Qualifying 2: Bourdais grabs pole

Sebastien Bourdais turned in a superb performance to take his fourth pole in nine races on the fast, bumpy Cleveland airport circuit on Friday evening

Qualifying 2: Bourdais grabs pole

Bourdais took the pole with four minutes to go in the session then bettered his time in the last two minutes. It was a textbook perfect showing from the French rookie.

"Yesterday we found we had a very good car for these conditions," Bourdais said. "We really didn't make any changes today. We were fairly confident. I knew it was going to be okay as long as we had good conditions and a clear lap."

Bourdais was worried when the red flag came out after Paul Tracy spun and stalled in the middle of the session. Bourdais had not been able to turn a quick lap at that stage.

"Things were not going so good," he observed. "So on my second run I took my time to get up to speed and it worked fairly well."

Then Patrick Carpentier spun, although he kept the engine going and was able to continue. "I was a bit scared when Patrick spun because I thought there was going to be a red (flag)," Bourdais added. "But there wasn't any red and we were able to keep going and get the best from the car and the tyres. I tried to do a safe lap and not cause a red. I didn't feel I had achieved a very great lap but it turned out it was good enough."

Provisional polewinner Paul Tracy retained a place on the front row thanks to his quick lap from Friday. Tracy was unable to improve today and didn't help his cause by spinning and stalling in the middle of the session, cancelling his quick time of the session. Still, the championship leader will start from the front row for the sixth time this year.

"I was really pushing hard when I spun," Tracy said. "I had the throttle down hard and it got away from me. That meant on my second set of tyres I had to do two lap times because I was going to lose my time. There was a lot going on out there. Cars were spinning and dust was flying everywhere. So we decided to save the tyres for the race rather than risk ruining another set."

Tracy's team-mate Patrick Carpentier qualified third, just 0.044s slower than his compatriot. Oriol Servia equalled his best qualifying performance of the year by taking fourth on the grid with Bourdais's team-mate Bruno Junqueira qualifying fifth. Junqueira fell from second to fifth in the last minute of the session after a mid-session change in set-up proved to be the wrong move.

Michel Jourdain qualified sixth, only the third time this year he's qualified out of the top five. Fastest Reynard driver was Jimmy Vasser who qualified tenth directly ahead of team-mate Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Saturday's race takes the green flag at 20.30 eastern time and will be run over 115 laps of the fast, bumpy 2.106-mile airport circuit.

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