Bell Earns Barber Dodge Pole at Portland International Raceway
PORTLAND, Oregon (June 18) - Like a poker player, Townsend Bell saved his best hand for the end of qualifying. And he was lucky to get it his lap in when he did.
Bell of Costa Mesa, Calif. broke a string of three straight pole positions by Rocky Moran Jr. and topped the time sheets with a lap of 1:14.093/95.572 mph in the combined qualifying session for Round 4 of the Barber Dodge Pro Series season at the Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200 at Portland International Raceway Friday morning. The session ended about an hour before a downpour disrupted the CART FedEx Championship Series and PPG-Dayton Indy Lights practices.
"I felt really good in the car and knew I just had to try to get a nice smooth one in and put everything together and I did it there towards the end," Bell said. "I was lucky because right after I crossed the start/finish and got to the Festival curves they piled up down there."
Bell referred to an incident with just under three minutes remaining which cut the session short, leaving several drivers stranded in the pit lane area after making adjustments. Brent Sherman of Northbrook, Ill. spun on the exit of the turn and stalled facing oncoming traffic, which left Jon Fogarty of Portola Valley, Calif. with no place to go but into the front of Sherman when he cut past Alex Sperafico of Toledo Parana, Brazil. Fogarty, who qualified sixth with a time of 1:14.738/94.747 mph, and Sherman were both unhurt in the head-on collision which damaged both cars.
Rookie Michael Valiante of Vancouver, B.C. secured the outside starting spot on the front row with a lap of 1:14.355/95.235 mph. Like Bell, Valiante posted his best time on the concluding laps.
"All I heard the whole session was my dad and my friend Clay telling me 'Go faster, go faster'," Valiante said. "I did a 14.9, 14.6...and I cranked off another fast lap and another fast lap. It was pretty cutthroat."
Sepp Koster of Heemskerk, Netherlands posted the third-quickest time with a 1:14.530/95.011 mph, in front of a pair of series veterans. Todd Snyder of Sheffield, Mass was fourth with a 1:14.709/94.784 mph, while reigning series champion Jeff Simmons of East Granby, Conn. (1:14.723/94.766 mph) placed fifth. Koster was happy to see a reversal in his qualifying fortunes.
"My feeling is finally I've got everything working right. Basically I don't have any problems. The qualifying I've had before were marked by some sort of niggling problem or mistake or whatever happened," Koster said. "I felt like I could go for it a little bit and have confidence in the car. I caught some traffic in the end when everyone was still improving and that was a pity, but I shouldn't complain. I feel very good."
Fogarty will begin next to Simmons in row 3, while Coto de Caza, Calif. native Moran (1:14.773/94.703 mph) and rookie Vanderlan Junior of Goiania, Brazil (1:14.866/94.585 mph) claimed the seventh and eighth positions, respectively. Jamie Menninga of Pella, Iowa (1:15.154/94.223 mph) and Memo Rojas Jr. of Mexico City (1:15.320/94.015 mph) completed the top 10. In all, 21 drivers qualified within a scant two-second spread.
The parity through the field might have some effect on the start of the race, as the 1.967-mile, 12-turn Festival course narrows considerably after a long straight, which should provide a brake check for the pack of hungry young drivers. Of course, those starting at the front of the pack have considerably less to worry about.
"You see a lot of the races like Cleveland where the corners from the start really funnel down. I think Portland is a great example of that, so the front row is the best place to be at a track like this," Valiante said.
Saturday's 40 minute timed race is scheduled to begin at 3:15 p.m. PST.
#PORTLAND, Oregon - Combined Barber Dodge Pro Series qualifying results from Portland International Raceway on the 1.967-mile, 12-turn road circuit for Saturday's 40-minute race at the Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200.
Pos, Car#, Driver/Hometown, Fastest Lap/MPH
1, 25, Townsend Bell/Costa Mesa, Calif. -1:14.093/95.572 mph 2, 95, Michael Valiante/Vancouver,Canada -1:14.355/95.235 3, 7, Sepp Koster/The Netherlands -1:14.530/95.011 4, 11, Todd Snyder/Sheffield, Mass. -1:14.709/94.784 5, 1, Jeff Simmons/East Granby, Conn. -1:14.723/94.766 6, 52, Jon Fogarty/Portola Valley, Calif. -1:14.738/94.747 7, 71, Rocky Moran, Jr./Coto de Caza, Calif. -1:14.773/94.703 8, 12, Vanderlan Junior/Goiania, Brazil -1:14.866/94.585 9, 2, Jamie Menninga/Pella, Iowa -1:15.154/94.223 10, 15, Memo Rojas, Jr./Mexico City, Mexico -1:15.320/94.015 11, 55, John McCaig/Victoria, B.C., Canada -1:15.333/93.999 12, 85, Brian Pelke/Lansing, Ill. -1:15.354/93.972 13, 8, Roger Yasukawa/Santa Monica, Calif. -1:15.434/93.873 14, 9, Rodrigo Bernardes/Sao Paulo, Brazil -1:15.441/93.864 15, 49, Tim Bergmeister/Bergheim,Germany -1:15.445/93.859 16, 16, Alexandre Sperafico/ToledoParana, Brazil-1:15.547/93.732 17, 14, Juan Jose Font/Caracas,Venezuela -1:15.552/93.726 18, 17, Matt Plumb/Unionville, Pa. -1:15.554/93.724 19, 36, Nilton Rossoni/Curitiba, Brazil -1:15.599/93.668 20, 31, Iradj Alexander/Switzerland -1:15.671/93.579 21, 6, Peter Boss/Narragansett, R.I. -1:15.684/93.563 22, 77, Scott Mayer/Franklin, Wis. -1:16.370/92.722 23, 13, R. B. Stiewing/Lime Rock, Conn. -1:16.393/92.694 24, 4, Brent Sherman/ Northbrook, Ill. -1:16.582/92.466