Cleveland: Thursday summary

Dalziel Leads First Day of Cleveland Atlantic Qualifying CLEVELAND, Ohio. (July 1, 2004) -- It didn't take Ryan Dalziel ( ...

Dalziel Leads First Day of Cleveland Atlantic Qualifying

CLEVELAND, Ohio. (July 1, 2004) -- It didn't take Ryan Dalziel (#28 Pro-Works) long to get up to speed on the fast Burke Lakefront Airport course in Cleveland -- either time he hit the track on Thursday for this weekend's Argent Mortgage Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama.

The 22-year-old Scot saw his Sierra Sierra Enterprises machine roll off of the truck quickly as he paced the opening-day morning practice session at the 2.106-mile temporary road course constructed on the airport tarmac. It took him a while to turn a lap at speed in the late afternoon qualifying session, but once he found his rhythm there was no catching Dalziel.

An electrical problem forced Dalziel to spend more than half of the 30-minute opening round of qualifying in the pits, but he quickly found his speed and posted a top time of 1:07.093 (113.001 mph) on his ninth lap to secure a front-row starting spot for Saturday's race (tape-delayed on SPEED Channel, Sunday, July 11 -- 1 p.m. ET).

Dalziel, who won the opening round of the Toyota Atlantic season in Long Beach, has earned two pole positions this season and he'll be chasing a third in final qualifying on Friday. He locked up a front-row starting spot for Saturday's 32-lap event and the championship point earned for leading today's session gives Dalziel 112 points on the year. He now trails series point leader Jon Fogarty (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports) by 14 points in the standings, sitting in third place. Danica Patrick (#24 Argent Mortgage Company), who was seventh in today's qualifying, is second in the points, with 114 markers on the year.

Fogarty tried all day to match Dalziel's time, but fell just short. Entering this weekend in search of his fourth consecutive Atlantic win, Fogarty was second behind Dalziel in the morning practice and he wound up in the same position in the qualifying session, with a lap of 1:07.502 (112.317 mph). The 2002 series champion may have had a shot at his rival but a crash involving Philip Fayer (#3 PaySystems) brought the session to a premature end as the time needed to clean up the wreckage would have exceeded the time left in qualifying. Fayer was not injured in the accident.

Ronnie Bremer (#4 Healthcare Privileges.com/PaySystems) enjoyed a good qualifying in his first day in the car for Polestar Racing Group. Bremer, one of the top rookies in the series, moved over from Brooks Associates Racing earlier in the week to the Polestar team, based just down the road in Chardon, Ohio. In his first qualifying session for his new team, Bremer brought home the third-fastest time on the day at 1:07.531 (112.268 mph).

Finishing fourth in qualifying was Fogarty's teammate, Alex Figge (#69 Pacific Coast Motorsports) who carded a top lap of 1:07.585 (112.179 mph). Local racer Bryan Sellers (#19 Lynx Racing) of Centerville, Ohio, was fifth in qualifying with a time of 1:07.617 (112.126 mph).

After posting the fifth-fastest time in the morning practice, Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK Ind./TMI/Red Line Oil) of Brooks Associates Racing backed up the effort with a good qualifying result in sixth place with a time of 1:08.017 (111.466 mph). Patrick's time of 1:08.083 (111.358 mph) was good for seventh while rookie Andrew Ranger (#27 Tide/Charmin/Mr. Clean/Snugabye) was eighth overall with a lap of 1:08.095 (111.339 mph).

Another top series rookie, Jonathan Bomarito (#8 Dixien/Omnisource) owned a time of 1:08.401 (110.840 mph) in ninth place while Fayer rounded out the top 10 with a time of 1:09.272 (109.447 mph).

The Atlantic cars return to the track on Friday morning with a 9:15 a.m. ET practice session. Tomorrow's final qualifying will take the green flag at 1 p.m.

Saturday's Round 6 of the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama is set to begin at 2:30 p.m.

Quotes from the top three qualifiers from Thursday follow:

RYAN DALZIEL (#28 ProWorks) qualified on the provisional pole at 1:07.093 (113.001 mph). He's guaranteed a front-row starting spot regardless of what happens in the second qualifying session. "We had a difficult race weekend at Portland - our last run - so we came back here very determined. The car rolled off the truck very quick. We knew coming back we had some struggles here. I'm pretty excited about going back out tomorrow and see what we can do. (He sat in the pits through more than half the session.) We had an electrical problem. We changed a lot of things. I had to go out. I was lucky (to get a quick lap) because I got held up by traffic. These cars don't change much from track to track. You have an oval car and you have a road car (setup). There are two guys here next to me that are pretty good and I'm sure they're going to find some more speed. We're going to have to be on top of our game."

JON FOGARTY (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports) qualified second at 1:07.502 (112.317 mph). He has led every lap (140) in winning the last three races in a row, two from the pole. "The car's reasonably good. Obviously, it's not quite what Ryan has going on. We're not going to make a huge chunk of changes. I'm not shooting for consecutive wins. I just do the best I can each race. The competition has not been that far behind (the last three races). I just had three good races. The results we've had all year have led to this. It's not P1, but it's OK."

RONNIE BREMER (#4 Healthcare Privileges.com/PaySystems) qualified third at 1:07.531 (112.268 mph); switched teams to Polestar Racing Group this week after putting together a last-minute deal just in time to race. "It's not too bad (the last-minute change). I have to get used to the car. I flew in yesterday (from Denmark after arranging the financing). The deal got put together quite late. I had the pole until about 10 minutes left (in the session), so I think we can find some more speed. I need to pick up the pace about half a second. The seat (which is not the same one he had with his previous team) is not that bad, but you don't feel at home. It's a little different, but not a huge difference. (The mind set after scrambling to raise the funds to race) is a little bit tough. I just want to do my best out here. It is difficult having to go back and forth to Denmark. There's not guarantee for the next race, either."

-atlantic-

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Series Atlantic
Drivers Ryan Dalziel , Jon Fogarty , Alex Figge , Jonathan Bomarito , Ronnie Bremer , Bryan Sellers , Andrew Ranger , Philip Fayer , Danica Patrick