CHAMPCAR/CART: Montreal: Saturday qualifying report

Sebastien Bourdais Wins Montreal Champ Car Pole With Last-Lap Fast Time MONTREAL (August 28, 2004) -- The legendary Montreal Canadiens of the 1970s and 1980s were known as the Flying Frenchmen, but after today's blistering performance in ...

Sebastien Bourdais Wins Montreal Champ Car Pole With Last-Lap Fast Time

MONTREAL (August 28, 2004) -- The legendary Montreal Canadiens of the 1970s and 1980s were known as the Flying Frenchmen, but after today's blistering performance in qualifying for Sunday's Molson Indy Montreal, the names Lafleur, Richard and Cournoyer will be joined by that of Sebastien Bourdais (#2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) in Montreal lore.

The Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford points leader snapped off a lap that was nearly four-tenths faster than anyone on the lot, and he did it at the very last minute to steal the pole away from rookie A.J. Allmendinger (#10 Western Union Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). Allmendinger had carded a best lap of 1:20.272 (121.492 mph) around the 2.709-mile Circuit Cilles-Villeneuve in Montreal, putting him .002 seconds ahead of Bourdais as the checkered flag flew on Saturday's final qualifying session and giving him a strong chance to earn the first pole of his young Champ Car career.

But Bourdais got past the starter's stand just 10 seconds before J.D. Wilbur sent the checkers fluttering through the air, giving the Newman/Haas Racing pilot one last shot to upend Allmendinger. Given that chance, Bourdais put an end to Allmendinger's pole aspirations as he hung a 1:19.897 (122.0652 mph) stunner on the field, taking his sixth pole of the year and his third in a row.

The pole run means that Bourdais will have started in the top three in each of the year's 10 races, and marks the 19th time in the Modern Era (1979-present) that a driver has won as many as six poles in a Champ Car season -- but Bourdais still has at least five races to try and better that mark. The modern record for poles in a season is nine, established by Danny Sullivan in 1988.

Allmendinger settled for second with his time, giving the young Californian the first front-row start of his 10-race Champ Car career. He put up his top time on the 13th lap of the day, then rolled down Pit Lane to await the outcome of the session. He watched Bourdais' final lap from the safety of his pit stall, and would content himself with the second-place starting spot.

The battle for the third position on the grid also raged on well after the checkered flag fell. Mario Dominguez (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Bruno Junqueira (#6 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) were swapping the spot back and forth, after each of them had held the pole at one point during the session. Junqueira went into the final lap in third and was looking to move up on his last pass, but ended up watching the remainder of the session from the inside of the hairpin curve as his Newman/Haas mount ran out of fuel.

Dominguez seized the opportunity presented by the dry fuel tank on the #6 car and vaulted into the third spot with a last lap of 1:20.316 (121.425 mph). The qualifying result is the best for Dominguez since he started on the outside of the front row in Monterrey, Mexico -- a race that saw him end up on the podium. The lap dropped Junqueira to fourth, marking the third consecutive time that the Brazilian has started in the second row in Montreal.

Paul Tracy (#1 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) led the Canadian contingent, stopping the clocks at 1:20.803 (120.694 mph) to score the fifth spot on Sunday's starting grid. The fifth position is the highest in the three Montreal races for Tracy, but he felt that he could have gotten more, as he ended his session 10 minutes early after a slight wall brush left him with suspension damage to his Forsythe Championship Racing machine.

He will start alongside hometown favorite and fellow Forsythe runner Patrick Carpentier (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) after Carpentier posted a quick lap of 1:20.836 (120.644 mph) to fill out the third row. The Great White North trio will all start back-to-back-to-back Sunday as Alex Tagliani (#8 Johnson Controls Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone ended up seventh with a best time of 1:20.889 (120.565 mph).

Rookie Justin Wilson (#34 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) used the experience he gained by running in the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix here a year ago to claim the eighth spot on the Sunday grid, while Ryan Hunter-Reay (#4 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) rebounded from a morning crash to card the ninth-best time of the day. Hunter-Reay will be joined in the fifth row by Oriol Servia (#11 YokeTV.com Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who earned his fifth top-10 start of the year today after posting a top time of 1:12.172 (120.145 mph).

Nelson Philippe (#14 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) got a new Lola for this race from his Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing team and promptly set a new career high for qualifying, as the now 18-year-old Frenchman scored the 13th spot after earning a time of 1:21.496 (119.667 mph).

The third running of the Molson Indy Montreal will take the green flag Sunday at 2 p.m. Eastern Time and can been seen live on HDNet, as well as on a tape-delayed basis on Spike TV. Fans can also follow all of the race action by using the Race Director feature on the official website of the series, www.champcarworldseries.com.

QUOTES FROM TOP THREE QUALIFIERS

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (#2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) "It was a much harder session today. I was taking it easy on the first run and on the second one I was getting frustrated because I kept running into traffic and then I made a small mistake. I had to put everything together in the end (of the qualifying session) for the McDonald's team. Denver definitely got the team even more motivated. We really want to win this championship and we showed (in Denver) that we will do everything it takes to do it."

A.J. ALLMENDINGER (#10 Western Union Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) "I'm really happy with today. Every lap my car just kept getting better and better. It was great to have the pole for awhile there, but (Sebastien) Bourdais is just unstoppable right now. I could've gotten another tenth, maybe a little more, but not enough to have beaten Sebastien. I'll take my first Champ Car front row starting position though. Western Union and Canada have been a good combination for us- the last time in Vancouver we had our first podium with them, so maybe it'll happen again tomorrow."

MARIO DOMINGUEZ (#55 Herdez Ford Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) "Well, we were trying to get the pole position, but third is a very good place to start the race from. We are in excellent position for tomorrow. We have a good car. So, you know, I'm not fully satisfied. I'm pretty happy with what we did and the Herdez team has done a great job past few races and we just keep improving. This race is going to be quite good fun to go tomorrow and I think we could do a fantastic job with the car we have."

NOTEWORTHY

* The pole position for Sebastien Bourdais is the 11th of his young career, moving him into 20th on the all-time Champ Car list, tying him with the late Rodger Ward, Danny Ongais and Dario Franchitti. He today eclipsed the number of poles won by such former champions as Dan Gurney, Alex Zanardi and Nigel Mansell.

* Guy Smith qualified 16th for Sunday's race in the Rocketsports Racing machine. Since joining the Champ Car World Series, Smith has qualified 16th in each of his three starts. He moved up to 10th in his first start three weeks ago in Elkhart Lake.

* A.J. Allmendinger joins Justin Wilson as the only rookies to start in the front row this year in Champ Car. Wilson started second in Cleveland but did not survive the first lap, tangling with Alex Tagliani and Paul Tracy. Last year Ryan Hunter-Reay and Sebastien Bourdais also earned front-row starting spots as rookie drivers.

-ccws-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Guy Smith , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Alex Zanardi , Oriol Servia , Nigel Mansell , Mario Dominguez , Dan Gurney , Danny Sullivan , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Danny Ongais , Nelson Philippe , Rodger Ward
Teams Conquest Racing