Bourdais takes huge lead and the pole into Sunday's race



He's won five poles and five races and leads the points standings by 57.
MONTREAL (AP) -- Coming off what he considers the best drive of his career, Sebastien Bourdais is oozing confidence and seemingly doing everything right.
The young Frenchman added to his already huge lead in the Champ Car World Series on Friday, grabbing the single point for taking the provisional pole for the Montreal Molson Indy -- and he did it with ease.
"I don't think we really have any weaknesses right now," Bourdais said after driving his Newman/Haas Racing Lola to a lap of 1 minute, 21.695 seconds -- a speed of 119.376 mph -- on the 2.709-mile Circuit Gilles Villeneuve track.
"I'm just having a very pleasant time right now," he added. "I'm not going to complain about anything."
Won five of nine events
Bourdais has won five poles and five races in the first nine events this season, building his margin over teammate Bruno Junqueira to 57 points with Friday's performance. The provisional pole also guaranteed Bourdais his eighth front-row start of the season, no matter what happens in the final qualifying on Saturday.
Two weeks ago in Denver, the teammates bumped at the start of the race, sending pole-winner Bourdais spinning and dropping him to 13th place.
Leading the standings, the 26-year-old racer could have just driven around the rest of the day and settled for something in the top 10. Instead, he drove as if his season depended on it, passing car after car and, finally, passing defending series champion Paul Tracy for the lead with 10 laps remaining.
"I really wanted to show that we had the best car out there," Bourdais explained, grinning shyly. "I could have settled for third place, but it was an ego thing. It was the most satisfying race of my life."
With only five races remaining, Bourdais could afford to take a conservative approach, but he isn't ready to race for points instead of wins.
"We're already being conservative on setups and not trying crazy things, but I don't want to be too conservative," he said. "It's too easy to lose concentration."
Tagliani currently second
Alex Tagliani, who led 52 of the first 57 laps here last year before a failed fuel strategy knocked him out of contention, was a strong second on Friday at 1:21.791 (119.236), followed by Mario Dominguez at 1:22.056 (118.851).
The session ended about five minutes early after Dominguez slammed hard into a tire wall. The ensuing red flag cost him his fast lap of 1:21.902 (119.074), but his second-fastest lap was still good enough to retain third.
"It's unfortunate I crashed at the end," Dominguez said.
"I was pushing the envelope too hard. But the car was not damaged too bad and I'm pretty happy with what we've got."
Junqueira was fourth at 1:22.169 (118.687), while Tracy, who is a distant third in the season points and needs a big race on Sunday to get back into the title hunt, also bounced off the wall late in the session and wound up seventh at 1:22.613 (118.049).
No matter what anybody does, though, it may be too late to catch the confident and high-flying Bourdais.
"All we really need is a top five every race and that will be plenty good enough," he said. "But, if we get a win, great."
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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