CHAMP CAR Tracy bests track record in Grand Prix qualifying
He became the third driver to reach 25 career poles.
DENVER (AP) -- Paul Tracy had no intention of putting his car out early in qualifying. He quickly changed his mind when he saw Sebastien Bourdais head out of pit row.
Wanting to go head-to-head with the defending champion and series leader, Tracy rushed his car out to the track and started running fast laps right away. By the time he was done, Tracy had set a track record, edging Bourdais by .109 seconds Saturday in the second round of Grand Prix of Denver qualifying.
"It wasn't really our plan. Obviously, I was in the car ready to go and when we saw Sebastien went, we just decided let's go out and go head-to-head, you know one-to-one, see if we can beat him," Tracy said. "Sebastien did a great lap this morning on fresh tires, so we knew that we needed to step it up and the time to do it was while he was on the track."
Tracy broke the track record in preliminary qualifying on Friday, making it around in 59.759 seconds to secure a spot on the front row. The 36-year-old Canadian earned a second point by winning his third pole of the season, finishing in 59.432 seconds (100.370 mph) to close the gap on Bourdais' series lead to 26 points.
Tracy became the third Champ Car driver to reach 25 career poles and will start on the front row with Bourdais in today's race.
"It's going to be fun watching these two guys go at it because they've been having a good battle all year," said Mario Dominguez, who qualified third. "I'm going to have the best seat in the house."
Officials tweaked the 1.657-mile course before last year's race, widening most of the turns and straightaways to create more room for passing and added excitement for the fans.
The result was 10 track records during qualifying, including three by Bourdais on the second day. The Frenchman capped the day with a run of 59.942 seconds, becoming the first driver to break the 1-minute barrier.
Six drivers went under a minute on Saturday, including three who eclipsed the record mark Tracy set on Friday.
Bourdais made it around his fifth qualifying lap in 59.541 seconds and Dominguez was .103 seconds behind him. A.J. Allmendinger joined the sub-minute crowd with a 59.938 seconds on his final qualifying lap to earn a spot on the second row with Dominguez, and Justin Wilson (59.962) Jimmy Vasser (59.995) also came in under 60 seconds.
"It's not easy to be fast on this track," Dominguez said. "You really have to be on the edge. The track is very slippery, but it's fun to drive on the edge like this."
Bourdais had it close to the edge during the morning practice session, turning a lap of 59.3 seconds. But the team decided to swap out tires and couldn't match the time once qualifying started.
"I'm kind of beating myself up because I think we could have got the pole going back out with the same set of tires. I guess a lesson was learned."