CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland: Saturday report

Sebastien Bourdais Leads Newman/Haas Racing Front-Row Sweep in Champ Car World Series Qualifying at Portland International Raceway PORTLAND (June 19, 2004) -- Sebastien Bourdais ( ...

Sebastien Bourdais Leads Newman/Haas Racing Front-Row Sweep in Champ Car World Series Qualifying at Portland International Raceway

PORTLAND (June 19, 2004) -- Sebastien Bourdais (#2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) watched his Newman/Haas teammate figuratively disappear in the distance during first-round qualifying for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland, but he and his McDonald's-sponsored machine made up the distance and then some during Saturday qualifying as he scored the pole for Sunday's 94-lap event at Portland International Raceway.

Bourdais took advantage of a penalty that led to Friday leader Bruno Junqueira (#6 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) abandoning his final session and hung a lap of 59.229 seconds (119.678 mph) on the field to take the top spot for Sunday's Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford event. The pole is the second of the season for Bourdais and the seventh of his young career, marking an amazing qualifying percentage that has seen him score poles in seven of his 22 career Champ Car starts.

Bourdais rolled his Newman/Haas machine out at the drop of the green flag on today's sun-drenched qualifying session, taking advantage of a clear track to improve his time from Friday on just his third lap. He came back in a strapped on a new set of Bridgestone Potenzas and used his ninth lap around the 1.969-mile Portland International Raceway to vault ahead of his teammate and into the top spot.

Junqueira will start second for tomorrow's event by virtue of his leading Friday qualifying, but stepped out of his car after five laps of Saturday's qualifying. He received a penalty from Champ Car stewards for violation of Champ Car Rule 6.17.4i, which is given to a competitor that is found to have impeded another competitor's qualifying lap. Upon receiving the penalty and realizing that he would have needed to post two flying laps to secure the pole, the team eschewed further qualifying in order to save tires for tomorrow's event.

Junqueira was not the only frontrunner to have trouble on a warm Saturday as 2003 series champion Paul Tracy (#1 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) ended his run for the pole in the Turn Seven tires. Tracy will start third despite losing his fastest lap for bringing out the red flag with the contact, having posted a lap of 59.314 seconds (119.506 mph) to back up the 59.295 that he had to forfeit. The defending Vanderbilt Cup winner led 42 laps in last year's event in Portland but has yet to score a win on the Oregon road course.

A pair of rookies showed that they acclimated themselves well to the Portland layout as Justin Wilson (#34 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and A.J. Allmendinger (#10 BG Products/Red Bull Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) earned the fourth and the fifth starting spots for tomorrow's event. Wilson earned his second top-four start of the 2004 season by carding a best lap of 59.414 seconds (119.305 mph), leapfrogging five drivers to score the fourth position. He was chased by Allmendinger, who sets a new Champ Car career high by starting tomorrow's event in the fifth position. Fourth in Friday qualifying, Allmendinger posted a fast lap of 59.654 seconds (118.825 mph) to set his new personal standard.

Mario Dominguez (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will start sixth after making a late orbit in 59.757 seconds (118.620 mph) while 2003 Portland podium placer Alex Tagliani (#8 Johnson Controls Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will slot into the seventh position by virtue of his Friday effort. Tagliani was one of six drivers that had to stand on Friday's time after failing to improve their lot during Saturday's runs.

Tagliani will be joined by Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) in the fourth row, maintaining some of the momentum gained by his Milwaukee podium with a season-best qualifying run. Jourdain put his RuSPORT machine in the eighth slot on the grid with a time of 59.922 seconds (118.337 mph). Jourdain also led 42 laps in Portland a year ago but had his run for a win ended with contact in the fabled Festival Curves.

PKV Racing's Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will tie the legendary Mario Andretti for career Champ Car starts tomorrow, but took care of business today by putting his machine in the ninth spot for Sunday's race. Vasser has qualified in the top 10 in each of the first four events of the season, picking up his pace after scoring top-10 spots in just half of the 18 events run during the 2003 campaign.

Milwaukee winner Ryan Hunter-Reay (#4 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will start 10th in tomorrow's event with rookie Roberto Gonzalez (#21 NII Holdings Ford-Cosworth/Lola/ Bridgestone) following behind after a career-best qualifying effort that left him 11th. Gonzalez was the last of the drivers to break the one-minute barrier on the day, carding a best lap of 59.987 seconds (118.166 mph).

Tomorrow's 94-lap event will get underway at 1 p.m. local time, 4 p.m. Eastern Time, and can be seen live in the Eastern and Central Time Zones on Spike TV. The nationwide live feed of the race can also be seen at 4 p.m. on HDNet. Fans can also subscribe to the new Race Director feature on the official website of the Champ Car World Series, www.champcarworldseries.com.

QUOTES FROM THE TOP THREE QUALIFIERS

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (#2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) "The Newman/Haas team has been great this whole weekend for both Bruno and myself. We had a good test and have a good car set-up. I think we will be in good shape for tomorrow's race because the McDonald's car is handling very well, it will all depend on the temperature tomorrow and how the tires wear. We have plenty of sticker tires to use, along with the alternate tire, so it should be a good race."

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (#6 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) "The PacifiCare car has been good all weekend. I feel that we could have been on the pole. However, after I was penalized, my team figured there was no point for me to run any more since my best lap would be taken from me and I was already guaranteed a front row start from winning the provisional pole yesterday. It is frustrating, but the PacifiCare team has worked real hard, and the car is good. I guarantee that I will be the first car into the Festival Curves tomorrow and that I will lead the first lap."

PAUL TRACY (#1 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) "The car was ok. The crash obviously did not help us obtain the pole today. The damage is minor, just need to repair the back wing, so that is good. I feel that I could have gotten more from the car. On the lap I was on prior to my incident, I was running a very fast time that could have gotten us the pole. I began to experience oversteer, I was trying to keep it on the track and away from the wall, but there was nothing I could do. Today is not terrible; we were where we wanted to be, but just not there all the way."

NOTEWORTHY

* Bruno Junqueira, Alex Sperafico and Gaston Mazzacane were all penalized for violations of rule 6.17.4i, which deals with drivers found to be interfering with a competitor's qualifying lap.

* Sebastien Bourdais has qualified in the front row for each of the season's first four races, including winning two pole positions. This equals an all-time Champ Car modern era (1979-Present) for most consecutive front-row starts to begin a season. Paul Tracy (2003) also began last year with four consecutive front-row starts but ended his streak in Round 5 in Brands Hatch by qualifying 16th.

* Bourdais earned a championship point for winning the pole for Sunday's race, moving him into a tie for third with Ryan Hunter-Reay with 66 points. Bourdais was the points leader after the year's second race.

-cws-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gaston Mazzacane , Justin Wilson , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Mario Dominguez , Mario Andretti , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Roberto Gonzalez , Alex Sperafico , Michel Jourdain