PAUL TRACY SETS NEW TRACK RECORD IN PACING FIRST-DAY CHAMP CAR QUALIFYING FOR CENTRIX FINANCIAL GRAND PRIX OF DENVER DENVER (August 12, 2005) -- Qualifying success has not been the calling card of Champ Car star Paul Tracy ( ...
PAUL TRACY SETS NEW TRACK RECORD IN PACING FIRST-DAY CHAMP CAR QUALIFYING FOR CENTRIX FINANCIAL GRAND PRIX OF DENVER
DENVER (August 12, 2005) -- Qualifying success has not been the calling card of Champ Car star Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) during his many years in the Champ Car World Series, but the 2005 season has been a different story.
Tracy has showed unprecedented strength in qualifying this year and kept his strong run going at the first day of the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver presented by PacifiCare, setting a new track record in capturing the provisional pole for Sunday's ninth round of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.
The 30-time Champ Car race winner stormed around the 1.657-mile Denver street course in 59.759 seconds (99.821 mph) to break the track standard set a year ago by eventual racewinner Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). Tracy was the only driver to make a trip around the nine-turn course in less than 60 seconds, earning him a championship point -- closing his gap behind points leader Bourdais to 27 points - and guaranteeing him a front-row starting spot for Sunday's race.
Tracy led a 1-2 first-day sweep for Forsythe Championship Racing as he was joined atop the time charts by Mario Dominguez (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who punched the clock at 1:00.213 (99.068 mph). Dominguez and Tracy took the top two spots ahead of defending Denver champ Bourdais, who settled for third with a time of 1:00.347 (98.848 mph).
Qualifying took place under cloudy skies in Denver, keeping track temperatures lower and allowing cars to maintain their grip on the tricky street-course surface. The session took a little time to get rolling as many of the pre-qualifying favorites waited 10 minutes before attacking the course, but the cloud cover helped drivers get up to speed quickly.
Dominguez set his best time on just his fourth lap while Tracy set his eventual polewinning time on his fifth pass, leading early while Bjorn Wirdheim (#4 HVM Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Timo Glock (#8 DHL Global Mail Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) ran in the top five.
Bourdais and Oriol Servia (#2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) waited nearly 20 minutes to make their initial runs, but Bourdais didn't waste any time in getting up to speed. It took just five laps for Bourdais to post his best time, making his best effort one lap before diving down Pit Lane for a new set of Bridgestone Potenza tires.
That early speed would tell most of the tale in Friday's first round as the track uncharacteristically did not yield any quicker speeds. Only four members of the 18-car field were able to find more speed on their second sets of tires, paced by the RuSPORT machine of Justin Wilson (#9 Intel Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). Wilson ran his top lap of 1:00.697 (98.278 mph) on the last of his 14 laps, slotting him into the fifth spot, right behind Colorado-based teammate A.J. Allmendinger (#10 Western Union Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who scored the fourth-best lap of the day.
Wilson was chased by a pair of rookies on the speed sheets as Glock and Wirdheim finished sixth and seventh as the final drivers to turn laps in the 60-second range. Wirdheim's HVM Racing teammate Rodolfo Lavin (#55 HVM Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) finished eighth in today's session, making just his second start of the 2005 season, while Servia and Portland winner Cristiano da Matta (#21 Bell Micro Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) rounded out the top 10.
The session ended three minutes early as Marcus Marshall (#5 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) brought out the red flag with a spin into the Turn Seven tires. Marshall would end up 18th after being penalized for bringing out the scarlet banner.
The final grid for the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver presented by PacifiCare will be set with Saturday's final qualifying, which takes place beginning at 2 p.m. Mountain Time.