Laguna Seca: Saturday qualifying notes

Fogarty Wins Monterey Pole; Leads by Five Entering Season Finale MONTEREY, California (September 11, 2004) -- American Jon Fogarty ( ...

Fogarty Wins Monterey Pole; Leads by Five Entering Season Finale

MONTEREY, California (September 11, 2004) -- American Jon Fogarty (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Umbrella Entertainment) has had some impressive performances while winning nine pole positions in his distinguished Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama career, but none was more important or timely than the pole he earned Saturday in final qualifying for Sunday's series finale -- the Argent Mortgage Toyota Atlantic Grand Prix of Monterey Presented by Yokohama (tape-delayed on SPEED Channel, Sunday, September 26 - 2 p.m. ET)

Fogarty, who resides in Portola Valley, California -- just down the road from the 2.238-mile Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca road circuit -- solved the problems his team encountered during Friday qualifying and posted the fastest lap of the weekend of 1:18.646 (102.444 mph) on his 19th turn on course in this afternoon's final qualifying session. The 29-year-old racer finished third Friday in first-round qualifying after fighting a setup problem most of the day.

Winning the pole gave Fogarty a vital championship point in this weekend's battle for the 2004 Atlantic crown, as he stretched his lead back to five points (295-290) over Scotland's Ryan Dalziel (#28 ProWorks). Fogarty, who won the series title in 2002, also will start from the front in Sunday's 30-lap race and history has proven that winning the pole offers a good chance at victory at Laguna Seca. In the last 12 Atlantic races run at the picturesque Northern California course, the winner has started from the pole position nine times.

Dalziel, the 2003 series runner up, wound up with the second-fastest qualifying time of 1:18.921 (102.087 mph) and will start on the front row, next to his championship challenger, on Sunday. Dalziel's fast lap was actually carded in Friday's first-round qualifying session. Ten of the 14 drivers in the field posted faster times on Saturday than in Friday qualifying. Both Dalziel, who sliced the title deficit to four after winning Friday's provisional pole, and his Sierra Sierra Enterprises teammate, Andrew Ranger (#27 Tide/Charmin/Mr. Clean/Snugabye), were two of the four that recorded their fast laps on Friday. Ranger will start third on Sunday after producing a top time of 1:19.020 (101.959 mph).

The 22-year-old Dalziel will somehow need to get by Fogarty in tomorrow's race and make up the five-point deficit if he hopes to avoid consecutive second-place series finishes. If Dalziel were able to win tomorrow's finale, he would need Fogarty to finish lower than second or earn two of the bonus points available in the race in order to avoid getting into a tie-breaker situation with the former series champ as Fogarty would win most tie-breaker scenarios.

Danica Patrick (#24 Argent Mortgage Company) also recorded her fast lap on Friday, but wound up with the fourth-fastest time of 1:19.177 (101.757 mph). Patrick, who sits third in the title chase but cannot win the title, will be looking for her 11th top-five finish this season in tomorrow's event.

Rookie Ronnie Bremer (#4 Healthcare Privileges.com/PaySystems), who's embroiled in a fierce fight with Ranger for top series freshman honors, will line up fifth on Sunday after posting a fast lap of 1:19.201 (101.726 mph). Bremer trails Ranger by nine points in the race for the $10,000 BG Products Rookie of the Year award.

Alex Figge (#69 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Umbrella Entertainment), who finished fifth at Laguna last season, will start from the sixth position tomorrow. Fogarty's Pacific Coast Motorsports teammate owned a best lap of 1:19.219 (101.703 mph) in this afternoon's session.

Qualifying seventh was Bryan Sellers (#19 Lynx Racing) who was clocked at 1:19.814 (100.945 mph). The 22-year-old Centerville, Ohio native has now qualified inside the top seven 10 times this season.

Rookie Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK ind./TMI/Redline Oil) finished ninth in the qualifying rundown after carding a time of 1:20.104 (100.579 mph) in Friday's first round session.

Another first-year pilot, Chris Festa (#25 SpacePak/CareCentric), qualified inside the top 10 for the 10th time this year as he posted a best lap of 1:20.264 (100.379 mph) in ninth position. Rounding out the top 10 qualifiers was rookie Adam Pecorari (#2 Penn Capital/Konica Minolta), who finished with a mark of 1:20.339 (100.285 mph).

The Atlantic cars will return to the track for a 15-minute warm-up session on Sunday morning, beginning at 8 a.m. PT. Tomorrow's championship shootout -- Round 12 of the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama -- will take the green flag at 10:30 a.m.

Quotes from the top three overall qualifiers follow:

JON FOGARTY (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Umbrella Entertainment) "(Pressing for the pole) was not really what I was thinking going into the session. I wanted the pole, but I was not going to freak out over it. I just drove the track. Yesterday was not a good session for us. The team was working on the car (last night). I was riding my back up to where my car was parked - they make us park in the boondocks here - and I passed Sierra Sierra and I saw Ryan (Dalziel) was still there. I said 'I can't leave now with Ryan still there.' I went back and worked with the team and we found something that seemed to work. I want to run a strong race. We will do what we have done all year long. I just want to have a clean race. (Regarding his big drop in his time at the end of the practice session) We made a change on the car that was positive. With the exception of going into Turn 2, it's a tough place to pass here. There's places to pass and you can take a risk if you have to. I've done a lot of laps around here. It's a cool place. It's a great part of the state; close to home (Portola Valley resident). I'm just glad they moved (the race) back to the fall."

RYAN DALZIEL (#28 ProWorks) "We said yesterday we weren't happy with the balance. We worked until the late hours last night trying to get the perfect setup. We made some radical changes this morning. They didn't work. We lose a point to Jon; we have to get that back. At the minute, (he and teammate Andrew Ranger) are lacking something. I don't think our car is quick enough to lead the race. These guys at Sierra Sierra have given me good cars all year and I have no doubt they will again tomorrow. I'm not going to do anything stupid and ruin the championship. I told Andrew I'd give him the $10,000 (the prize for rookie-of-the-year) if he took them both out (laughter). (Regarding Fogarty's dramatic drop in time on the last lap in the morning) We don't tune the car off the time sheets. When I actually came in the pits, Jon hadn't posted his time. Whoever does the better job from Friday through Sunday night deserves the championship."

ANDREW RANGER (#27 Tide/Charmin/Mr. Clean/Snugabye) leads RONNIE BREMER (#4 PaySystems) by nine points for rookie-of-the-year (232-223). "For me, (qualifying) was a little bit tough. But, I am happy with my third. This morning (in practice) I crashed. My crew did a good job (repairing the car). Every time I come into a fast corner, I am a little loose and I lose a little time there. (In the morning) I came a little fast into turn 6. I got in the gravel and lost it. I'm pretty happy for the team (qualifying third); they did a good job for me. I want Ryan to win the championship, but for me I want to win the rookie championship. If I can, I'll help Ryan - but I do want to win the rookie championship."

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Ryan Dalziel , Jon Fogarty , Alex Figge , Adam Pecorari , Ronnie Bremer , Bryan Sellers , Andrew Ranger , Chris Festa , Tonis Kasemets , Danica Patrick