Tracy overcomes damaged nosecone


SURFERS PARADISE, Australia -- Canada's Paul Tracy overcame a damaged nosecone in practice to claim the pole position Saturday for the Lexmark Indy 300, breaking up a battle between teammates
Sebastien Bourdais and Bruno Junqueira.

Tracy hit a tire barrier on a chicane and slightly damaged his
nosecone with four minutes left in the opening 15-minute practice,
forcing an early end to the session.

When the 35-minute qualifying session started, Tracy's mechanics
were still working. He came out midway through the session and had
the fastest time -- 1 minute, 33.556 seconds over the 2.795-mile
temporary Surfers Paradise street course.

Tracy will start Sunday's 57-lap race next to Bourdais, who has
openly criticized the Canadian for his driving style.

Bourdais, who won Friday's opening qualifying session and
secured a spot on the front row, needs to finish Sunday's race with
seven points more than Junqueira to claim the 2004 Champ Car
drivers title.

"The car was good, it was a fantastic job by the team," said
Tracy, the 2003 champ. "We made a mistake and hit the wall, but we
came back. It should be an interesting race -- I know that Sebastien
may not be so anxious tomorrow."

Junqueira will start in the second row next to American rookie
A.J. Allmendinger, who switched to a backup car just before the
second qualifying session and posted the fourth-fastest time of the

Earlier, Newman/Haas teammates Junqueira and Bourdais jockeyed
for the lead during the second session before Tracy returned to the
track after his accident.

Mario Dominguez, the 2002 winner, qualified fifth, followed by
last year's winner, American Ryan Hunter Reay.

Earlier this week, Bourdais was critical of Tracy's driving

"He's not the guy I like most in the race, that's for sure,"
Bourdais said. "He's a very nice guy outside the car but when he
puts the helmet on it's a different kind of personality.

"He doesn't think what the consequences of his acts are when
you are going 280 kilometers an hour, it's a bit borderline, I

Last year, Bourdais won pole position but tangled with Tracy at
the first turn. Last month at Laguna Seca, in California, the
French driver also won pole but was hit by Tracy and had a flat
tire that forced him out of contention.

"It's always frustrating when you cannot defend yourself
because you have to think about Tracy going to go for the win no
matter what," Bourdais said. "It's not my vision for the sport."

Tracy, who won Surfers in 1995, is trying to become the first
driver to win the race twice.

Oriol Servia also switched to his backup car just before the
second qualifying session, but did not post a time and will start
at the back of the grid Sunday. Under Champ Car rules, Servia's
fourth-fastest time of Friday was wiped out when he switched cars.