Long Beach: Series Saturday qualifying report

Bomarito Takes Second Career Atlantic Championship Pole Position for Season-Opening Imperial Capital Bank Atlantic Challenge of Long Beach LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 19, 2008) -- While many of the names on the entry list changed places several...

Bomarito Takes Second Career Atlantic Championship Pole Position for Season-Opening Imperial Capital Bank Atlantic Challenge of Long Beach

LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 19, 2008) -- While many of the names on the entry list changed places several times during the on-track sessions prior to Sunday's Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda season-opener at Long Beach, Jonathan Bomarito has been a fixture atop the time charts.

Bomarito continued that trend in Saturday's final qualifying session and claimed the pole position for the Imperial Capital Bank Atlantic Challenge of Long Beach -- Round 1 of the 11-race 2008 Atlantic Championship season. Driving the No. 26 RLM Investments/Discount Tire Centers/Stone Brewing entry in final qualifying for the first time as a member of Mathiasen Motorsports, Bomarito posted a best lap at 1:15.947 (93.286 mph) to score his second career Atlantic pole position. His first career Atlantic pole came at San Jose in 2007, and the Monterey, Calif. native went on to win that race. He is looking for a repeat performance of that this weekend.

"I hope so," Bomarito said. "It's a long race tomorrow. We've got a morning warm-up, where we just kind of make some systems checks and make sure everything is good, and do some practice starts. In a 50-minute race, a lot can happen. We're constantly making progress with the car. I think we're a little bit stronger in the morning than we are in the afternoon, so racing at 10 or so tomorrow morning will ply into our hands. Qualifying was tough today. I was P1 and went down to P5 at one point. You're just constantly struggling. A lot of it depends on traffic and when you put on new tires. That was definitely an intense qualifying session."

Starting a career-best second in the No. 34 Nuclear Clean Air Energy machine for Newman Wachs Racing is the only woman in the field, Simona De Silvestro. The native of Switzerland turned in a best qualifying lap at 1:16.089 (93.112 mph) to easily better her previous best Atlantic qualifying result of sixth at Mont-Tremblant last year. De Silvestro is entering her second Atlantic Championship season.

"It has been a really tough weekend, especially yesterday," De Silvestro said. "We struggled a lot. In the off-season, we didn't get all the days we wanted to. We finally got it in qualifying and that's where it counts, so I'm pretty happy. I really want to thank Newman Wachs Racing for giving me this opportunity this year to race for them. I'm trying to give my best, and I think it shows today when I'm starting on the front row."

American driver Carl Skerlong qualified third aboard the No. 14 King Taco entry from Pacific Coast Motorsports. Skerlong turned in a best qualifying lap at 1:16.127 (93.066 mph) to equal his previous best Atlantic qualifying performance, which he achieved for the second race of a doubleheader at Edmonton last season. The second-year driver is in search of his first career Atlantic race victory.

"First of all, I've got to thank King Taco and Pacific Coast Motorsports for getting me here," Skerlong said. "It's been a weird off-season, as we all know, and I really owe it all to them for getting me out here. It's been a tough weekend. There have been a lot of different names at the top of the charts, and thankfully we were one of them when it counted. I definitely think we had the speed to put it up front. We had a little incident on the last lap with some blocking, but that's racing. Overall, I'm glad to be in the top three going into the race tomorrow."

Alan Sciuto made it three American drivers in the top-four starting spots with a lap at 1:16.240 (92.928 mph) in the No. 17 Deans Ultra Plug machine for Genoa Racing. Sciuto hails from nearby Orange, Calif. and is also looking for his first Atlantic victory this weekend. Canadian driver Kevin Lacroix completed the top five in the No. 25 Uni-Select/Deans Knight/Wasteco machine for Walker Racing. Lacroix's best lap was 1:16.270 (92.891 mph). The top-16 qualifiers were covered by less than one second.

The Imperial Capital Bank Atlantic Challenge of Long Beach will roll off from a standing start just after 10:35 a.m. PT on Sunday. Live Timing & Scoring data is available on the official web site of the Atlantic Championship, www.atlantic-championship.com.

-credit: atl

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Series Atlantic
Drivers Jonathan Bomarito , Kevin Lacroix , Alan Sciuto , Carl Skerlong