CHAMPCAR/CART: Tracy takes pole from Jourdain in Portland

CHAMPCAR/CART: Tracy takes pole from Jourdain in Portland

PORTLAND, Or (June 21, 2003) -- Canada's Paul Tracy turned in the quick time today in qualifying and will be on pole for the Champ Car World Series' G.I.Joe's 200 on Sunday. Tracy's time of 58.793 (120.565mph) narrowly topped Michel ...

PORTLAND, Or (June 21, 2003) -- Canada's Paul Tracy turned in the quick time today in qualifying and will be on pole for the Champ Car World Series' G.I.Joe's 200 on Sunday. Tracy's time of 58.793 (120.565mph) narrowly topped Michel Jourdain's 58.838 (120.473mph).

This was Tracy's best qualifying effort ever in Portland, and 15th pole position of his 13-year Champ Car career. "Track position is most important here," Tracy said. "I've never qualified fantastic here so it's a good feeling." Taking pole in final qualifying earns Tracy a valuable bonus point towards the driver championship.

Paul Tracy.
Photo by Paul Strak.
Tracy, who had been named by several drivers for blocking during Friday qualifying, held nothing back with his comments. "This pole is a message to all the naysayers in the paddock," stated Tracy. "And these would-be racer car drivers should remember that people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."

The first set of qualifying tires Tracy used seemed to be his best, and subsequent changes to the car only made it slower. Driving for Team Players this season, Tracy has done extensive testing here over the past winter and earlier this year.

Tracy continued, "We changed this and we changed that and then we put new tires on after our pit stop. We ran into some traffic and the car developed a push."

Jourdain, who had earned an extra point for his provisional pole during qualifying on Friday, will start on the outside of the front row.

"I think we were in a different position here today than everyone else," Jourdain said of his guaranteed front row starting position, derived from the top time on Friday. "Paul (Tracy) did a fantastic job, they've been very fast all weekend. I'm happy to start from the front row, it will be a long race."

As the field scrambled to beat the rain at the beginning of the stint, Jourdain, leading in the championship points, held back in the pits to see what would transpire-- and it would cost him.

"We decided to wait a little bit but the worst thing that could happen did happen, we were caught in traffic," Jourdain commented. "We knew we had a fast car, but last week we had the fastest car on the track too but we were behind other cars and it is very difficult to pass. If you are the fastest on the track you should be in front of the guy who is leading."

With half of the qualifying session completed, Roberto Moreno brought out the red flag when he spun off-course. The red flag must have been a signal to the heavens as the skies opened up and a heavy downpour ensued. The rain immediately brought a smile to Tracy's face, a sight not see in several weeks.

Mexico's Adrian Fernandez claimed the third starting position with a time of 58.948 (120.248mph), followed by rookie Sebastien Bourdais and Canadian Alex Tagliani in fourth and fifth respectively. The top five drivers all exceeded an average speed over 120mph.

With his third qualifying spot, Fernandez is in a position to make up some ground in the championship with a good finish. But sitting back is not Fernandez's nature.

"It depends on what Paul (Tracy) and Michel (Jourdain) do at the start," Fernandez said. "I went from fifth to fourth (on the opening lap) at Laguna last week so if there's a chance to move up I'll take it."

Most of the front-runners from Friday improved their times significantly, although Newman/Haas Racing's Bruno Junquiera did not fare as well. The Brazilian driver, who currently sits second in driver points to Jourdain, only improved two-tenths of a second, good only for 11th on the grid.

"Paul Tracy blocked me every lap on my first run," stated Junquiera. "I had the car to be on pole, and I'm back there. When I catch him tomorrow, he's going to get what he deserves."

American Spirit Team Johansen driver Jimmy Vasser, who nearly took the provisional pole away from Jourdain with clearly his best effort of the season, just 0.036 seconds behind the Mexican driver, did not do as well today and will start from ninth.

Max Papis is making his return to Champ Car Series this weekend for PK Racing. Although certainly not his best qualifying effort, considering that he took victory in this event in 2001, Papis will start his comeback from inside the eighth row.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Max Papis , Adrian Fernandez , Roberto Moreno , Paul Tracy , Sébastien Bourdais , Michel Jourdain