Sunday, August 31, 2003

Junqueira stays ahead of CART pack

The Associated Press

DENVER - With an assist from the weather, Bruno Junqueira earned his second consecutive pole Saturday for the CART Grand Prix of Denver.

Light rain dampened sections of the 1.65-mile street course for early qualifiers. Rain then intensified, wiping out the qualifying attempt of the next-to-last driver, Adrian Fernandez.

That meant Junqueira, who won the provisional pole and would have had the last qualifying attempt Saturday, didn't need to make a run, since none of the day's qualifiers bettered his track-record lap of 1 minute, 1.438 seconds (96.507 mph) set Friday.

Junqueira won last year's inaugural Grand Prix of Denver, leading wire to wire after winning the pole.

Oriol Servia had the quickest lap Saturday, 1:01.477 (96.446), and will start on the outside of the front row in today's 106-lap race.

Rookie Sebastien Bourdais was second-fastest Saturday at 1:01.547 (96.336) and will start on the inside of the second row, alongside Fernandez, who qualified on the basis of his Friday time, 1:01.583 (96.280).

It's Junqueira's second season and seventh career pole. In CART's 14 races this season, the winner has started no worse than fourth.

"I don't think I was really lucky, because the only guy who could beat me was Adrian, and Adrian and I were penalized by the rain," Junqueira said.

Paul Tracy, the season points leader who has won six races, was clocking the fastest lap of the week through six of nine turns before he spun out. He'll start ninth.

Today's race

Grand Prix of Denver.

Time/TV: 9:30 p.m. (tape)/Speed Channel.

Track: Streets of Denver (temporary road course, 1.65 miles, 9 turns).

Race limit: Two hours.

Points race: Paul Tracy has a 28-point lead over Bruno Junqueira in the overall standings.

Next race: Grand Prix Americas, Sept. 28

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