Road America: Friday qualifying notes

Dalziel Sets Atlantic Road America Qualifying Record ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin (August 6, 2004) -- It's been an up and down week for Scottish racer Ryan Dalziel ( ...

Dalziel Sets Atlantic Road America Qualifying Record

ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin (August 6, 2004) -- It's been an up and down week for Scottish racer Ryan Dalziel (#28 ProWorks) at the Road America road course but he definitely ended Friday on an up note.

The 22-year-old Sierra Sierra Enterprises driver recorded a top lap of 1:59.743 (121.701 mph) in afternoon qualifying to secure a front-row starting spot for Sunday's Argent Mortgage Toyota Atlantic Championship of Road America Presented by Yokohama (tape-delayed on SPEED Channel, Sunday, August 8 -- 1 p.m. ET), Round 9 of 12 on the Atlantic calendar. By securing the provisional pole, Dalziel also earned a championship point and now trails series leader Jon Fogarty (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Umbrella Entertainment) by just 12 points in the season standings. Dalziel's quick lap was the only time in qualifying to dip below the two-minute mark and it established a new Atlantic track record at the 4.048-mile Road America circuit.

Fogarty, the 2002 series champion, held the previous track record of 2:01.110 (119.145 mph) when he won the pole position for the '02 Atlantic race. Despite leading the morning practice session with a time that was also below the two-minute mark, Fogarty fell just short of Dalziel's time in qualifying, finishing with the second-fastest lap of 2:00.247 (121.191 mph).

Dalziel's record-setting effort was even more impressive considering that he was running in his backup car. On Wednesday, during Atlantic testing at Road America, Dalziel experienced a brake failure and crashed his machine hard into the tire barrier at the famed "Canada Corner" turn. The car was damaged so badly that the team had to sit out the remainder of the test and was forced to go to Plan B this weekend.

"Thank God for the tires," said Dalziel. "If it weren't for the tires I would've been in trouble."

With perfect weather conditions and some good rubber on the track, times were very quick for the Atlantic cars on Friday. Including Dalziel's impressive time, the top six drivers in qualifying eclipsed Fogarty's old track record, established the last time that the Toyota Atlantic series competed at the legendary Wisconsin road course.

Canadian rookie and Dalziel's Sierra Sierra teammate Andrew Ranger (#27 Tide/Charmin/Mr. Clean/Snugabye) carded the third-fastest time of qualifying at 2:00.830 (120.606 mph).

Alex Figge (#69 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Umbrella Entertainment) enjoyed one of his top qualifying efforts of the season with a lap of 2:00.876 (120.560 mph) to finish with the fourth-fastest time.

Beloit, Wisconsin's Danica Patrick (#24 Argent Mortgage Company) rounded out the top five after posting a fast time of 2:00.970 (120.466 mph). Rookie Ronnie Bremer (#4 Healthcare Privileges.com/PaySystems) was the final driver to top the old track record with a time of 2:01.042 (120.395 mph).

After recording the third-fastest mark in the morning practice, Bryan Sellers (#19 Lynx Racing) fell to seventh in qualifying at 2:01.469 (119.971 mph) while first-year pilot Josh Hunt (#15 Wright/Patton/Shakespeare/Atkinson Gore Group) was eighth in the qualifying rundown at 2:02.243 (119.212 mph).

Two more of the talented rookies in the series completed the top 10 as Chris Festa (#25 SpacePak/CareCentric) was ninth at 2:03.042 (118.848 mph) and Al Unser (#10 200 + Marketing and Management/Masterplan Group International), running in his first Atlantic event since the season-opener at Long Beach, owned a top lap of 2:03.459 (118.038 mph).

Saturday will see the Toyota Atlantic cars return to the track for a 30-minute practice session beginning at 9:15 a.m. CT. Tomorrow's final round of qualifying will begin at 3 p.m. Follow all of the action of the top open-wheel development series in North America at www.toyotaatlantic.com.

The Vancouver Molson Indy Toyota Atlantic race, won two weeks ago by Dalziel, will be broadcast on SPEED Channel on Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

Quotes from the top three qualifiers from Friday follow:

RYAN DALZIEL (#28 ProWorks) "We had a brake problem in the second session which resulted in the destruction of a car. It put us a little behind Jon to start (the race weekend). Fortunately, we have a second driver who is quick (enabling him to share data). (Sierra Sierra) did a good job putting this car together. It is important to be up front to start, but more important to gain points on Jon. (Dalziel went out late to start the qualifying session.) It was purely for tire reasons. It's a long, abrasive track and with two sets of tires for the weekend, you have to be conservative."

JON FOGARTY (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Umbrella Entertainment) "This afternoon, (track) conditions changed following the Champ Cars. There was a lot more grip. Sometimes, like in the carousel, too much grip. It was almost like running on glue. I had a fast lap going, but, like a lot of drivers, I ran out of fuel. You have to try to cut it close on fuel (to keep the weight down). There are a lot of places to make mistakes (on the track). I think the times of the top three are about half a second apart (actually a second), which shows that just a small mistake can make a difference. It's tough to put a lap together."

ANDREW RANGER (#27 Tide/Charmin/Mr. Clean/Snugabye) "It is a very fast track. Every corner runs pretty fast. I had a great car, but I think I have a problem with the front of the car. Every time I pushed (drove harder), the car started to push. I'm pretty confident for (the race) Sunday. I think it's a great track. (Ryan Dalziel, his teammate) gives me help at all the tracks - he and (driver coach) David Empringham. They helped me a lot here."

-ccws-

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Ryan Dalziel , Jon Fogarty , David Empringham , Alex Figge , Ronnie Bremer , Andrew Ranger , Chris Festa , Josh Hunt , Danica Patrick , Al Unser
Teams HART