CHAMPCAR/CART: da Matta takes pole at Vancouver

Cristiano da Matta came back from a number of adversities yesterday to take pole position for tomorrow's Molson Indy Vancouver race, held on the street of Vancouver, British Columbia. Sitting next to him on the front row will be Canadian Paul ...

Cristiano da Matta came back from a number of adversities yesterday to take pole position for tomorrow's Molson Indy Vancouver race, held on the street of Vancouver, British Columbia. Sitting next to him on the front row will be Canadian Paul Tracy. Tracy's team mate Dario Franchitti will sit behind da Matta on the grid.

As expected, everyone was faster than in yesterday's qualifying session. Franchitti attributed the improved times to the softer tires that Bridgestone brought this weekend. In contrast to yesterday, the teams seemed to realize that the session was a full hour long and cars took to the track within five minutes of its start.

The first batch of drivers to go out were da Matta, Tony Kanaan, Adrian Fernandez, Christian Fittipaldi and Shinji Nakano. Da Matta quickly put in the top time and everyone would spend the rest of the session chasing that time. Franchitti led the next group out, followed by Michael Andretti and Jimmy Vasser. Paul Tracy and Oriel Servia were the last drivers to go out, about half way through the session.

Try as they might, no one could match da Matta's time. With 25 minutes to go, da Matta could only sit and watch and see if his fast time would hold. A driver is limited to 15 laps in qualifying and he had used them all.

Tracy, who was guaranteed a front row spot because he had fast time yesterday, tried to better da Matta, but could not do it. Franchitti also put in a few hot laps and got close, but not good close enough. "We gave it a good shot," Franchitti explained. Scott Dixon tried as well, but his laps ran out before he could put together a lap that was faster than da Matta.

All of the early running meant that everyone was starting to run out of laps. With ten minutes to go, the list of drivers with qualifying laps remaining was getting small - Tracy, Tony Kanaan, Alex Tagliani, Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser, Patrick Carpentier. However, despite an open track, they were not able to improve upon their earlier times.

In the end, it came down to Paul Tracy and, try as he might, he was not able to pull it off. "I drove too hard and that was it," he later noted. "I didn't get the best out of my car and I didn't get the best out of myself."

Da Matta's time of 1:00.339 set a new track record. He partly attributed his lap times to getting out early before the track got crowded and risk the potentially bad conditions of a green track. "I went out early to get a clear track. Yesterday, it was a zoo," he observed. Tracy noted that the track was better than usual conditions at the start of qualifying.

The Molson Indy Vancouver will start tomorrow at 1:30 PM PDT.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Adrian Fernandez , Alex Tagliani , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Shinji Nakano , Cristiano da Matta