Portland: Friday qualifying notes

Maia scores Portland provisional pole. PORTLAND, OR (June 20, 2003)-Leonardo Maia of Oakland, California, took the provisional pole for Sunday's race with a best lap time of 1:14.158 seconds at Portland International Raceway in the first ...

Maia scores Portland provisional pole.

PORTLAND, OR (June 20, 2003)-Leonardo Maia of Oakland, California, took the provisional pole for Sunday's race with a best lap time of 1:14.158 seconds at Portland International Raceway in the first qualifying session for the Barber Dodge Pro Series round five. Memo Rojas of Mexico City, Mexico, secured second position on the provisional grid with a time of 1:14.448 seconds as round four winner Daniel Di Leo of Markham, Ontario, Canada, took third with a lap time of 1:14.499 seconds. The top eleven drivers qualified within one second of the pole time on the 1.969-mile circuit.

Colin Fleming of North Hills, California, ran fourth quickest in the session as round two winner David Martinez of Monterrey, Mexico, was fifth. Telmex sponsored Luis Pelayo of Mexico City, Mexico, scored sixth on the provisional grid, as Barber Champ Car Scholarship driver Scott Poirier of Deerfield Beach, Florida was seventh. Chris Green of Beaconsfield, Quebec, was eighth quick in the session, with Nelson Philippe of Valence, France, in ninth. Barber Champ Car Scholarship driver Burt Frisselle of Kihei, Hawaii, was quickest early in the session, but ended in tenth.

The forty minute session got underway with wet track conditions after a brief rain shower, and the Barber Dodge crew elected to keep the field on the dry-condition Michelin slick tires as the track was drying. The session was red flagged just five minutes into the session after Houston, Texas native Chris Baker made contact with the wall in turn one. Baker visited the medical center for observation after complaining of pain in his hand.

The session was restarted after a brief clean up, but not before Memo Rojas and Daniel Di Leo were given penalties after the Champ Car officials determined that the two had not responded to the red flag in a timely manner. The two championship contenders were forced to stay in pit lane for five minutes before being allowed to rejoin the pack. The track continued to dry, and the lap times tumbled with each lap until the final moments of the session as each competitor made the most of the available grip.

The provisional pole effort gives Maia one championship point, extending his lead over Memo Rojas in the championship standings to thirteen, and guarantees Maia a front-row starting position in Sunday's race. Like several of his competitors, Maia scored the lap on his last flying lap, just before the checked flag flew on the session.

"I was hoping that the track would dry out when the sun came out, but it didn't dry as quickly as I was expecting it to," said Maia. "I knew I just needed to be patient. I got some traffic with about ten minutes to go, but found clear track by the end of the session, and put three fast laps down right at the end, and fortunately it was good enough for pole."

Memo Rojas, who was third quick in the morning practice session, moved up one spot in qualifying to take second, but felt as though he could have done better had he not been hamstrung by the penalty.

"I think that the penalty hurt me a lot in this session, since it took some time to get the Michelins to the best temperature and I had less of a window to do that," said Rojas. "Having the longer than normal qualifying session helps out though, since you have more chances to take a break and come into the pits to make adjustments to the car to go faster."

Daniel Di Leo, who broke through to take his first win in Barber Dodge Pro Series competition in round four last weekend at Laguna Seca, also felt as though he could have been faster had it not been for the penalty.

"The penalty set me back a bit, and made the session more rushed, but its something you can't control," said Di Leo. "It was a drying track, and the plan was to save the car for the last five laps and we were able to do that, but I wish I could have had just one more lap around. But its early in the weekend, so there is nothing to panic about at this point."

Final qualifying will take place at 12:50 PST on Saturday, with the race scheduled to get underway at 10:00 am on Sunday. Full results and story to be posted at www.skipbarber.com.

The Barber Dodge Pro Series is the Official Entry Level Professional Series of Champ Car. The drivers utilize identically prepared single seat open wheel Reynard-Dodge racecars. Barber Dodge Pro Series provides a level playing field where driving talent, not financial resources, play the decisive role. This state-of-the-art platform, with its carbon composite construction, raised nose and 6-speed sequential gearbox, takes full advantage of the 265hp all aluminum Dodge V6 Intrepid motor that is exclusive to this series. Additionally, all of the Barber Dodges compete on identical Michelin Pilot racing slicks.

To ensure absolute equality for all competitors, the Barber Dodge Pro Series owns, maintains, prepares and transports all the cars and equipment. This serves to control costs while allowing the drivers to concentrate solely on developing their driving skills. The Barber Dodge Pro Series rewards those with dedication and skill with true financial incentive - an incredible $55,100 in prize money is available for each Barber Dodge Pro Series event with $13,000 going to the race winner. The overall Series Champion receives a $100,000 scholarship towards entry in the Toyota Atlantic Championship, and the series Rookie of the Year receives $185,000 in career enhancement funding. In total, the Barber Dodge Pro Series pays out over $1 million annually in prize money, contingencies and scholarships.

Skip Barber Racing School is the world's leading provider of automotive education and entertainment. With five base locations in Connecticut, Florida, California, and Wisconsin, Skip Barber operates at over twenty tracks nationwide. The Dodge Division of DaimlerChrysler, Michelin North America, and Quaker State are key strategic partners for the company. NASCAR Winston Cup Champion Jeff Gordon, Indianapolis 500 Champion and Champ Car Champion Juan Montoya, and legend Michael Andretti are but three graduates to have emerged from Skip Barber Racing's nearly thirty years of training and expertise.

-barber/cart-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Barber Pro
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Michael Andretti , Memo Rojas , Leonardo Maia , Chris Baker , Burt Frisselle , Scott Poirier , Colin Fleming , Skip Barber , David Martinez , Chris Green , Luis Pelayo , Nelson Philippe