Laguna Seca: Friday qualifying notes

Dalziel Leads Monterey Friday Qualifying; Closes to Within Four Points of Fogarty for Series Lead. MONTEREY, California (September 10, 2004) -- Every time that Ryan Dalziel ( ...

Dalziel Leads Monterey Friday Qualifying; Closes to Within Four Points of Fogarty for Series Lead.

MONTEREY, California (September 10, 2004) -- Every time that Ryan Dalziel (#28 ProWorks) has needed to produce a point in this season's tight championship fight for the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama crown, he's been able to deliver. The Scottish racer continued his ability to perform in the clutch on Friday, recording the fastest time in first-round qualifying and earning a vital point to close to within four markers of title rival Jon Fogarty (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Umbrella Entertainment) for the 2004 Atlantic championship.

"We had to have this point," said Dalziel. "If we were to have lost this point to Jon, I think (the championship battle) would be over. It's that simple."

After struggling in the morning practice session at the 2.238-mile Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca road circuit and working his way up the time sheets through the afternoon qualifying, Dalziel found his speed at exactly the right time, posting his fastest lap of 1:18.921 (102.087 mph) on his 12th and final lap to claim the provisional pole. In addition to earning the invaluable point in the title chase, the 22-year-old Lanarkshire, Scotland native also locked up a front-row starting spot for Sunday's 30-lap race -- the Argent Mortgage Toyota Atlantic Grand Prix of Monterey Presented by Yokohama (tape-delayed on SPEED Channel, Sunday, September 26 - 2 p.m. ET).

Dalziel's Sierra Sierra Enterprises teammate, Andrew Ranger (#27 Tide/Charmin/Mr. Clean/Snugabye), also came up big late in the 30-minute qualifying session, clocking in at 1:19.020 (101.959 mph) for the second-fastest time of the day. Dalziel and Ranger qualified 1-2 in Round 6 earlier this season in Cleveland and the Sierra Sierra duo will look to turn the trick again on Saturday in final qualifying.

Fogarty, who led the morning practice session, fought a setup problem on his car for much of qualifying but still managed to produce the third-fastest time at 1:19.053 (101.916 mph). The local Portola Valley, California native feels that the problem was corrected on his machine and is confident that he can reclaim the point from Dalziel in final qualifying.

After running among the top three for the majority of qualifying, Danica Patrick (#24 Argent Mortgage Company) wound up fourth in the running order with a top lap of 1:19.177 (101.757 mph). Alex Figge (#69 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Umbrella Entertainment) was also at the top of the scoring chart for most of both on-track sessions on Friday and he rounded out the top five qualifying times at 1:19.429 (101.434 mph).

Rookie Ronnie Bremer (#4 Healthcare Privileges.com/PaySystems) produced a fast lap of 1:19.523 (101.314 mph) for the sixth-fastest time, while fellow freshman Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK Ind./TMI/Redline Oil) was seventh on the scoring chart after carding a time of 1:20.104 (100.579 mph).

After coming up with the fourth-fastest time in the morning session, Bryan Sellers (#19 Lynx Racing) wound up eighth in first-round qualifying at 1:20.241 (100.408 mph). Rahal-Letterman Racing rookie Chris Festa (#25 SpacePak/CareCentric) was ninth in the order at 1:20.770 (99.750 mph) and despite an off-track excursion which brought a short halt to qualifying early in the session, first-year driver Adam Pecorari (#2 Penn Capital/Konica Minolta) closed out the top 10 with a lap of 1:22.105 (98.128 mph).

Saturday will see the Toyota Atlantic cars take to the track at 8:30 a.m. PT for a 30-minute practice session. The final round of qualifying will take the green flag at 12:15 p.m. Follow all of the action of the top open-wheel development series in North America at www.toyotaatlantic.com.

Quotes from the top three qualifiers from Friday follow:

RYAN DALZIEL (#28 ProWorks) "It was a huge result for our team today. Every point is important at this stage. The car was not real good this morning. The car is still not perfect. The track has changed a lot from what we knew before. We have some more changes to make. You always take a gamble to wait that long to go out (he, Ranger and Fogarty did not go out until the second half of the session). We made a couple of big changes in the session. I feel confident every track we come to. We've been on pace at every track this year. You've just got to stay focused. It's a snowball of confidence for the team ever since Long Beach (the season opener). (The reason he stayed in the pits to open the session) was mainly due to tire wear. We (he and Ranger) were pretty sure our cars were going to be at the top, but it's a gamble. I like to use pressure as a motivator. I'm happy that Sierra Sierra and the Kottke family brought me back another year. (Regarding the track changes) The temperature was a factor (it's warmer). Our car has evolved a lot since this race last year."

ANDREW RANGER (#27 Tide/Charmin/Mr. Clean/Snugabye) "I'm pretty happy. This is my first time at Laguna Seca. I had a good car. It is pretty easy to drive. At the beginning of the session, I was not happy with the car. I went in and we made a quick change. I'm pretty happy Sierra Sierra is 1-2. Ronnie Bremer (his competition for rookie-of-the-year) is a great driver. I really want to get the top rookie."

JON FOGARTY (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Umbrella Entertainment) "We had some technical issues that started to develop even before we pulled the car out of the tent. We still had them with 13 minutes to go. We couldn't come in and make adjustments. Unfortunately, I had to stay out. Limited running time was our downfall. Whatever issue was there was resolved. The car was pretty good. We will make a couple of small changes (for tomorrow). It's been a good year. Ryan and I have had a good season and about an equivalent amount of bad luck. I'm happy to be in this position."

-ccws-

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Series Atlantic
Drivers Jon Fogarty , Alex Figge , Adam Pecorari , Ronnie Bremer , Bryan Sellers , Andrew Ranger , Chris Festa , Tonis Kasemets