Just as Paul Tracy needed only one lap to shatter the lap record at Michigan last week, Juan Montoya completed a similar feat at Chicago on Saturday.

The Colombian picked up where he left off in final practice on Saturday morning by recording a time of 22.107 seconds in the howling single wastegate Toyota engined Target Lola, slashing a massive seven tenths of a second off Max Papis' qualifying record set last year.

Seeing that his time was not going to be beaten, Juan cruised into the pits to greet his jubilant crew. "To be on pole for the Target Grand Prix is great. You never know what's gonna happen but I think we've got a strong car for tomorrow," enthused Montoya. "I think it was a very good lap. I could've gone a bit faster," he added just to give his rivals something else to worry about.

Helio Castroneves looked set for pole after his run produced a best time of 22.133 seconds in the much improved Team Penske Reynard-Honda, the Brazilian being the second of an incredible 17 drivers who lapped below the old track record.

The star of qualifying however was Tony Kanaan, still bumped and bruised from his Detroit crash. Running with an improved Mercedes engine the Brazilian gave Mo Nunn his best ever grid position as a team owner and equalled Mercedes' best qualifying effort of the year.

"Last weekend wasn't so good but we knew we had a good car here," said Kanaan. "[The car] was pretty neutral. I think I have a pretty good racecar." Of the injuries suffered in Detroit Kanaan said he had few problems, "My arm's still shaky right now but when you go fast it feels fine."

Friday pace-setter Kenny Brack fell to fourth place, just over a tenth of a second behind Montoya while Cristiano Da Matta continued his good form with fifth place.

Da Matta will be the only driver to race the brand new single turbo wastegate Toyota engine, the Ganassi team choosing to run the more well developed unit that has served them this year.

Papis wound up in sixth place, pleased with his effort after a disastrous Friday practice session with Paul Tracy, unhappy with the rear wing set-up that all the CART teams have to use, sharing the third row with the Italian.

Alex Tagliani was another driver to recover well from a poor Friday showing to put the Player's Forsythe Reynard-Ford in eighth ahead of Jimmy Vasser and a very disappointed Gil De Ferran.

Several of the favoured drivers endured a fraught qualifying session and were unable to dial their cars in correctly for their two flying laps and with the controversial Mark 2 Handford wing in place for Sunday's race, passing cars on their way to the front will be almost impossible.

Dario Franchitti, (11th) Roberto Moreno, (13th) Michael Andretti, (15th) and Adrian Fernandez (19th) will all be trying their utmost to charge their way into the reckoning in what looks to be a very close Target Grand Prix of Chicago.



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