According to Franck Perera, driver of Guthrie Racing's ...
According to Franck Perera, driver of Guthrie Racing's #55 car, he is something of a quick study when it comes to learning a new racetrack. Right, just like Michael Phelps is somewhat talented at swimming in Olympic events. There is a reason that the Frenchman is known as "The Mosquito", and it has to do with his speed, which even for a racecar driver is incredibly quick. So, in spite of what he says, Franck Perera very quickly learned what he needed to about qualifying his Indy Lights Dallara at Infineon Speedway, so quickly in fact, that he snatched an almost certain pole from Raphael Matos. Matos, who lead most of the session, was eclipsed by .002 of a second by Perera's final lap. Our guess is, he's not very happy about that!
According to Matos, "we expected to be on the pole, but it was a tough session. It was difficult to time traffic, so I got traffic on both of my new tire runs. So it was quite difficult, but at least the guy I'm battling in the championship [3rd place qualifier Richard Antinucci] is right behind me, so that's a good thing. We'll see. I think we have a consistent car for tomorrow. So we need to make sure we make the right adjustments for the race tomorrow".
Indeed, much of the difficulty came from yellow flags of the full course caution variety brought out by mishaps by drivers Mark Olson and Sean Guthrie. These reduced the amount of time available for all of the qualifiers, but in the end served to ensure that Perera got the pole and Matos had no time left to reclaim it. But, of course, the Frenchman believed he could have done better.
"It was a nice lap", said Franck in the post qualifying press conference. "I think this year I have been pretty good at the end of the session. It's nice to be back at a road course after having some trouble at Kentucky. It's a new track for me, so I'm learning every time I go out there, and I've been working well with the team. I'm surprised because even though we were fighting for the pole the whole session, we had a fuel pump problem on the last two laps. I couldn't believe that I would make it, but I pushed anyway. When they said I got pole, I couldn't believe it. I guess it's good, but now I'm disappointed because we could have been so much quicker".
There are of course 22 drivers who are delighted that he wasn't quicker, headed by Matos, who will start beside Perera on the first row of Saturday's race. Row two will feature current points leader Richard Antinucci alongside Perera's teammate Logan Gomez, driver of the #23 car. Row three has Nashville winner Ana Beatriz starting 5th and local favorite J.R. Hildebrand in 6th.
With only three races left in the 2008 season, fans can expect to see the drivers fighting for each and every point. And, with two of those races taking place within the next 48 hours, it promises to be an exciting and fast weekend for entire series.