Cameron Takes First Career Atlantic Pole for Race ...
Cameron Takes First Career Atlantic Pole for Race #1 of Road America Doubleheader
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (August 8, 2008) - On his final lap in qualifying for Saturday's Race #1 of the Road Race Showcase doubleheader at Road America, rookie driver Dane Cameron scored his first career Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda pole position.
Driving the No. 19 MAZDASPEED/Finlay Motorsports/Lynx Racing machine for Genoa Racing, Cameron clocked a best lap at 1:59.190 (122.265 mph) and knocked fellow American Jonathan Bomarito off the pole position. The performance eclipsed a previous best qualifying run of second for Race #2 of the doubleheader at Edmonton two weeks ago for Cameron, and the 2007 Star Mazda champion has finished each of the last three races inside the top five. He is looking for his first Atlantic victory tomorrow.
"It was really great to get our first pole, especially after Edmonton, where we were really, really close and just kind of got pipped right at the end there," Cameron said. "It's really great for the team. The team's been working really, really hard and making some really big strides the last couple of races with our car. We've finally been able to lock ourselves consistently in the top five. The first couple of races were really tough for us, but I think we have a good handle on it now. Jonathan made things pretty difficult for us in that session. He's been pretty fast the whole time.
"We were trading back and forth. In probably the last three laps, the first two I made a couple of mistakes, but we were still trading back and forth and I knew there was a little bit more left in it. I was actually a bit surprised at how fast the last lap was, but it was a really good lap. I finally cleaned everything up and didn't make any mistakes. Hopefully, the thing's pretty consistent, so we should be good for the whole race, but these two guys are going to make it pretty tough for me."
As he also did for Race #1 of the Edmonton doubleheader last month-which he went on to win-Bomarito will start second for Race #1 at Road America tomorrow thanks to a best qualifying lap at 1:59.576 (121.871 mph) in the No. 26 Del Taco/Stone Brewing/Discount Tire/RLM Investments entry for Mathiasen Motorsports. Bomarito heads into Saturday's race having finished inside the top six in four of the season's five races, and he earned his first career Atlantic victory at Road America two years ago.
"It was a great session," Bomarito said. "Dane's last lap was amazing. We were pretty much the whole session four-hundredths (of a second) this way, a tenth this way, just trading the whole time. I think the last two laps I was on top and then his last lap just blistered a good one in there. He's got, probably, three-tenths on us. I guess we'll see tomorrow if he can do that every lap or not. It's good. Me and Dane have been pretty much the two cars to beat all weekend and we've been pushing each other along. It's been cool. Hats off to him. It was a great pole, and we're going to have a great race tomorrow."
Points leader James Hinchcliffe will start third in the No. 3 Indeck/Tire Rack/NOCO machine for Forsythe/Pettit Racing with a best qualifying lap at 1:59.871 (121.571 mph). It is the Canadian's fifth top-five starting spot of the year and he has finished all five races this far inside the top-10. He heads into Saturday's race looking for his second victory of the season.
"I've got to be honest, we're not overly confident at this point," Hinchcliffe said. "That was a really, really tough session for us. The car was not quite what we needed it to be. I think with one lap to go, we were sixth or seventh or maybe even worse. I just decided that I was going to turn off my dash, stop looking at my splits and just kind of go for broke. I drove a lap that took about as much mental energy as the entire race in Edmonton and came across the line thinking to myself ‘Do a good job! Do a good job!' I hit the dash and it was, like, half a second quicker so it was a good job. We kind of pulled it out of the bag, but these two guys (Cameron and Bomarito) are kind of in a league of their own right now. We definitely have some work to do, but I'm confident the Forsythe/Pettit guys will be able to give us something that we can hopefully race to the front tomorrow."
Simona De Silvestro joins Hinchcliffe on Row 2 in the No. 34 Nuclear Clean Air Energy/NEI/Entergy machine for Newman Wachs Racing. De Silvestro turned a best lap at 1:59.889 (121.552 mph) to secure her best starting spot since she qualified second for the season-opening race at Long Beach, which she won.
De Silvestro's Newman Wachs teammate, Jonathan Summerton, completed the top five with a lap at 1:59.907 (121.534 mph) in the No. 36 Newman Wachs Racing entry. The American goes into Saturday's race carrying the momentum of his first career victory in Atlantic competition, which he scored in Race #2 of the Edmonton doubleheader two weeks ago.
* Finnish rookie Markus Niemela qualified sixth in the No. 8 Mr. Jones Bar & Kitchen/Rauma Town/Turku Karting machine for Brooks Associates Racing at 1:59.984 (121.456 mph). The top-six qualifiers were covered by less than one second.
* Atlantic veteran Tonis Kasemets was a late addition to the Road Race Showcase entry list, but it didn't take long for him to work the No. 17 TKM entry up to speed. The Estonian qualified eighth with a lap at 2:00.270 (121.167 mph).
* American Carl Skerlong qualified outside the top-four spots for the first time all season in the No. 14 King Taco entry from Pacific Coast Motorsports. Skerlong will start ninth with a best lap at 2:00.486 (120.950 mph).
* Mexican driver David Martinez, who is filling in for the injured David Garza in the No. 7 Axtel/Tecate/Madisa entry for Forsythe/Pettit Racing, will start 11th in Saturday's race following a best qualifying lap at 2:00.533 (120.903 mph). Martinez was fourth quickest in practice on Friday morning.