Team Rahal driver Jimmy Vasser claims pole for the Grand Prix of Long Beach. Notes: VASSER TAKES POLE FROM DA MATTA BY .003 SECONDS - Team Rahal driver Jimmy Vasser claimed his first career pole at Long Beach by lapping the 1.968-mile...
Team Rahal driver Jimmy Vasser claims pole for the Grand Prix of Long Beach.
VASSER TAKES POLE FROM DA MATTA BY .003 SECONDS - Team Rahal driver Jimmy Vasser claimed his first career pole at Long Beach by lapping the 1.968-mile temporary street course in 1:07.742 seconds, just a scant .003 seconds faster than provisional pole sitter Cristiano da Matta (1:07.745) who will start second. Vasser's teammate, Michel Jourdain, Jr., qualified 10th, while Player's/Indeck driver Alex Tagliani will start 11th.
FORD-COSWORTH SCORES FIRST POLE AT LONG BEACH SINCE 1998 - Vasser's pole position is also Ford-Cosworth's first at Long Beach since 1998 when Bryan Herta accomplished the feat. Ironically, Herta was also driving for Team Rahal at the time.
JIMMY VASSER (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth) - Qualified 1st
"I really nailed the last section. I wasn't really that far ahead halfway around, but the most important thing is getting clear laps. We had some problems in the first run with that. We're out running and then guys are coming out of the pits on cold tires and it's such a timing thing that you get lucky to get a clear lap. We were finally able to put one together and I knew we would be able to do better than we did yesterday and this morning. We were a little bit fortunate to be out on a clear track."
TALK ABOUT MAKING THE MOVE TO YOUR BACKUP CAR. "We were forced into it in the first session this morning. We had a problem with the primary and I told my guys that there's something about this car that I like a little bit better. It ran good right at the end of the session and against popular demand I was able to twist a few arms and I was able to run it. The Ford-Cosworth is making some great power and this Shell team has their stuff together."
YOU'VE GOT TO BE REALLY PLEASED WITH HOW YOU DID IN THE BACKUP CAR. "We took it out at the end of the morning session and it was bloody quick, and that's what convinced us to jump to it. It was a little bit of a shaky decision, but it turned out good for us. "My Shell guys did a great job, Michel Jourdain's doing a great job too. We've got a lot of good energy with this team and I think we're going to have a bitchin' season."
MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth) - Qualified 10th
"I think some people are blocking a lot on purpose, and it's very bad. I'm very disappointed in that because I think we had a very good car. I'm very happy for Jimmy that he got the pole position, but I'm just very disappointed that we couldn't get a clean lap. I think we could've been in very good shape."
MARIO DOMINGUEZ (#16 Herdez Ford-Cosworth) - Qualified 17th
NOT WHERE YOU WERE LOOKING TO START, WAS IT? "Not really. We came in on our first stop and changed some things on the car, but they were not the right changes and I couldn't improve my time. We've just had a hard time trying to find a good setup here, but we're pretty close. I like the way the car is, but it's just a few tweaks here and there."
MAX PAPIS (#22 Rockwell First Point Ford-Cosworth) - Qualified 18th
"We were running very consistently in the top 10 during the morning session and we continued that into the beginning of qualifying. But then I went out on our second set of tires and I had gearbox problems and it wouldn't hold second gear any more. I tried to do a couple of laps but unfortunately we couldn't improve our lap time. It's a bit unfortunate because I think we could've showed a little bit better than we did, but I guess we did a good job starting at the back in Mexico and ending up in the top 10. I think we can do something as good, if not better, here tomorrow."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth) - Qualified 20th
WHAT WILL YOUR RACE STRATEGY BE WITH YOU STARTING SO FAR BACK? "We'll do what we did in Mexico - that's why we didn't go back out. We thought this would better suit our strategy than trying to go out and be mid-pack. We want to be either in the front or in the back and at the back we think we'll have a good chance."
SPECIFICALLY, WHAT WAS YOUR STRATEGY IN MEXICO? "We started at the back which put me out of the traffic, so I was able to run fast laps because I was by myself. Plus I have three sets of new tires because we hardly used any sets this weekend. I'll just run qualifying-type laps for the whole race and hopefully when I get into traffic I'll be at the front."