Analysis: Allmendinger Holds On

A pair of lengthy red-flag interruptions and a still-damp track surface rendered final qualifying for the inaugural Edmonton Champ Car race an academic exercise

No one came close to beating AJ Allmendinger's Friday time of 58.628 seconds and the Californian duly earned the first pole position of his Champ Car career. For good measure, he set the fastest time in today's session, pocketing an additional Championship point and underlining his status as the favourite heading into tomorrow's race.

Heavy morning rain caused the regular hour-long free practice session to be rescheduled and compressed to a 45-minute recce immediately prior to qualifying. Justin Wilson paced that session with a time of 61.108, suggesting there was some prospect of the track drying out enough for a shuffling of the order in qualifying.

But the two red flags - one for a collision between Mario Dominguez and Alex Tagliani and the other for separate incidents involving Timo Glock and Alex Sperafico - put paid to any improvements and meant that the starting line-up is unchanged from the overnight order.

Thus Wilson was unable to take the fight to teammate Allmendinger and had to settle for second on the grid, ensuring a mirror image of RuSPORT's previous front row lock-out at Portland last month. Furthermore, the Englishman had to nurse a damaged car back to the pits at the end of the session after inadvertently punting Glock into the barriers at Turn Seven.

Paul Tracy starts third for Forsythe Championship Racing ahead of the leading Newman/Haas entry of Oriol Servia, who matched his best qualifying effort of the season. PKV Racing's Cristiano da Matta will be flanked on the third row by Tagliani, who was hit from behind by a fast-closing Dominguez halfway through this afternoon's session and sustained heavy damage to his #15 Aussie Vineyards Lola.

Dominguez escaped with only a broken nosecone and will line up eighth on the grid behind veteran Jimmy Vasser and ahead of top rookie Timo Glock.

Championship leader Sebastien Bourdais was one of several drivers with particular cause to be frustrated by the lack of running, after a crash during Friday qualifying saddled him with tenth place on the grid. With closest rival Tracy starting seven spots ahead of him, Bourdais may have to roll the strategic dice to haul himself into contention tomorrow afternoon.

Others to pay a heavy price for Friday woes were talented Canadian rookie Andrew Ranger, who was involved in a misunderstanding with Dominguez at the pit exit yesterday and lost precious track time, and Dane Ronnie Bremer, who has been finding his feet in an unfamiliar Dale Coyne Racing Lola and made significant progress today for no reward.

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