CHAMPCAR/CART: Montreal: Saturday qualifying report

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS GIVES NEWMAN/HAAS RACING ITS 100TH CHAMP CAR POLE AFTER PACING QUALIFYING IN MONTREAL MONTREAL (August 26, 2006) -- Newman/Haas Racing is one of the most-decorated teams in all of open-wheel racing, and its driver roster reads...

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS GIVES NEWMAN/HAAS RACING ITS 100TH CHAMP CAR POLE AFTER PACING QUALIFYING IN MONTREAL

MONTREAL (August 26, 2006) -- Newman/Haas Racing is one of the most-decorated teams in all of open-wheel racing, and its driver roster reads like a Who's Who of racing royalty with names like Andretti, Mansell, Fittipaldi and da Matta featuring prominently among its alumni.

But while the names of the past give the team much of its luster, its newest star has played a key role in maintaining its place among the hierarchy of Champ Car World Series squads. Today, the Chicago-based team added another page to its legend, as two-time defending Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford champion Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) earned the team its 100th Champ Car pole, besting a 17-car field to win the Bridgestone Pole Position for tomorrow's Champ Car Grand Prix of Montreal.

Bourdais scored his third consecutive Grand Prix of Montreal pole as well as his seventh of the season by getting around the 2.709-mile Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in a time of 1:20.005 (121.897 mph). Bourdais' Bridgestone Pole Position was the 25th of his career, tying him with Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) for seventh on the series' all-time pole list. The pole also earns Bourdais another championship point, widening his margin over second place to 34 points with four races to run.

The three championship contenders will all start within arm's reach of each other as A.J. Allmendinger (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) grids on the outside of the front row, scoring his fifth front-row grid spot of the year, while Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) takes the green flag tomorrow from the third spot.

The 30-minute final qualifying session took place in perfect weather conditions as a cloudless sky framed the proceedings on Montreal's Ile. Notre-Dame, and the competitors took full advantage. Seven drivers hit the 15-turn course at the drop of the green flag, with some of the veterans electing to watch the first few minutes from Pit Lane.

Times improved generally more than a full second over Friday's first round of qualifying, but Bourdais' Friday mark was never threatened until American Allmendinger vaulted to the top of the queue on his fifth lap. Allmendinger, who did not post a time Friday due to an engine problem, climbed to the top of the grid and temporarily brought teammate Tracy with him, as the pair had the top-two times in the session at the halfway point of the day.

That advantage soon vanished, however, as those that had waited in the pits began their first qualifying runs. Friday's second-quickest qualifier, Oriol Servia (#6 Bell Micro Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), started the run by climbing ahead of Tracy, but was soon dropped back as Wilson challenged Allemdinger's session-leading time. Wilson posted his best time on his next pass, carding a lap of 1:20.587 (121.017 mph), but Bourdais scrambled ahead of both of his title antagonists on his fifth lap, and then again on his seventh.

Tracy used his 13th lap around the Montreal road course to post his best time, stopping the clocks at 1:20.669 (120.894 mph) and scoring the fourth position on the grid. His teammate Allmendinger made a last-ditch run at Bourdais on his penultimate lap, getting his time down to 1:20.361 (121.357 mph), but would settle for second. Meanwhile, not knowing that Allmendinger would be unable to catch him, Bourdais posted his aforementioned polewinning time a minute later, using his 13th lap to secure the pole.

Tracy's fourth-place starting position is the best of his five Montreal starts while defending Montreal champion Servia will settle for fifth, marking the fifth time in the last six races that the PKV Racing veteran his gridded in the top five. Bruno Junqueira (#2 Hole In The Wall Camps Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will complete the third row for Sunday's race, earning the sixth spot with a time of 1:20.772 (120.740 mph).

The two leaders in the Roshfrans Rookie-of-the-Year battle will start side-by-side in Row Four, with Will Power (#15 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) snaring the seventh spot after posting a time of 1:21.156 (120.169 mph). His closest pursuer in the rookie points, Dan Clarke (#14 CTE Racing -- HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), takes the green from the eighth position, marking his best starting spot since he gridded sixth in Portland.

Hometown favorite Andrew Ranger (#27 WalMart Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) earned his fifth consecutive top-10 starting position today by claiming the ninth spot, while Nelson Philippe (#4 CTE Racing -- HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will round out the top 10.

Tomorrow's Champ Car Grand Prix of Montreal, Round 11 of the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, will get underway at 1:30 pm. Eastern Time and can be seen live on NBC Sports. Fans can also follow all of the action via the Race Director feature, which offers live timing, scoring, audio and video from your favorite drivers. The Race Director feature can be accessed on the official website of the Champ Car World Series, www.champcar.ws

QUOTES FROM THE TOP THREE QUALFIERS

Sebastien Bourdais: "I guess I'm really part of the family now because, obviously, to be part of a quarter of all the poles that the team has achieved is quite something in only four years. It just shows how good this group has become over the years. I take my hat off to these boys because, you know, they made it happen. I'm not alone in the car. A good driver without a good car can't do anything. I rely a lot on these boys, so it's a great feeling."

A.J. Allmendinger: "Yeah, I think I was pleased after practice. The car was really good. We seemed to struggle a little bit in qualifying. But the whole Forsythe Indeck team really got the car back together after the engine blew yesterday. To know that we only had one shot to get a good lap in, be up front, I'm fairly pleased. I think the last time we sat like this after qualifying I won the race. I'm okay with that. Denver, won the race in Denver."

Justin Wilson: "I don't mind (the possibility of rain Sunday). Whatever happens, happens. Whenever you look forward to a wet race, it turns out that your car is not very good and you struggle. It's best just to take it as it comes, keep an open mind. I'm not sure if we have to run the red option tires in the rain. I'm sure we'll manage whatever we do. Try and keep it out of the wall. Keep going after the championship. "

-credit: ccws

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Bruno Junqueira , Oriol Servia , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Nelson Philippe , Andrew Ranger , Will Power , Daniel Clarke