Another pole, another point for Tracy

Not only is Paul Tracy's 2003 season off to a winning start, the Canadian driver is racking up bonus points at a record pace. For the third time in four Champ Car races this year, Tracy set the pace on the first day of qualifying to earn a championship point

Another pole, another point for Tracy

More importantly, under a rule introduced by CART in 2002, Tracy's three first day poles have earned him three front row starts - a key element to his three consecutive race wins.

Saturday afternoon on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit, Tracy proved that his morning practice pace was no fluke. As the last man to run in single car qualifying, Tracy knew he had to beat Bruno Junqueira's lap of 37.022 seconds. He barely did, stopping the clocks at 37.006 seconds before taking the chequered flag with a lap almost 0.3 second faster than he had managed in practice.

Afterward, Tracy admitted that he nearly threw away the opportunity to take the top slot because he though he had an additional qualifying lap. The modified oval qualifying rules Champ Car is using at Brands Hatch gave each driver four flying laps.

"I guess I stopped concentrating on the lap count and I didn't realise I was on my final lap until the team came on the radio after Paddock and said, 'Last lap,' Tracy admitted. "I really had to work hard over the second half of the lap and push to eke out the time."

Thanks to additional bonus points earned for leading the most laps at St. Petersburg and Monterrey, Tracy now has 65 points, twenty-seven more than second place man Junqueira and 31 points clear of Michel Jourdain Jnr. The championship leader reckons the next step is to earn a final pole - which also ays a bonus point.

"I guess I'm starting to impress myself because I've never been a good qualifier," Tracy remarked with a laugh. "I'd like to do it on the second day as well as the first."

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First qualifying: Tracy on pole

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