CHAMPCAR/CART: Miami: Saturday qualifying report

Adrian Fernandez Wins CART Pole in Miami MIAMI (September 27, 2003) -- The sound of roaring Champ Cars and screaming turbocharged engines were reduced to a whisper by a monstrous roar from South of the Border in Miami Saturday afternoon as...

Adrian Fernandez Wins CART Pole in Miami

MIAMI (September 27, 2003) -- The sound of roaring Champ Cars and screaming turbocharged engines were reduced to a whisper by a monstrous roar from South of the Border in Miami Saturday afternoon as Mexican CART Champ Car hero Adrian Fernandez (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) bested the 19-car field in taking the pole for Sunday's Grand Prix Americas Presented by Sportsbook.com.

Fernandez earned his first pole of the season on a balmy Saturday in Miami, negotiating the Florida street course in a time of 44.253 seconds (93.553 mph) to claim the top spot for Sunday's 135-lap race. Fifth in Friday's first round of qualifying, Fernandez turned up the heat during his final run to claim the fourth pole of his 11-year series career. The time represents a new track record on the reconfigured 1.15-mile street circuit and puts him on the inside of the front row as he hunts for his second win of the season. The pole also earned Fernandez a championship point, boosting his season total to 93.

His lap was a scant .036 seconds quicker than that of Oriol Servia (#20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) but would be good enough for the top spot. Servia ran the second-best lap of the day with an orbit of 44.289 seconds (93.477 mph), but would end up starting third on the grid for Sunday's event. The second spot would go to Friday qualifying leader Bruno Junqueira (#1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who guaranteed himself a front-row starting spot by pacing the first-round runs.

He ran the third-best time of the day on just his second lap of single-car qualifying, hanging a time of 44.521 seconds (92.990 mph) on the field. He would go off in search of a better time on his third trip around the course but spun in Turn Three and went into the tire barrier, ending his chance for the pole. He will however, start in the front row for the seventh time this season as he continues to try and cut into what is a 17-point advantage for series leader Paul Tracy (#3 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone).

Tracy will start tomorrow's race from the fifth spot on the grid, himself overcoming an on-track problem to earn a top-five spot. Tracy put up a time of 44.768 seconds (92.477 mph) on his second lap but spun on his final trip around the course and failed to finish his final circuit. He would still break a qualifying mini-slump with the run however, and will start in the top five for the first time in the last three races.

Rookie points leader Sebastien Bourdais (#2 McDonald's/Lilly Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) filled out the fourth spot ahead of Tracy and will start directly behind his Newman/Haas Racing teammate as they head into the first turn on Sunday. Bourdais carried the Golden Arches to the fourth spot on the grid with a time of 44.609 seconds (92.806 mph). The Frenchman will be looking to seal the Rookie-of-the-Year title in Sunday's race, taking the award away from Miami with him if he finishes as high as third, or if he scores seven more points that closest pursuer Darren Manning (#15 RAC/Walker Racing Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone).

Tracy starts alongside Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) in the third row after Jourdain used a lap of 44.939 seconds (92.125 mph) to take the sixth position on the grid. Jourdain started 15th at Miami a year ago but climbed eagerly through the field to finish sixth. The winner of the Molson Indy Montreal, Jourdain will be in search of another good result as he tries to keep his championship hopes alive as he enters Sunday carrying a 39-point deficit to Tracy.

The Herdez Competition squad will make up the fourth row for Sunday's event with Roberto Moreno (#4 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Mario Dominguez (#4 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will start seventh and eighth respectively. Moreno's seventh-place starting spot is his best since Vancouver while his teammate's run is his best since Elkhart Lake.

Tiago Monteiro (#7 Fittipaldi-Dingman Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) has earned back-to-back top-10 starting spots for the first time in his young Champ Car career after carding the ninth-best qualifying time on Saturday. Monteiro used a time of 45.318 seconds (91.354 mph) to score the ninth position, putting him one spot ahead of Alex Tagliani (#33 Johnson Controls Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who will grid 10th.

Reynards made up the next four spots on the final grid with Jimmy Vasser (#12 American Spirit Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) leading the way in 11th. Manning, Mario Haberfeld (#34 Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (#31 American Spirit Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) would claim places 12-14 respectively, while Friday's second qualifier Mika Salo (#27 PK Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) had to settle for using his Friday time for the 15th spot as he could not better his first-round effort in Saturday qualifying.

Two other drivers would end up sticking with their Friday efforts for a grid position as Patrick Carpentier (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) would hit the tire wall before posting a new qualifying time while Alex Sperafico (#19 Dale Coyne Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) would pull his car out of the qualifying line after a crash at the end of morning practice forced his team to spend the session repairing the car for Sunday's race.

The 135-lap Grand Prix Americas Presented by Sportsbook.com will take the green flag at 1 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday and can be seen on CBS Sports. Eighty-five markets will see the race live with the other to see a tape-delayed broadcast at 4:15 p.m. Eastern. A complete list of broadcast times for the nation can be found on the series' official website www.champcarworldseries.com

QUOTES FROM TOP THREE QUALIFIERS

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "We took a new approach with our team the last few weeks and its really started to pay off for us. We found a good balance on the car. I wanted to take the last turn flat but I had to lift slightly. Other than that it was a good lap and it puts me in position for a good race tomorrow."

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (#1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "This morning the PacifiCare car was really good. We were the fastest in the session and I knew we had a car good enough to be on pole. I was really confident I could repeat yesterday's performance. I didn't push on the first and second laps and I knew I had to push a little more on the last lap. Maybe I pushed too hard on the last lap. I'm disappointed because we had a car good enough to be on pole and we really needed that point for the championship."

ORIOL SERVIA (#20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "I'm disappointed to be just .036 seconds off the pole. It seems like we've been very close to winning the pole lately. I was fastest Saturday in Denver but we haven't gotten it yet. We're happy with the result and hope to follow it up with a good race tomorrow."

NOTEWORTHY

* Adrian Fernandez won the third pole in the history of Fernandez Racing and first since he paced qualifying at the Milwaukee Mile last season. This is his first road- or street-course pole since he led qualifying in last year's season opener in Monterrey, Mexico.

* Oriol Servia will be looking for his third straight podium finish tomorrow, a feat that would be the first in his four-year career. Patrick Racing has not earned three consecutive podium finishes since 1989 when Emerson Fittipaldi took five straight podiums en route to the 1989 series championship.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Mario Haberfeld , Darren Manning , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Adrian Fernandez , Roberto Moreno , Mika Salo , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Mario Dominguez , Tiago Monteiro , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Sébastien Bourdais , Emerson Fittipaldi , Alex Sperafico , Dale Coyne , Michel Jourdain
Teams Conquest Racing , Dale Coyne Racing