It's home sweet home for Team Player's as native son Paul Tracy wins the pole at Molson Indy Toronto Toronto, Ontario, July 12, 2003 Paul Tracy of Team Player's became only the second Canadian driver to win the pole at Molson Indy Toronto ...
It's home sweet home for Team Player's as native son Paul Tracy wins the pole at Molson Indy Toronto
Toronto, Ontario, July 12, 2003 Paul Tracy of Team Player's became only the second Canadian driver to win the pole at Molson Indy Toronto on Saturday, delighting a partisan crowd by touring the 1.755-mile street circuit a half-second faster than closest rival Bruno Junqueira. In taking the pole, Tracy, who grew up in the shadows of the Molson Indy Toronto racing venue, duplicated a feat achieved by former Team Player's driver Jacques Villeneuve in 1995.
Tracy's pole capped an impressive day of qualifying by Canadian drivers in their "homecoming" race the first of three on the Champ Car World Series schedule. The three Canadians in the series Tracy, Alex Tagliani and Tracy's teammate Patrick Carpentier will respectively start Sunday's 112-lap race from the first, fourth and fifth position on the grid.
Junqueira, the Brazilian driver who had won the provisional pole on Friday, will start alongside Tracy on the front row. The extra point for the pole Tracy's third of the season and 15th of his career restored Tracy's lead over Junqueira in the driver's championship to eight points (118-110).
Tracy has qualified on the front row in seven of the 10 races thus far.
"This is a monumental achievement for Team Player's, to be on the pole in its last appearance here in Toronto," said Tracy, the only Canadian driver to win Molson Indy Toronto, a feat he accomplished in 1993. "I'm glad we were able to get the job done. It's just a great day."
Entering the day, the time to beat was the 59.332 seconds clocked by Junqueira in provisional qualifying. Tracy came within a tenth of that time on his first stint on Saturday, and then played the unpredictable weather to perfection, returning to the track as it was drying out and putting down a monstrous quick lap of 58.839 seconds (107.378 mph / 172.808 km/h). Junqueira waited until the final 10 minutes of the session to use his laps, but his best tour of the track was in 59.332 seconds.
"I knew when I did the 59.4 early in the session that it wasn't going to be enough," related Tracy. "I was surprised that I got another chance for some hot laps because first there was a red flag and then I could see drops of rain on my visor. I figured that would be it for chances of a fast lap. I thought I was going to end up sixth or seventh. But the track dried out and we were able to give it one more good shot, and that was enough for the pole."
Carpentier, whose best time 59.364 seconds (106.428 mph / 171.279 km/h) came on his final lap of the session, said he might have been able to top that quick lap early in his second stint, but he was caught in traffic "just when the track and the tires were at the right temperature."
"Fifth is good, but you have to be closer to the front to hope for a win in Toronto," he said. "The car is very good, because Team Player's improved it a lot from the morning practice session. We know we will be competitive for the race, and if we play our cards right, we have a good shot at a podium finish."
Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at Molson Indy Toronto by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch live on the Global network at 12:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.