Qualifying 2: Carpentier keeps pole

Patrick Carpentier backed up his Friday pole by again turning the fastest lap in the final Champ Car qualifying session at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The French-Canadian edged the Newman-Haas Racing duo of Christian Fittipaldi and Cristiano da Matta to claim his first pole since 1998, moving into a tie for third in the CART championship in the process.

Qualifying 2: Carpentier keeps pole

Carpentier was guaranteed to start no worse than second courtesy of his Friday pole lap. But he pushed his Player's Reynard-Ford to the limit anyway to gain the satisfaction of beating the year's top driver in a straight fight for the second consecutive day.

The top spot changed hands six times in the last six minutes of the session, before Carpentier finally sealed the deal with 1m40s remaining. Da Matta bested Carpentier's Friday time of 1m07.040s on his third qualifying lap with a 1m06.914s, which he improved to 1m06.737s on a rather ragged next lap.

With six minutes to go, Carpentier improved to 1m06.771s, which was a true second to da Matta at that point. Two minutes later, Kenny Brack entered the picture with a 1m06.736s, which was beaten by Fittipaldi's 1m06.632s just 25 seconds later. But despite a big moment exiting Thunder Valley on his next lap, Brack moved back to the top with a 1m06.434s.

Da Matta was up to the challenge, clocking 1m06.394s with 2m40s to go. Exactly a minute later, Carpentier set the final mark at 1m06.128s, a time no one could beat, though Fittipaldi moved up to second with a 1m06.263s on his final lap.

"I'm pretty happy," Carpentier said. "The timing was good, and the engineers did a good job. The car was fast for one lap. I had to do it and I did. We decided to use another set of tyres to qualify rather than keep them for the race, and I'm glad we did.

"Bruce Ashmore (Player's/Forsythe Technical Director) said there would be tracks where the Reynard would be better than the Lola and he was right," Patrick added. "Today the chassis was good and Ford has made some improvements to the engine since Vancouver."

Fittipaldi earned the best starting position of his Mid-Ohio career in his Lola-Toyota.

"The car felt great and I could really push," he remarked. "I thought I had P1, but Pat beat me. I'm still happy.

"Tomorrow will be a long hard race," he added. "This track is really physical, especially on the neck. But it will be short compared to some of the races I'll be doing in NASCAR next year."

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