Jimmy Vasser took pole position for the Grand Prix of Long Beach with a blistering lap of 1:07.742 in the closing minutes of the second and final qualifying session for the CART Champ Cars. Vasser used his backup Team Rahal Lola to set the fast...
Jimmy Vasser took pole position for the Grand Prix of Long Beach with a blistering lap of 1:07.742 in the closing minutes of the second and final qualifying session for the CART Champ Cars. Vasser used his backup Team Rahal Lola to set the fast time after a broken oil pipe broke in his primary car during the Saturday morning practice session. After bringing the backup car out to finish the morning practice, Vasser chose to use it to qualify "It had some characteristics that I thought felt quick and after talking back at the truck we decided to go for the switch to the backup car" he remarked. This is the eighth pole position of Vasser's career and his first since the 1999 Michigan race. It is his first on a temporary circuit since the Cleveland race of 1998.
Cristiano da Matta, fastest in the first qualifying session, was second fastest in today's session. Da Matta was the first to do a lap in less than 1 minute, 8 seconds, turning a 1:07.745 time in his Newman-Haas Lola with just seven minutes remaining in the session. Vasser turned in his pole lap less than a minute later. "The car is pretty consistent, so I think it will be a good battle for tomorrow's race." da Matta said.
The session ended two minutes early when Michael Andretti spun and nosed into the wall outside of turn 10. Paul Tracy's session ended a few laps earlier when he hit the same wall with the right rear of his Reynard. Unlike his Team Green teammate, Tracy was able to return to the pits with his damaged car. Tracy was able to record the eighth fastest time, while Andretti was mired back in fifteenth place.
Bruno Junqueira, fastest in the Saturday morning practice, took the third spot on the grid with his Saturday time. While pleased to be near the front of the grid, Junqueira was disappointed that he wasn't able to back up his morning performance. Junqueira's Ganassi Racing teammate, Kenny Brack, was fourth quickest.
Late in the session, several drivers advanced up the time sheet with quick runs. Townsend Bell turned a 1:08.267 lap to move up the Patrick Racing car to fifth just before the red and checkered flags waved to stop the session. Bell was the top qualifier in a Reynard chassis, followed by Mo Nunn Racing's driver, Tony Kanaan, in another Reynard. Adrian Fernandez also had a late-session flyer in his backup Lola to place seventh on the grid.