(Lexington, OH, August 9, 2003) Toyota Atlantic Series points leader A.J. Allmendinger claimed his sixth pole of the season for RuSPORT Racing, as he bested a field of 17 cars at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. A.J. Allmendinger. Photo by...
(Lexington, OH, August 9, 2003) Toyota Atlantic Series points leader A.J. Allmendinger claimed his sixth pole of the season for RuSPORT Racing, as he bested a field of 17 cars at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
"Starting up front is a benefit that is definitely good," Allmendinger said of the effort. "We had so much track time here (testing) we were way ahead of everyone. "The two good laps I got in qualifying today, I mean the car was almost perfect."
Inclement weather beset the 13-turn, 2.25-mile track five minutes into Saturday's session. Some teams went straight to grooved rain tires while others opted to sit out the rain.
Allmendinger's run of 1:17.376 in semi-wet conditions was half a second faster than Ryan Dalziel who ran a 1:17.922 lap.
"The car was near the best it's been all weekend," Allmendinger said of his qualifying setup. "We tested her in the rain earlier this year so I learned the grooves to run."
One of seven rookies in the series, Allmendinger led all practice and both qualifying sessions in his Swift 014.a, claiming 2 additional points towards the drivers championship. His season total of 150 now places him 36 points ahead of Dalziel who qualified third for Sunday's race.
"I really looking forward to tomorrow rain or dry," Allmendinger said. "I think my chances in the race are pretty good because it's so hard to pass here, and we've been fastest in both types of weather now. Dalziel has been fast and my teammate Aaron is quick too. But anyone in the top 10 can win because the series is so competitive, that's what makes it fun."
With four successive poles and three straight wins, this series leading driver is certainly the man to beat this weekend and looks to be on his way to the series championship with just four races remaining. Former Atlantic rookie and current IRL driver Alex Barron was the last to accomplished the feat in 1997.
The 2003 Atlantic series has been all A.J.'s so far, with podium finishes in six of his last seven events including five victories during that span.
Don't expect Allmendinger to rest on his lead though, he is sticking right with the game plan.
"We don't know how to cruise at RuSPORT, so were not just going to sit back. We have a goal to win races and the championship, which come first and foremost. If you try to lay back and save a points lead, you could find yourself seventh or eighth in the championship. Those points can dissolve pretty quick."