Qualifying 2: Fernandez steals pole

Adrian Fernandez vanquished the fancied runners to claim pole position for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Miami. The 40-year old Mexican owner/driver turned a lap of 44.253s to edge Patrick Racing's Oriol Servia by a narrow 0.036s, though Servia will start third on the grid behind Bruno Junqueira thanks to CART's qualifying rules that guarantee the Friday pole man a front row spot.

Qualifying 2: Fernandez steals pole

Junqueira was the last man to qualify in the single-car session, but the Brazilian clipped a wall entering the fountain complex with his left front wheel and ricocheted hard into the opposite wall, heavily damaging the right-front corner of his Newman/Haas Lola. Junqueira's Saturday lap of 44.521s was still good enough for third fastest overall.

"That was a fantastic effort by the team," Fernandez said after his first pole of 2003 and the fourth of his Champ Car career. "The team worked really well and this couldn't have come at a better time, just prior to the Mexico City race. My car was just fantastic. When you have to push that hard and keep it between the walls, it's not easy."

Junqueira crashed at the same place Patrick Carpentier (Forsythe) did earlier in the qualifying session. "This track doesn't permit too many errors," Fernandez noted. "If you push too much, it's not forgiving and I think I brushed the wall quite a few times. You have to stay very focussed."

With a front row start guaranteed, Junqueira had almost nothing to lose by really going for it in final qualifying, but he was unhappy with himself after giving his mechanics a long night of work. In fact, there is concern that the Brazilian may have damaged the car's tub, in which case he would have to start from the back of the field in his spare.

"I knew I was a couple of tenths off Adrian's time and I tried to push a little more," he said. "Maybe I went over the top because I locked the rear wheels and the car went to the left and touched the wall. It was very frustrating because it was my second crash of the weekend and I don't normally crash. But that's the way it is."

Servia has finished on the podium in the last two races but he is still in search of his first race win in Champ Cars. "Adrian did an outstanding job to beat me," he remarked after lapping at 44.269s. "It was important to qualify well here because it's so difficult to overtake. I did a very good lap and I was happy with my performance but I was thirty-thousandths too slow."

Junqueira's team-mate Sebastien Bourdais dropped from third on the overnight grid to fourth. But the biggest disappointment came at PK Racing, where Mika Salo plunged from second yesterday to 15th today.

CART championship leader Paul Tracy will line up fifth, sharing the third row with Michel Jourdain.

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