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Tracy wins provisional pole

March 21, 2003 at 11:56 PM

MONTEREY, Mexico, March 21 (UPI) -- Coming off a win in the Champ Car Series season opener, Paul Tracy grabbed the provisional pole Friday for the Monterrey Grand Prix.

The 34-year-old Canadian went out early and turned in a top lap of 98.089 miles per hour on his third tour around the 2.104-mile road course.

"It just seemed I went out of the pits, I had two warmup laps, I did it on the first flying lap," Tracy said. "After that, I was never able to get another lap again. I think it went that way for everybody."

Tracy was among 12 drivers who bettered last year's qualifying mark by Adrian Fernandez.

"I think everybody is running the same cars, so everybody's got the car developed more from last year," said Tracy, who did not record his first win last season until June. "They're a little bit quicker than they were at the beginning of last year.

"Everybody was saying, `Oh, these cars, they're not going to be as fast as the old cars, blah, blah, blah.' Here we're a second quicker than we were last year."

While a second round of qualifying is set for Saturday, Tracy is guaranteed a spot on the front row and earned a point to increase his lead in the Champ Car standings to six points over local favorite Michel Jourdain Jr.

If he holds on to the top spot, Tracy will start from the pole for the first time since Michigan in 2000. It would be his first pole on a road course since Laguna Seca in 1994.

Spain's Oriol Servia had the second-fastest lap Friday at 97.895 mph, barely edging Canada's Patrick Carpentier, who twice ran onto the grass at Fundidora Park.

"We got lucky that we got a clear lap at the end," said Servia, whose best lap was his last. "There was only one, but it counted."

Brazil's Bruno Junqueira and Jourdain completed the top five.

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