Tracy Holds On to Denver Pole

Paul Tracy will start the Champ Car Grand Prix of Denver from pole position after withstanding a stern challenge from Sebastien Bourdais in final qualifying

Tracy Holds On to Denver Pole

The Frenchman set the pace by a commanding 0.58s margin in free practice this morning, but once again had to give best to his Forsythe Championship Racing rival in this afternoon's decisive 35-minute session.

Tracy - out for every point he can get to chip away at Bourdais' Championship lead - wasted no time in getting down to business and set what turned out to be the pole-winning time after just five minutes.

Champ Car qualifying sessions typically split into two distinct flurries of activity as the drivers attempt to string together a pair of runs on two sets of Bridgestone tyres. But their second runs were thwarted by an untimely red-flag stoppage after Ryan Hunter-Reay slid into the tyre barrier at Turn Five with a couple of minutes left on the clock.

That left Tracy sitting pretty, and the Canadian duly notched up his third pole of the season, trimming Bourdais' advantage in the overall standings to 26 points.

The Newman/Haas driver did succeed in elevating himself to the front row at the expense of the second Forsythe entry of Mario Dominguez - the only order change from yesterday among the top five places.

Dominguez was close behind in third and was disappointed to lose a front-row berth after getting sideways in the penultimate corner on his fastest lap.

The RuSPORT duo of AJ Allmendinger and Justin Wilson remained closely matched in fourth and fifth respectively.

Allmendinger opted to run out-of-sequence with most of the other runners, seeking a clear track to make his mark. The ploy might have paid dividends had the balance of his #10 Western Union Lola been up to the task, but the young American found himself battling turn-in understeer and snap oversteer and wound up half a second adrift of Tracy's pole time.

Next up were two drivers who made major improvements on their provisional qualifying positions: Jimmy Vasser vaulted from 13th to sixth in the leading PKV Racing entry, and Alex Tagliani jumped from 11th to seventh for Team Australia.

The French-Canadian will chalk up the 100th start of his Champ Car career when he takes the green flag in tomorrow's race.

He will be flanked on the fourth row of the grid by Oriol Servia, who has been struggling all weekend to arrive at a suitable set-up and finished more than three-quarters of a second adrift of Newman/Haas teammate Bourdais.

Cristiano da Matta was ninth fastest in the second PKV machine ahead of Rocketsports Racing's Timo Glock, who once again topped the rookie class - albeit narrowly from Andrew Ranger, who finally made significant headway after a difficult weekend so far.

Ricardo Sperafico qualified 12th for Dale Coyne Racing, but might have done considerably better had his car not coasted to a stop a little more than halfway into the session. The same fate befell teammate Ronnie Bremer, who will start a disappointed 16th.

Meanwhile at the sharp end of the field, a battle royal between perennial sparring partners Tracy and Bourdais is in prospect heading into tomorrow's race. If either of them can emulate Bourdais' barnstorming 2004 performance, it will be well worth watching...

Pos Driver Team Best Time Laps 1. Paul Tracy Forsythe Championship 59.432 28 2. Sebastien Bourdais Newman Haas 59.541 + 0.109 28 3. Mario Dominguez Forsythe Championship 59.644 + 0.212 30 4. A.J. Allmendinger RuSPORT 59.938 + 0.506 25 5. Justin Wilson RuSPORT 59.962 + 0.530 29 6. Jimmy Vasser PKV 59.995 + 0.563 27 7. Alex Tagliani Team Australia 1:00.156 + 0.724 22 8. Oriol Servia Newman Haas 1:00.331 + 0.899 27 9. Cristiano da Matta PKV 1:00.493 + 1.061 27 10. Timo Glock Rocketsports 1:00.529 + 1.097 30 11. Andrew Ranger Mi-Jack Conquest 1:00.704 + 1.272 29 12. Ricardo Sperafico Dale Coyne 1:00.732 + 1.300 29 13. Rodolfo Lavin HVM, Inc. 1:00.766 + 1.334 26 14. Bjorn Wirdheim HVM, Inc. 1:00.863 + 1.431 28 15. Nelson Philippe Mi-Jack Conquest 1:00.915 + 1.483 28 16. Ronnie Bremer Dale Coyne 1:01.093 + 1.661 25 17. Ryan Hunter-Reay Rocketsports 1:01.342 + 1.910 29 18. Marcus Marshall Team Australia 1:02.064 + 2.632 22 
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