CHAMPCAR/CART: Denver: Lola Cars Saturday qualifying report

Junqueira leads 7-car Lola train in Denver sets new track record en route to 4th career pole position. Bruno Junqueira timed an early fast lap in the ...

Junqueira leads 7-car Lola train in Denver sets new track record en route to 4th career pole position.

Bruno Junqueira timed an early fast lap in the #4 Team Target Lola/Toyota to perfection, running the 1.647-mile Shell Grand Prix of Denver street circuit in 61.703 seconds (96.093mph) on his sixth of 15 allotted tours of the 9-turn track. He claimed his fourth career Champ Car pole position and third this year. Provisional polesitter Adrian Fernandez caused the sole qualifying stoppage, erasing his quick lap of 61.942 seconds and using his Friday time to start second in the #51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Lola/Honda. Teammate, Shinji Nakano ripped a lap of 61.808 seconds (95.929mph) and will bring the #52 Alpine/Mitsuba Lola/Honda to third on the 18-car grid. Fourteen drivers qualified within one second.

Junqueira holds 3rd place in the title hunt with 102 points. "Yesterday we thought we had a fast car but never had the chance to show it. I thought we'd go out a little earlier today and the car was really good on the first set of tires." The circuit didn't improve as the session went on. Fernandez, who spun at Turn 5 to bring out the red admitted, "I was trying too hard and the grip just wasn't there." Nakano set his quick time on his fifth of 15 laps said, "the team gave me a good car and I'm very happy. We had a terrible qualifying yesterday (he was 14th). Adrian helped me a lot this morning."

Scott Dixon, second in morning practice, copped 4th on the grid in his #44 Coors Light Lola/Toyota, his time of 61.888 seconds (95.805mph) coming on his third flying lap. Christian Fittipaldi, third Friday in the #11 Lilly Lola/Toyota starts 5th after a tour of 61.992 seconds (95.645mph). "I regret waiting too late today, as you have to get your fast lap in at exactly the right time on a track like this," Fittipaldi stated. Kenny Brack, ninth Friday in the #12 Target Lola/Toyota improved to sixth in final time trials with a lap of 62.049 seconds (95.557mph). Cristiano da Matta's streak of nine straight top-three qualifying slots was broken today as CART's point leader turned a lap of 62.149 seconds (95.403mph) in the #6 Havoline Lola/Toyota. "Seventh isn't an awful place to start but 1st is a lot easier," da Matta chuckled. "We'll have to be very careful and keep our nose clean for the first few laps. The balance was okay but we just didn't have any grip."

Sunday's Shell Grand Prix of Denver was originally set for 115 laps, but with the blazing sun, heat (air 90-92; track 118-126 degrees) and worries about engine and brake wear, CART reduced the lap count to 100. The race is set to take the green flags at 2pm MDT and is shown live on Speed.

-lola-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Adrian Fernandez , Christian Fittipaldi , Scott Dixon , Shinji Nakano , Cristiano da Matta