Bourdais: 'This track owes us a win'
MONTERREY, Mexico -- France's Sebastien Bourdais captured the provisional pole for the Monterrey Grand Prix on Friday, turning a fast lap of 1 minute, 15.978 seconds.
Bourdais reached a speed of 99.692 mph on the tight, winding, 2.1-mile road course at Fundidora Park.
Bourdais won the Monterrey pole last year as a rookie, setting a track record for qualifying with a top speed of 101.076 mph. He led the first 16 laps of last year's race, but a radio malfunction caused him to miss a chance to pit and allowed eventual winner Paul Tracy to overtake him on the 17th lap.
"This track owes us a win," said Bourdais, who drives for Newman Haas Racing. "If you really are aggressive but stay between the white lines, you really can do something great."
Tracy, who won the season-opener last month in Long Beach, Calif., made contact with Patrick Carpentier and the small crash sent the defending Monterrey champion's Ford-powered Lola into the grass and red-flagged qualifying. Tracy did not make another appearance on the track.
Two other red flags slowed the action Friday. Mexican driver Roberto Lavin spun into the grass infield, and Mario Haberfield collided with a wall of tires ringing the track.
Bruno Junqueira, who won the pole in Long Beach, finished second in provisional qualifying for the season's second race, posting a time of 1:16.881 and a speed of 98.521 mph. The Brazilian finished just off the lead despite spinning off the track on a curve and steering through the grass.
"The track is very slippery," he said before qualifying. "It's very challenging and easy to make mistake."
Rookie Justin Wilson was third in 1:16.881.
Canadian-born Alex Tagliani finished fourth and Mario Dominguez, a fan-favorite from Mexico City, finished fifth during the one-hour, three-tiered qualifying session on the narrow, slick track that offers a view of the haze-shrouded, dragon-backed mountains that flank Monterrey.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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