Wilson Takes Long Beach Pole

LONG BEACH, Calif. - Justin Wilson saved his best for last Saturday, recording the fastest lap of the weekend in the final minute of qualifying to earn the pole position for the 34th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Wilson lapped the 11-turn, 1.97-mile circuit in 1 minute, 6.902 seconds, 105.898 mph, surpassing Alex Tagliani to win his seventh career Champ Car pole.

"My car was working well, and I was on a really good lap early on," Wilson said. "We came into Turn 9 and the car spun in between (Turns) 9 and 10 and it was quite frustrating because I know I was up four‑tenths (of a second) on my previous lap, which was probably pretty good.

"I was expecting to be in the mid‑sixes at that point, but there was a car in the way and I had to back off. After that, I had overshot my tires and was sliding around a bit more. We had to push hard, and the team was telling me there was a lap time I had to beat, so I was just very pleased to sneak one in there in the last few seconds and get my car in the front row again."

It was the third consecutive pole at Long Beach for the McDonald's Racing Team car of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, with Sebastien Bourdais winning from pole in 2006 and 2007.

The top seven drivers today bettered last year's pole lap. Tagliani's fastest lap in the No. 15 CEC Wheels/Walker Racing car was .182 of a second behind Wilson's mark.

Rookie Franck Perera qualified third and will share the second row with Will Power. Paul Tracy, who will be making his 16th start at Long Beach, and rookie Franck Montagny will start in Row 3.

Graham Rahal, who started from the ninth starting position in an IndyCar Series event on the Streets of St. Petersburg on April 6, will start from the same position at Long Beach.

The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be televised at 5:30 p.m. (ET) (2:30 p.m. local) Sunday on ESPN2. The IMS Radio Network also will broadcast the race live, with coverage on XM IndyCar Series Racing Channel 145. The local IMS Radio Network affiliate for this event is KSPN 710 AM.

The nine drivers entered in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach who are competing full time in the IndyCar Series will earn IndyCar Series points at this event. Those drivers: Enrique Bernoldi, Bruno Junqueira, Mario Moraes, Franck Perera, Will Power, Graham Rahal, Oriol Servia, E.J. Viso, Justin Wilson.

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