Testing wraps up at Firebird

Dalziel Unofficially Quickest CHANDLER, Ariz. (March 10, 2004) - After two full days of testing at Firebird International Raceway, the teams and drivers of the 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama now set their sights on ...

Dalziel Unofficially Quickest

CHANDLER, Ariz. (March 10, 2004) - After two full days of testing at Firebird International Raceway, the teams and drivers of the 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama now set their sights on the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which opens the season on the weekend of April 18.

It was a scorcher for the second consecutive day at Firebird, with a midday ambient temperature of 93 degrees Fahrenheit and a track temperature of 108 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Yokohama Tire Engineers. However, the temperatures were slightly cooler than yesterday, and with additional rubber on the track, all of the drivers were able to find a bit more speed today. Ryan Dalziel, who posted the second-fastest lap in Tuesday's first test day, ended the session with a best time of 51.8 seconds unofficially, to top the list.

Dalziel's Sierra Sierra Enterprises teammate, rookie Andrew Ranger, was second quickest at 52.2 sec., followed by Lynx Racing pilot Bryan Sellers at 52.5 sec. according to team stopwatches. Danica Patrick reported the fourth quickest time at 52.6 sec., followed by Brooks Associates Racing rookie Ronnie Bremer at 52.8 sec., and the Pacific Coast Motorsports duo of Jon Fogarty and Alex Figge, who both clocked best laps at 52.9 sec. Alex Garcia and rookie Chris Festa each reported best times at 53.3 sec. As is always the case in preseason testing, all times are unofficial.

While most of the teams will turn a few more testing miles before Long Beach, today's session marks the final time they will be together as a group before the season gets underway. Quotes from several drivers follow below:

RYAN DALZIEL: "It went really well. I'm glad to be back for another year. We've been working on some stuff for the past couple of days, so we pretty much had a goal to go out and put a time down this morning while the track was good and we put down a pretty good lap. We spent the rest of the day, from like 10 o'clock onwards, just trying some development work. We learned a fair amount of stuff, so we're pretty confident going into Long Beach that we're going to have a good car this year."

CHRIS FESTA: "We made a lot of good adjustments over the last two days. We started off with a baseline package and made some improvements. We made some changes that went backwards a little bit, but that's going to happen. For me as a driver, it was just a really good two days to see how I measure up compared to the other drivers, and just to really work on the driving aspect as well as tuning the car."

BRYAN SELLERS: "I think so far, so good. The team has really started to come together. I think we're actually a little behind a lot of the head teams right now, being as they've all worked together for at least a season it would seem. In some cases, maybe more. Today we made some pretty big progression with the car, and so far, so good."

RONNIE BREMER: "For me, it's okay. We had the whole day yesterday to sort out things and get used to the car and the circuit. The car's a little bit smaller inside than what I'm used to, so you sit a little bit different. The rpm limit is 10,000 and I'm used to 7,000, so it sounds totally different. In the beginning, I'd go through the corner with too low revs, because normally you don't see the light, you just go by the ears and what the sound is. But we worked that out and I think we did a pretty good time yesterday, and today a pretty good time as well. I didn't really get the last run on new tires like I wanted to, and I feel we can go at least a couple tenths (of a second). But all in all, it went better than I expected, and I think it was better than the team expected so I'm quite happy. I have good people around me, so I think it's good. If I can find the money, I'll definitely be in the series this year, but time is getting closer. I hope I can get the money and get started. The others are already testing, and testing more days than I am. This is the first year for me as a rookie, so I really need to test more than they do. I need to bring up the speed. But for me, I think it's okay. If I can get the money, I'm sure I can get up to the pace before the first race. I'm pretty positive about it."

DANICA PATRICK: "I think this serves as a good refresher for everyone, mainly just simple things of driving and tuning a race car. It's been a while. We've had the longest off-season I can think of, and things are rusty, so you're just kind of getting back in the groove of things. This is a tricky track, conditions are always changing, and for no apparent reason sometimes you're off and sometimes you're on. It gets really hot here, you have inconsistency in tires, and we're finding out about engine things and what kind of distances they can run, which is important for the season. I think, mainly, it's just a good refresher for the team working as one again. We all know what we're doing, we just need to get back into a rhythm. I feel good that I'm back in the car, and everything's more fresh in my mind, and that's important. It's a matter of weeks before the first race. with another day here, and more, we'll be ready."

ALEX GARCIA: "We feel pretty strong about it. We had couple good days at Buttonwillow, came out here and just built on that. We went backwards a little bit today and ended up pretty good. We're happy with a 53.3 (second lap) on pretty used up tires, so I think we're not that far from the top guys. We're right there in the group, so we're pretty pleased."

JON FOGARTY: "We actually learned quite a bit today, and didn't struggle with a lot of the problems we had yesterday, which I'm really happy about. We've definitely gone forward in that regard. At the end of the day, it was the best car we've had, so it's going to carry over well again into the next test.(Teammate) Alex (Figge) had a little problem, and we didn't get as many miles as we would have liked, but we do have a few more days."

ALEX FIGGE: "I think we got some work done both mornings. Unfortunately, (engineer) Burke (Harrison) and I got hit with some bad luck in the afternoons. Yesterday, we were chasing some brake problems and stuff like that, and it took a while to get to the bottom of it, and today we blew the motor right after lunch. The guys got it back together as fast as they could, but we just weren't left with enough time to end up where we wanted on the balance. But we learned a lot, and we're not racing here, and I think what we learned is going to transfer over and it'll be good."

-atlantic-

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Ryan Dalziel , Jon Fogarty , Alex Garcia , Alex Figge , Ronnie Bremer , Andrew Ranger , Chris Festa , Danica Patrick