Archive for Sunday, August 24, 2003

Tagliani takes pole in native Montreal

August 24, 2003

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— A Canadian will start from the pole in today's Montreal Molson Indy, but it won't be series points leader Paul Tracy.

Montreal native Alex Tagliani leaped from fifth in provisional qualifying to the top spot in Saturday's time trials on the 13-turn, 2.709-mile Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, while the favored Tracy was a disappointing eighth.

Turning his fast lap with just over 19 minutes left in the 40-minute session, Tagliani was clocked in 1 minute, 19.665 seconds, a speed of 122.418 mph.

Bruno Junqueira, trailing Tracy by 20 points in the CART Champ Car Series standings, barely missed winning the point that goes with the pole, posting a lap just .006 seconds and .010 mph slower than Tagliani.

It's the first pole of the season and fourth of his career for Tagliani, driving for Paul Gentilozzi's first-year Johnson Controls team. He also started from the top spot earlier this season at Milwaukee after the lineup was set by practice times when qualifying was rained out.

"This is a very special pole for me," said Tagliani, who was given a standing ovation by the spectators as he was driven on a slow victory lap.

"I was glad Paul had confidence putting me in this car," said Tagliani, who lost his ride with the powerful Player's/Forsythe team to Tracy this season. "We're putting together a very good team and this is just another proof of that."

Tracy, who came up just short of the top qualifying position Friday, losing the provisional pole to Oriol Servia when Tracy had problems with traffic late in the session, tried a different strategy Saturday.

Tracy went out on the track as soon as the green flag waved for the start of the final session and quickly jumped to first place. But Junqueira followed him onto the track and, moments later, went faster. Tracy never got back on top.

It was a combination of traffic and braking problems that cost Tracy at shot at the pole.

"I couldn't get the car stopped that well," said Tracy, who has won six of the 12 races this season, including events in his native Toronto and Vancouver. "I was doing everything I could, but I got caught by traffic again at the end."

Tracy regained the series lead from Junqueira two weeks ago at Mid-Ohio with a victory, while the Brazilian driver finished 13th. But Junqueira overcame a 20-point lead by Tracy earlier this season, so he knows it can be done.

Tracy, who scored the maximum 23 points at Mid-Ohio, leading both qualifying sessions and winning the race while leading the most laps, said, "You can't have a perfect weekend every time. What I have to do (today) is finish, and I've got to finish ahead of Bruno."

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