Toronto: Saturday qualifying notes

Series Leader Fogarty Secures Final Pole in Toronto TORONTO, Ontario, Canada (July 10, 2004) -- Running up front in Toronto is nothing new to Toyota Atlantic Championship series point leader Jon Fogarty ( ...

Series Leader Fogarty Secures Final Pole in Toronto

TORONTO, Ontario, Canada (July 10, 2004) -- Running up front in Toronto is nothing new to Toyota Atlantic Championship series point leader Jon Fogarty (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports). The American driver started on the pole in his only other start here during his series championship season in 2002, and he completed the weekend qualifying sweep Saturday by claiming his seventh career pole position with a fast lap of 1:05.803 (96.014 mph).

Fogarty's machine has been the fastest Atlantic car on the track all weekend at the Molson Indy Toronto and he became the only driver to post a sub 1:06 lap and top the 96 miles-per-hour mark in final qualifying Saturday. Fogarty will start from the point in tomorrow's Argent Mortgage Toyota Atlantic Championship of Toronto Presented by Yokohama (tape-delayed on SPEED Channel, Saturday, July 17 -- 11 a.m. ET) and will be looking for his fourth win of the season to extend his lead in the series championship. With the point earned for leading provisional qualifying on Friday and today's point for the final pole, the 29-year-old California native now holds a 151-146 lead on Scotland's Ryan Dalziel (#28 ProWorks) in the pursuit for the season title.

The only thing that might slow down Fogarty this weekend is his back. He admitted after qualifying that he strained a nerve in his back and shoulder early in this afternoon's session and that it caused him considerable discomfort.

"I just came through Turn 1 and I kind of made a correction with the wheel real fast and I kind of pinched the nerve in my back or shoulder," said Fogarty. "It hurts."

While Fogarty doesn't think the pinched nerve will affect him in tomorrow's race, he'll also need to contend with fast pack behind him at the green flag. Coming off his best Atlantic finish of second last week in Cleveland, Bryan Sellers (#19 Lynx Racing) continued his recent roll by qualifying second with a top lap of 1:06.088 (95.600 mph) coming late in Saturday's 45-minute qualifying session. The effort equaled Sellers' top qualifying performance of second in Monterrey, Mexico in Round 2 of the championship this season.

Rookie Ronnie Bremer (#4 PaySystems) has also proven to be quick this weekend. The Copenhagen, Denmark native led final qualifying for a time before Fogarty had the last say. Bremer's top time of 1:06.210 (95.424 mph) puts him third on the starting grid, tying his best qualifying effort that he established last week in Cleveland.

Canadian favorite Andrew Ranger (#27 Tide/Charmin/Mr. Clean/Snugabye) of Quebec, gave his all in his effort to secure the top spot in front of his home country fans, but he fell just short and wound up fourth in qualifying with a time of 1:06.374 (95.188 mph).

Qualifying inside the top five for the fourth time this season was Danica Patrick (#24 Argent Mortgage Company). The Rahal-Letterman Racing pilot who entered the weekend third in the championship behind Fogarty and Dalziel, produced a mark of 1:06.430 (95.108 mph) in fifth position.

Dalziel's weekend struggles continued in final qualifying as he posted the sixth-fastest time of 1:06.537 (94.955 mph). The result translates to the second-worst start of the season for the 2003 series runner-up.

Qualifying seventh was Alex Figge (#69 Pacific Coast Motorsports) who carded a time of 1:06.735 (94.673 mph), while rookie Chris Festa (#25 SpacePak/CareCentric) was eighth in 1:07.067 (94.204 mph).

Starting ninth on Sunday will be rookie Jonathan Bomarito (#8 Dixien/Omnisource) of Transnet Racing, who owned a top time of 1:07.084 (94.180 mph) in qualifying while Montreal's Philip Fayer (#3 PaySystems) enjoyed his career-best qualifying performance in front of the Canadian fans in 10th position with a fast lap of 1:07.719 (93.297 mph).

Australia's Josh Hunt (#15 Wright/Patton/Shakespeare/Atkinson Gore Group) was 11th at 1:07.911 (93.034 mph) and Ontario native Eric Jensen (#2 Penn Capital/Konica Minolta) was 12th with a time of 1:09.475 (90.939 mph).

Sunday's race-day schedule calls for the Toyota engines to roar to life with a 15-minute warm-up session at 8:30 a.m. ET. Round 7 of the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama will take the green flag at 10:30 a.m. ET. The race is scheduled for 35 laps (61.425 miles) or 50 minutes. Follow all of the action of the top open-wheel development series in North America on the Internet at www.toyotaatlantic.com.

Quotes from Saturday's top three qualifiers follow:

JON FOGARTY (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports): (On making some changes from Friday's session) "We had a 45-minute session today and with the absence of a practice session this morning we wanted to get some more work done, so we made numerous little changes and collectively I think we were in the right direction. It worked out. We were really good on our colder tires when we started out, but unfortunately, something happened and I got a little pinched nerve in my back on about my third lap. It's pretty painful. It didn't really slow us down much and we were fortunate to kind of sit and wait it out and see what the track was doing. It's a great effort from the team. It's been a great weekend for us so far. Now we just need to keep it going. (On the start tomorrow) I'm looking forward to a good start. I'm happy to be surrounded by these guys (Sellers and Bremer). They're both real heads-up drivers, so it should be good. (On the pinched nerve in his back) I don't know what happened. I just came through Turn 1 and I kind of made a correction with the wheel real fast and I kind of pinched the nerve in my back or shoulder. It hurts. Once race time comes you kind of put it out of your mind and don't really think about it."

BRYAN SELLERS (#19 Lynx Racing): "I've got to give the crew a lot of credit. We sat down with the engineers for a long time yesterday and we came up with a pretty decent plan. We got good, clean laps on sticker tires at the end. We were lucky. Again, all the credit goes to (the crew). I had the engineer in my ear calling out the times to me, and I knew I had to give everything I had, because I knew it was my last shot at getting a good starting position. The adrenaline plays a big part in those last few minutes of qualifying."

RONNIE BREMER (#4 PaySystems): "We were still struggling a little bit on the tires from yesterday and we made some changes and we're in the right direction but we weren't quite happy with the old tires. We decided to put on the new tires a little bit earlier than the other drivers. We went out and did a good lap, we were on pole for awhile. We broke the drive shaft and didn't quite compete for the last six minutes, which looked like it was the most important six minutes. We have a little bit more work to do (for the race), but it's difficult when you don't run for the last six minutes. I'm a little disappointed that I didn't have the car to improve my team."

-atlantic-

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Ryan Dalziel , Jon Fogarty , Alex Figge , Eric Jensen , Jonathan Bomarito , Ronnie Bremer , Bryan Sellers , Andrew Ranger , Philip Fayer , Chris Festa , Josh Hunt