PAUL TRACY PACES FIRST-ROUND CHAMP CAR QUALIFYING SESSION FOR GRAND PRIX OF SAN JOSE SAN JOSE (July 28, 2006) -- Paul Tracy ( ...
PAUL TRACY PACES FIRST-ROUND CHAMP CAR QUALIFYING SESSION FOR GRAND PRIX OF SAN JOSE
SAN JOSE (July 28, 2006) -- Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) was the first car on track at the beginning of first-round qualifying for this weekend's Canary Foundation Grand Prix of San Jose, but he saved his best for last in taking the top spot in Friday's qualification session in front of a first-day crowd of 40,127.
Tracy turned a best lap of 50.156 seconds (103.573 mph) on his 13thtrip around the revamped 1.443-mile San Jose street course to lead the first qualifying session, besting series points leader Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) by a scant .004 seconds. Tracy scored a championship point for leading the day's festivities and earned a front-row starting spot for Sunday's race, marking his back-to-back front-row starting spots of the year.
The 2003 series champion was the first car on course at the start of the 35-minute session, taking advantage of a clear track to set a good time. He set a best time of 50.639 seconds on his first set of Bridgestone Potenzas and then got to Pit Lane just in time to see the red flag come out for Nicky Pastorelli (#8 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and his stricken car.
Tracy watched the next few minutes from the relative tranquility of his pit stall as Bourdais led a large group of cars out for their first qualifying stints. The reconfigured track took a little longer than normal to give up its speed, but by the time Bourdais and his group had six laps under their belts, Tracy had slid back to fifth while Bourdais jumped to the top spot ahead of Californian home-town favorite A.J. Allmendinger (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone).
Bourdais led Allmendinger by .007 seconds with Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), Cristiano da Matta (#10 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Oriol Servia (#6 Bell Micro Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) following close behind, when Allmendinger spun going into the runoff in Turn Seven.
Unable to turn around in the runoff, Allmendinger had to be retrieved by the tow truck, causing a red flag. The red flag meant that Allmendinger would lose his fastest lap of the session, but it didn't appear to be too severe of a penalty at the time, as his second-best lap was still good enough for second place.
The Californian strapped on a set of alternate Bridgestone Potenzas as soon as he got back to Pit Lane for the last six minutes of the session, now shooting at the time of 50.160 seconds (103.565 mph) that Bourdais had hung on the field. But while Allmendinger chased Bourdais, his Forsythe Championship Racing teammate Tracy came back on course and vaulted to the top with his eventual polewinning lap. Allmendinger managed to post one lap that was better than Tracy's but with that serving as his penalty lap, the young American would end up third with an official time of 50.246 seconds (103.387 mph).
Servia appeared destined for the fourth spot on the first-day grid, but he lost two spots in the blink of an eye as feast-or-famine rookie Dan Clarke (#14 CTE Racing -- HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) leapfrogged into fourth with a time of 50.278 seconds (103.322 mph), marking his best qualifying result in any session this year. Meanwhile Team Australia's Alex Tagliani (#15 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) carded a time of 50.373 seconds (103.127 mph) to vault into the top five.
Servia settled for sixth on the day while Friday-practice leader Nelson Philippe (#4 CTE Racing -- HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) came in late in the session to score the seventh-best time. Toronto winner Wilson was eighth in the first round with Bruno Junqueira (#2 Hole In The Wall Camps Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and da Matta rounding out the top 10.
The final grid will be set with Saturday's second-round qualifying which gets underway at 2 p.m. local time. Fans can follow all of the action via the Race Director feature on the official website of the Champ Car World Series, www.champcar.ws