Portland: Race one qualifying notes

Fogarty Takes Pole for First of Two Toyota Atlantic Events in Portland PORTLAND, Ore. (June 18, 2004) - Despite having his share of mechanical challenges on the opening day of practice and qualifying for this weekend's Argent Mortgage Toyota ...

Fogarty Takes Pole for First of Two Toyota Atlantic Events in Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. (June 18, 2004) - Despite having his share of mechanical challenges on the opening day of practice and qualifying for this weekend's Argent Mortgage Toyota Atlantic Championship of Portland Presented by Yokohama, Jon Fogarty (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports) was able to get the most out of his car when it mattered most.

Fogarty, the 2002 Toyota Atlantic series champion, suffered through gearbox problems in the morning practice session at the 1.969-mile Portland International Raceway permanent road course, but he still wound up posting the fastest time in practice. The mechanical gremlin came in a different form during the afternoon qualifying, but the result was the same. Fogarty bent his left rear push rod early in the 30-minute qualifying session for the first of two Atlantic races held here this weekend, but not before he carded a time of 1:08.404 (103.626 mph) that would not be touched during the remainder of qualifying.

While Fogarty's crew rushed to repair the rod, it turned out they didn't need to hurry. Aided by a late red flag that limited the opportunities to top Fogarty's time, no driver was able to wrestle away the pole and Fogarty never had to leave the pit lane again after earning the pole on his sixth lap.

Fogarty's six career pole position enables him to start on the point for Round 4 of the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama (SPEED Channel, Saturday, June 26 - 2 p.m. ET), which will take the green flag on Saturday at 12:15 p.m. PT.

Danica Patrick (#24 Argent Mortgage Company), who entered the weekend second in the championship hunt, looked to have the second spot in qualifying secured before the late red flag that was caused by a Turn12 accident involving Chris Festa (#25 SpacePak/CareCentric) and series points leader Ronnie Bremer (#10 portacoolracing.com).

Less than two minutes remained in qualifying after the cleanup was complete from the accident, but it proved to be just enough time for first-year pilot Andrew Ranger (#27 Tide/Charmin/Mr. Clean/Snugabye). Ranger hustled around the course to beat the checkered flag on qualifying and wound up posting the second-fastest time of the session at 1:08.654 (103.248 mph). The second-place qualifying effort was a career-best for the young Canadian.

Patrick equaled her best-ever qualifying position in third following Ranger's late run. The Rahal-Letterman Racing driver owned a time of 1:08.686 (103.200 mph) and will start from the third spot for the second time this season (Monterrey, Mexico).

Rookie Jonathan Bomarito (#8 Dixien/Omnisource) had an impressive session, qualifying a career-best fourth for Transnet Racing with a top lap of 1:08.714 (103.158 mph). For the fourth consecutive time to start the season, Bryan Sellers (#19 Lynx Racing) qualified inside the top five as he was fifth on the day with a time of 1:08.877 (102.914 mph).

Alex Figge (#69 Pacific Coast Motorsports), who won in Monterrey, Mexico earlier this season, qualified sixth at 1:08.921 (102.848 mph) while defending Portland champion Ryan Dalziel (#28 Pro-Works) will start seventh tomorrow after posting a lap of 1:08.926 (102.841 mph).

After his late-session dustup, the rookie Bremer lost his fastest time in qualifying but still managed the eighth-best orbit of the course at 1:09.494 (102.000 mph). Alex Garcia (#9 Dixien/Omnisource) will start ninth with a top lap of 1:09.610 (101.830 mph) and Festa rounded out the top 10 after posting a time of 1:09.670 (101.743 mph).

Polestar Racing Group's Rocky Moran Jr. (Healthcare Privileges.com/PaySystems) will start 11th on the grid followed by rookies Josh Hunt (#15 Wright/Patton/Shakespeare/Atkinson Gore Group) and Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK Ind./TMI/Redline Oil). Philip Fayer (#3 PaySystems) qualified in 14th position, followed by Tony Loniewski (#15 Margay) and rookie Chris Dyson (#16 Thetford/Norcold), making his first Atlantic start this weekend rounds out the field in 16th position.

Qualifying for Race 2 this weekend will take place at 8 a.m. PT at PIR on Saturday and Round 5 of the championship - The Argent Mortgage Toyota Atlantic Championship of Portland Presented by Yokohama (SPEED Channel, Saturday, July 3 - 2 p.m. ET) will get under way Sunday at 10 a.m. PT.

Quotes from the top three qualifiers for Race #1, and points leader Ronnie Bremer:

JON FOGARTY (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports), who earned his sixth career pole and second of the year: Following his quick time early in the session, "We bent a left-rear push rod. It took some time to change. I could have gone back out again, but we decided not to and to save the set of tires. I knew it was important to get a quick time early."

Fogarty said he will start on the inside (the pole winner has the choice whether to start inside or outside of the front row) because, "The Festival chicane is just such a bottle neck. You never know what is going to happen."

Of his confidence level after the wire-to-wire win in the last race at Milwaukee, he said, "It's certainly high." Of the track, he said, "It's unique. You have some concrete strips in the corner. As it gets hot, it can get pretty slippery. The heat has a lot to do with (the slower times), combined with the motors (dropping the revs by 300). The straight-line speed is probably about the same. The track has changed and it's also a lot hotter."

ANDREW RANGER (#27 Tide/Charmin/Mr. Clean/Snugabye): "My engineers told me I was fourth and I had one more lap (left in the session). I pushed pretty hard. I'm pretty happy for that to start second.

DANICA PATRICK (#24 Argent Mortgage Company): "It was a real good qualifying session. My engineer made a good call putting on new tires. I'm probably just as happy starting third. Just being on the inside (right behind pole sitter Jon Fogarty) and Jon's an experienced guy. I thought (the track) seemed worse that session (than in the morning). The heat has something to do with it."

RONNIE BREMER (#10 portacoolracing.com), the points leader heading into Portland qualified eighth at 1:09.494 (102.000 mph): "We just made it in the last minutes to get the car ready after the first practice when I had a bit of bad luck out there (contact with #16 Chris Dyson) and now it just continues. The guy just in front of me (#25 Chris Festa) went out in the grass and there is nothing I could do. He spins in front of me and, yes, it's unlucky. It's getting worse."

-ccws-

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Ryan Dalziel , Jon Fogarty , Tony Loniewski , Rocky Moran Jr. , Alex Garcia , Alex Figge , Jonathan Bomarito , Ronnie Bremer , Bryan Sellers , Philip Fayer , Chris Festa , Tonis Kasemets , Josh Hunt , Chris Dyson , Danica Patrick