Qualifying 2: Junqueira secures pole

Bruno Junqueira retained his pole position for Sunday's Denver Grand Prix despite not making a run in Saturday's final qualifying session. The Newman/Haas ace was ready to go out, the last man in the qualifying line, but aborted his run when it started to rain. There was no need for him to run because nobody had been able to beat his fast lap from Friday

Qualifying 2: Junqueira secures pole

Although pleased to claim pole, Junqueira was disappointed not to have the chance to earn an extra point for turning the best lap on Saturday. "Everyone had a chance apart from me," Junqueira said. "The car was really fast today and I thought I could put it on pole but it started to rain as I switched on the engine."

With championship leader Paul Tracy (Forsythe) qualifying ninth and Michel Jourdain Jr (Team Rahal) starting tenth Sunday's race provides Junqueira with a fine opportunity to close the gap in points to Tracy.

"The most important thing is to have a clean start and run a clean race and try to close the gap," Junqueira remarked. "It's a big chance for me to do that."

Fastest on Saturday and therefore taking the point for best lap on the day was Oriol Servia. The Spaniard improved dramatically from Friday, leaping from ninth to second in the starting line-up. The Patrick Racing driver is driving this weekend with his right wrist taped as a result of a collision with Junqueira during qualifying in Montreal last weekend.

Also making a big improvement today was Sebastien Bourdais who moved from seventh yesterday to third overall today. The Newman/Haas rookie had trouble with a broken damper on Friday and was able to find a much better balance today. "The car is quite good and we have a better starting position than I thought, so we maybe have a chance to do well in the race," Bourdais observed.

Adrian Fernandez had to rely on his Friday time to take fourth on the grid after locking his brakes and sliding down the escape road. Fernandez was caught out by rain which started to fall just as he began his qualifying run.

Tiago Monteiro (Fittipaldi/Dingman) improved from eighth to fifth today as he made his best qualifying run of the year. The Portugese driver has been competitive all weekend in Denver and hopes to score his best result of the year on Sunday.

Qualifying sixth today, despite spinning on his first of two qualifying laps was Forsythe's Patrick Carpentier. Next up was Darren Manning (Walker) who recovered from a disastrous morning practice session to qualify solidly among the top ten. Practice session pace-setter Mario Haberfield (Conquest) was eighth, explaining that his tyres took too many laps to come up to temperature for him to be able to equal his quick laps from the morning session.

Championship leader Paul Tracy was on schedule to steal the pole from Junqueira only to spin two turns before the end of his quick lap. "I knew I had a good time going," Tracy reported. "You've got just one lap to push to the limit on cold tyres and I lost it. It's frustrating."

Tracy admitted that the race will pose a test for he and the Player's team. "It's going to be a hard day," Tracy said. "We're going to have to pit out of sequence to make up ground. But we're going to have to be careful because it's very easy to slide off the road here."

Montreal winner Michel Jourdain qualified tenth, directly ahead of Montreal
pole-winner Alex Tagliani (Rocketsports), while Mika Salo qualified PK Racing's Lola seventeenth in his Champ Car debut.

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