Patrick Fourth and Festa Eighth on First Day at Montreal MONTREAL - Changing weather conditions made for significantly different track conditions for the Rahal Letterman Racing Toyota Atlantic duo of Danica Patrick and Chris Festa on the first...
Patrick Fourth and Festa Eighth on First Day at Montreal
MONTREAL - Changing weather conditions made for significantly different track conditions for the Rahal Letterman Racing Toyota Atlantic duo of Danica Patrick and Chris Festa on the first day of practice and qualifying for the Molson Indy Montreal. Morning showers and slick conditions in practice gave way to hot and humid and dry conditions in the afternoon qualifying.
Patrick piloted the Argent Mortgage Toyota/Swift to fourth on the provisional grid with a fast lap of 102.734 mph. Patrick, currently third in the 2004 championship, found herself locked into a battle with her championship rivals Jon Fogarty and Ryan Dalziel and local favorite 17-year-old Andrew Ranger. Less than a second separates the top-five on the provisional Atlantic grid.
"The Argent car is pretty good, but there is still room for improvement," said Patrick. "We were chipping away at the beginning of the session but we sort of hit a plateau. Even though we were fourth, the session wasn't without problems. We were off on the gearing on the car and that dictated some handling issues. That is the biggest hurdle we have to clear. We are right behind the people we need to beat, so we have to make the changes that improve the car and be ready for a big day tomorrow."
Festa made significant progress in the afternoon session posting the eighth quickest lap at 101.279 mph. Festa, was third amongst the nine rookie drivers to take to the track for Atlantic qualifying at Montreal.
"The circuit is a little different than what I am typically used to," said Festa. "There are more chicanes and they are fairly quick and extremely tricky chicanes. It just takes getting used to the track to develop a comfort level with the course. From that stand point running here is the same as any other track. I will go back and sit down with my engineer and work on getting the car to be a little bit better in the transition in the corners. We will take our time and consider the options as we come up with a game plan to make the SpacePak car better for tomorrow.
The provisional pole position went to Ryan Dalziel, who with the bonus championship point moved into a tie for the championship lead with Jon Fogarty. Fogarty was third quick on the day three-tenths of a second behind Dalziel and a tenth of a second behind Quebec native Ranger.
Practice and qualifying for the third annual Molson Indy Montreal will resume on Saturday morning with final qualifying tomorrow afternoon. Round 11 of the 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship will be run Sunday morning at 11:00 am EST. The race can be seen via tape delay on SPEED on Saturday, September 4 at 2:00 pm EST.