Neither rain nor Champ Car World Series rivals could stop Team Player's driver Paul Tracy from winning Portland pole. Portland, Oregon, June 21, 2003 Team Player's driver Paul Tracy beat the rain and the Champ Car World Series field on Saturday...
Neither rain nor Champ Car World Series rivals could stop Team Player's driver Paul Tracy from winning Portland pole.
Portland, Oregon, June 21, 2003 Team Player's driver Paul Tracy beat the rain and the Champ Car World Series field on Saturday with an early qualifying lap of 58.793 seconds (120.565 mph / 194.030 km/h) that earned him the pole for Sunday's G.I. Joe's 200 on the 1.969-mile Portland road course. It was Tracy's 15th career pole and his second of the season, for his fifth front-row start in eight races.
Tracy was awarded one point for winning the pole, drawing him within seven points of Michel Jourdain Jr., the current leader in the drivers' standings. Jourdain will be starting alongside Tracy on the front row of Sunday's grid after touring the course in 58.838 seconds.
Tracy's teammate Patrick Carpentier, thwarted by heavy traffic on what would likely have been his best lap of the session, had to settle for the 10th fastest time and will start from Row 5 as he tries to win his second race in as many weeks. Carpentier won his first race of the year last Sunday on the Laguna Seca road course in Monterey, California. Fellow Canadian Alex Tagliani, who was fastest in the practice session prior to today's qualifying, clocked the fifth fastest qualifying lap.
With rain quickly approaching, virtually the entire field emerged from the pits when the qualifying session went under green. Tracy wasted no time moving into third place and then registered the fastest lap of the weekend before pitting. Jourdain, who went out for his first laps about eight minutes into the session, was unable to displace Tracy on the leader board and by the time Jourdain went out for his second set of laps, the rain began to intensify.
"As bad as our timing was yesterday, today it was perfect," said Tracy. "We were concerned about the possibility of rain and the Team Player's crew made some changes after the morning practice. I was all fired up. I had a lot of motivation going into the qualifying session, and sometimes it's good to drive with that emotion. I'm thrilled with the pole, especially since it comes on a track where I haven't enjoyed that much success in recent years."
Carpentier, who improved from his 13th fastest time in the first qualifying session on Friday, said his car may not have been able to challenge his teammate for the pole, but he felt it was good enough to put him in the top 5. "We'll never know how much better it was, however, because I got blocked on what would have been my fastest lap. Still, the way the session unfolded, things could have been worse, so 10th isn't all that bad. If we're able to avoid traffic at the start of the race and if we can make up some ground through pit stops, we can still have a good result here."
Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the Grand Prix of Portland throughout the weekend (with the added virtual cockpit feature that is a must for telemetry fans) by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race live on the The Sports Network at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.