Herta qualifies fourth on comeback

Bryan Herta starred on his return to the CART Championship Series by qualifying fourth at Laguna Seca

Herta qualifies fourth on comeback

The American has won at the California venue for the past two seasons, but was dropped by Team Rahal at the end of 1999. He was supposed to join Forsythe Championship Racing's works Swift squad this season, but a political dispute left both Herta and FCR on the sidelines, apart from brief substitute driver roles with Walker Racing and Mo Nunn Racing.

However, Jerry Forsythe arranged a deal for him to drive a Reynard-Ford under the FCR banner at Laguna this weekend. Despite missing Friday qualifying due to a fuel pump problem, Herta was fastest in both morning practice and 'slow group' qualifying today, doing enough to place himself fourth on the final grid.

"It was tough, that was a 100% lap," he said after lapping a second quicker than anyone else in his qualifying group. "That has to be as good as a lap as I've ever run.

"I'm really pleased, given where we've come from, I couldn't be happier."

Herta believes that his enforced absence has made him a better driver.

"It hurt a lot to sit watching when I wanted to be out there racing," he admitted. "But it made me realise just how much I want to be out there. It rejuvenated me and it's going to be a big benefit in the long run."

His future remains unclear beyond this weekend though. It is not known whether Herta and FCR will be entered for next weekend's Gateway round. It is possible that the squad will be sidelined again until the season finale at Fontana.

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