit.

Tracy ripped off a blistering lap that was nearly a half-second ahead of the entire field as he paced today's opening qualifying session for Saturday night's U.S. Bank Presents The Cleveland Grand Prix.

Tracy is hoping to continue his championship-leading form and would like nothing better to wrap-up the series with a big result in this year's Lexmark Indy 300 on the streets of the Gold Coast from October 23-26.

The Canadian cracked a lap of 58.405 seconds - guaranteeing himself a front-row starting spot for the race which will be held under lights for the first time.

Tracy ran the day's best lap on his sixth orbit of the Cleveland circuit on a sunny afternoon that heated up the track and sent a number of drivers rolling through the various grassy areas of the circuit.

In fact, each of the top three drivers on the day took turns running some unauthorized off-course laps before recovering to post fast times.

"I had a good lap going previous to that lap, and I got a wheel off the track," said Tracy. "I did a 360 coming out of turn four, the same place that (teammate) Pat (Carpentier) did it. So, you know, I had to just regroup and try to put the lap together. It was the last lap of my first set of tyres."

Defending race champion Patrick Carpentier was one of those that took flying spins on the green side of the racetrack, but rebounded to break the 59-second barrier in taking the second spot in provisional qualifying.

Carpentier put up a time of 58.868 seconds to join his Player's/Forsythe teammate in the 58-second club on his 11th lap. He would try to better that effort but spun again in the middle section of the course and was unable to go any faster.

"We had another lap that was going really, really good," said "Carpentier. It seemed to be a little bit faster. I don't know if it "would have been fast enough for the pole or not. But it ended up in a "360, quite a bit of dirt and sand and stuff like that."

The battle for third was fast and furious at the end of the qualifying session as Sebastien Bourdais and Oriol Servia swapped the spot three times in the final minutes of the session. Bourdais pipped Michel Jourdain Jr for third on his 12th lap only to see Servia slip past him on his last orbit. Bourdais then went back out on his next pass and moved to third for good with a lap of 59.163 seconds.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Sébastien Bourdais