Trulli fastest in USA Grand Prix qualifier

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Renault's Jarno Trulli forced Formula 1's 3 title contenders to take a back seat by seizing the top slot in first qualifying for Sunday's USA Grand Prix.

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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Renault's Jarno Trulli forced Formula One's three title contenders to take a back seat on Friday by seizing the top slot in first qualifying for Sunday's USA Grand Prix. The Italian clocked the fastest Formula One qualifying lap yet at Indianapolis' Brickyard to remind Michael Schumacher, Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen that Sunday's race won't be a private battle. Looking for pole Fastest in a morning test session, fastest in final practice before qualification and fastest in first qualifying itself, the Italian dominated Friday's racing at the Brickyard. His lap of one minute, 9.566 seconds on the 13-turn, 2.605-mile (4.19-kilometer) broke the record at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course - and made him a serious pole contender for Sunday's race. The Renault driver averaged a speed of 134.795 mph (216.885 kph). Trulli's best finish remains a second place at the 1999 European Grand Prix at Nurburgring. Despite four front-row grid positions, the 29-year-old is still waiting for the first pole of his seven-season Formula One career. Rains washout Rubens Barrichello, last year's winner at Indianapolis, was second quickest for Ferrari on an overcast afternoon that turned to rain. Australian Mark Webber was third for Jaguar ahead of Ralf Schumacher, returning after missing the Italian Grand Prix following a heavy crash in testing. Montoya, hoping to become the first man to win the Indy 500 and USA Grand Prix at the same track, needs to win on Sunday to take the championship to a final showdown at the Japanese GP in Suzuka. A heavy shower broke after the first 13 drivers had run, leaving the rest, including Canada's former champion Jacques Villeneuve, with no chance of a quick lap. Villeneuve, former CART champion and winner of the Indy 500 in 1995, was 16th in his BAR, almost nine seconds off Trulli's pace. Driver's standings Michael Schumacher holds a narrow lead in the driver's standings over Montoya and Raikkonen going into the next-to-last race of the season. The German was one of nine men to break his own track record of 1:10.790, that coming on his first attempt Friday. Montoya, three points behind Schumacher with one race remaining after Indianapolis, kept the pressure piled on his rivals with the fifth fastest time in his Williams on a slippery track. Ferrari's Schumacher was eighth and McLaren's Raikkonen, seven points off the lead, ninth with final qualifying to come on Saturday. (AP)

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