Sperafico On provisional pole. (MONTEREY, Calif.) June 7, 2002 -2001 Barber Dodge Rookie of the Year Rafael Sperafico made the best of his Michelin tires, a clear track, and his burgeoning talents to card the fastest time in Friday's qualifying...
Sperafico On provisional pole.
(MONTEREY, Calif.) June 7, 2002 -2001 Barber Dodge Rookie of the Year Rafael Sperafico made the best of his Michelin tires, a clear track, and his burgeoning talents to card the fastest time in Friday's qualifying session with a lap of 1:27. 371 sec. at the legendary 2.238-mile Laguna Seca track. Championship points leader A.J. Allmendinger qualified second with Memo Rojas taking the third provisional spot on a track that provided significantly less grip in the late afternoon sun than had been available in the morning practice session. Sperafico earns one championship point for his efforts and is guaranteed a front row starting position for Sunday's race.
"I was just waiting for my tires to heat up earlier in the session," said Sperafico, who finished on the podium at Laguna Seca in 2001. "Traffic plays a big role in qualifying, and I was lucky to get a gap in traffic right as my tires were getting good. This is really important since I am 30 points behind Allmendinger, and I need to get every point possible."
Championship points leader Allmendinger tried to have a last-minute run at the pole, but came up just short, .034 of a second from Sperafico's best time.
"I got turn 6 wrong a couple of times which was keeping me getting the most out of my laps," the Hollister, CA native commented. "I pitted to make some changes to the car and when I came out, I had a clear track, and I got turn-6 right, so I was able to get a good lap in right before the checker came out."
Memo Rojas, driving the #15 Telmex machine, was the first to stake his claim for the pole, breaking into the 1:30, 1:29, and 1:28-second brackets before anyone else, and holding the top spot on the sheets until only 10 minutes remained in the session.
"We made changes to the car after the morning session and so the balance of the car was really good. We changed the car during the session, and we got even faster," said the Mexico City native who first ran in the Barber Dodge Pro Series in 1999. "I was pushing really hard and went off a bit in turn-6, and after that, my car had a big understeer for the rest of the session, so I couldn't go for another fast lap. Hopefully we can get that taken care of tonight, and challenge for the pole tomorrow. "
Oakland California's Christian Szymczak was fastest in the morning session, but was unable to stay on top in the afternoon, finishing fourth while Lime Rock Park podium finisher Marc Breuers rounded out the top-5. Series returnee Rhonda Trammel, who was fourth quick in the morning session, qualified sixth provisionally in her return to the Barber Dodge Pro Series. 2001 Formula Dodge National Champion Julio Campos qualified his Michelin sponsored Reynard Dodge seventh, with Davy Cook of Tallahassee, Fla. qualifying eighth. Tom Fogarty of nearby Portola Valley, Calif. backed up his strong performance in the morning session with the ninth quickest time in the afternoon and Leo Maia rounded out the Top-10 in his Quaker State-liveried machine.
The field of 24 will have another opportunity to take the second championship point during the second qualifying session on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Live timing is available at www.barberdodge.com.