LOCAL RACER JONATHAN BOMARITO SCORES PROVISIONAL CHAMP CAR ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP POLE FOR SAN JOSE GRAND PRIX AT REDBACK RACEWAY
SAN JOSE -- Hailing from nearby Monterey, Calif., Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda veteran Jonathan Bomarito (#23 Miracle Sealants/Konica Minolta/Dynacor) claimed the provisional pole position for Sunday's San Jose Grand Prix at Redback Raceway (ESPN360.com, Live, 3:30 p.m. ET).
In a session that saw the top 18 cars qualify within one second, Bomarito clocked a best lap at 56.018 seconds (92.734 mph) to take the provisional pole and guarantee himself a starting spot on the front row for Sunday's race. Bomarito will head into Saturday's final round of qualifying looking for his first career Atlantic pole position, but he has already secured his best starting spot of the season, topping previous best starts of third at Las Vegas, Long Beach and Toronto. It will also be Bomarito's best starting position since a second-place starting spot at Toronto last year.
Joining Bomarito on the provisional front row is French rookie standout Franck Perera (#11 CJ Motorsport) with a best lap at 56.056 seconds (92.672 mph). The Condor Motorsports pilot has started inside the top-three positions in seven of his 10 starts this season, and is looking to keep his championship hopes alive this weekend. He is riding a streak of six consecutive podium results, which includes his first two career Atlantic victories at Mont-Tremblant and Toronto.
Third on the provisional grid was points leader Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks) with a best lap at 56.095 seconds (92.607 mph). Matos' time was made more impressive by the fact that he sat out the final eight minutes of the session for taking more than one checkered flag in the morning warm-up last weekend in Edmonton. He also brushed the wall in Turn 5 on his final qualifying lap before coming onto pit lane to serve his penalty, but did not appear to significantly damage the car. The Brazilian is looking to clinch the Atlantic title one race early this weekend.
Matos led a Sierra Sierra Enterprises sweep of the second row on the provisional grid, as teammate James Hinchcliffe (#9 NOCO/ProWorks) was fourth-quickest in the session with a best lap at 56.179 seconds (92.469 mph). The Canadian has started from the front row in six of 10 races and has started inside the top-five spots in eight of 10 races. He is looking for his first Atlantic victory of the season this weekend.
Sixteen-year-old rookie John Edwards (#7 Red Bull/INDECK) completed the top five on the provisional grid with a lap at 56.258 seconds (92.339 mph). Edwards is riding a hot streak of late which began with a second-place race result in Toronto earlier this month. He has finished inside the top-eight positions in each of his last three starts and owns a total of six top-12 results in 10 starts.
Swiss driver Simona De Silvestro (#5 Miauton), one of two women in this weekend's Atlantic field, was sixth-quickest in qualifying with a lap at 56.262 seconds (92.332 mph), followed by Canadian Robert Wickens (#3 Red Bull/INDECK) at 56.306 seconds (92.260 mph). Wickens started from the pole for both races and won the second race of a Formula BMW USA doubleheader at Redback Raceway last year, while De Silvestro finished fourth in both races of the same doubleheader. Mexican driver David Garza (#4 Axtel/Tecate/Madisa/USRT) also competed in the Formula BMW USA events last year and was eighth on Friday's provisional Atlantic grid at 56.314 seconds (92.247 mph).
After leading the opening practice session earlier on Friday, Ryan Lewis (#15 NCPI Solutions/Insport) posted the ninth-quickest time in provisional qualifying at 56.483 seconds (91.971 mph). Ronnie Bremer (#10 Brooks Associates Racing) completed the top 10 with a lap at 56.557 seconds (91.851 mph). Bremer is returning to the Atlantic series for the first time since Round 6 at Cleveland and is driving for Brooks Associates Racing for the first time since the 2004 season.
* Participating in his first qualifying session of the 2007 Atlantic season, Steve Ott (#22 InterVision/NetApp/Juniper Networks) was 15th-quickest with a lap at 56.845 seconds (91.385 mph). Ott owns a career-best Atlantic result of third in the second race of a doubleheader at Cleveland last year.
* Brian Thienes (#19 Thienes Engineering) posted a best qualifying lap at 57.018 seconds (91.108 mph), which was exactly one second slower than Bomarito's provisional pole-winning time. In the morning practice session, the top-21 cars were within nine-tenths of a second.
* Natacha Gachnang (#45 Paladin Motorsports) made her Champ Car Atlantic Championship debut in Friday's provisional qualifying session and posted the 23rd-quickest time with a lap at 58.598 seconds (88.651 mph). Gachnang turned 30 laps in the session and was working her way up to speed, but she tangled with Junior Strous (#16 Shell/Best Box/HTP/Red, White & Bluezz USA) in Turn 7 with three minutes remaining in the session, bringing out the checkered flag early. Adrian Carrio (#17 Carrio Cabling Company) was also involved in the incident. None of the drivers were injured.
Quotes from the Top-Three Drivers in Provisional Qualifying for the San Jose Grand Prix Follow Below:
JONATHAN BOMARITO (#23 Miracle Sealants/Konica Minolta/Dynacor) of PR1 Motorsports: "It feels great. It'd kind of like when I finally got a win at the last race last year. This provisional pole has been a long time coming. I've got a lot of friends and family here, and hopefully we can repeat again tomorrow. It takes a little bit of pressure off. We'll be able to work on some setup stuff in tomorrow morning's practice for longer runs. The first qualifying is so important, because it guarantees you the front row. Tomorrow is going to be another good day. We have good car, and we just need to keep chipping away. It's really, really close. The top three were all on the same tenth of a second, so it's going to be every little hair that you can find with engineers overnight. That's going to be the difference for tomorrow."
FRANCK PERERA (#11 CJ Motorsport) of Condor Motorsports: "It was a quite difficult session. It's a really small track, it's incredible. This morning we had some setup problems. I had to find my driving style here with the setup and it's quite different. It was not really good this morning and with the traffic, it's really, really difficult. In qualifying, we improved so much. Now, we're able to fight for the pole position, for sure, tomorrow, and we were really close today. I had some problems with tires. I lost so much on my right front tire, and I couldn't really improve in the end. We have to keep our focus for tomorrow and get the pole, and then you never know what will happen in the race. The championship is not yet finished."
RAPHAEL MATOS (#6 ProWorks) of Sierra Sierra Enterprises: "I'm feeling very confident, especially after back-to-back wins in Edmonton. This place is a special place for me. I won last year from pole position here, and it was actually my first win in an Atlantic car. I feel very confident. I have a quite comfortable points lead, a 40-point lead, and we just need to make sure we start up front and we finish the race. That's what I'm trying to do."