NA-F2000: Watkins Glen Morioka race 2 qualifying

For more information: Linda Mansfield: lindamansfield@CompuServe.com Morioka Sets New Track Record; Must Finish 16th Or Better Sunday for Title WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., Aug. 23 - Zak Morioka set a new track...

For more information: Linda Mansfield: lindamansfield@CompuServe.com

Morioka Sets New Track Record; Must Finish 16th Or Better Sunday for Title

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., Aug. 23 - Zak Morioka set a new track record and earned one more point when he won the pole position Saturday evening for Sunday's U.S. Formula Ford 2000 race at Watkins Glen International. The second round of qualifying was delayed by rain.

Morioka's Kentucky Fried Chicken of Brazil/A.M.E. Sports Van Diemen Quicksilver Ford No. 27 toured the 2.45-mile, 11-turn road course in a time of 1:14.688 (118.09 mph). That beat Steve Knapp's mark of 1:14.868 (117.80 mph) set here last year.

Seth Taylor was second-fastest, while Matt Sielsky rounds out the top three qualifiers. Morioka had been eighth fastest in the first round of qualifying early Saturday morning.

Morioka now must finish at least 16th unofficially in Sunday morning's race to earn the national championship.

It was his second career U.S. FF2000 pole, and his second of the weekend.

"It means another point towards the championship," the 18-year-old Brazilian said. "The track was really nice at the end. I had a little bit of oversteer, so I pulled the sway bars back and made it go away."

Starting up front alway helps.

"It's much easier to start in the front row," he said. "If I can get a good start, maybe I can go away from the field. We just have to finish in the top 16. You have to finish to win, and you really have to finish to win the championship."

Morioka's strategy will depend on how the race and the car's handling pans out.

"The first 10 laps don't really count; you have to stay within striking distance, but in the first half of the race you just figure out the pace," he said. "It all depends on how the car is and how the race develops. We're just going to try our best and hopefully it will all work out."

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Series Other open wheel
Drivers Steve Knapp