DAY TWO: IT'S STILL RENO'S RINO'S
RENO, Nev. (Sept. 21) - With the two Barber Dodge Pro Series qualifying sessions within four hours of each other, drivers couldn't dwell on what they did and did not want to do. You either took the track by the neck to wring out a good lap or you didn't. The track is wide but the corners are tight and somewhat fiddly (as proof, consider that the 600 hp Trans-Am cars are but one second quicker than the Barber Dodges). "Reno" Mastronardi strangled the Reno Grand Prix's 1.27 miles in the first session (a 1:00.847/75.14 mph), a time which held up to points leader Fredrik Larsson's charge in the second (1:00.984/74.97 mph). It is Mastronardi's first pole of the year and gives him his best chance at that elusive first win.
Asked why he takes so well to street courses (at St. Petersburg, the first race of the year and Mastronardi's first-ever Barber Dodge race, he finished second), Rino said, "On street track, am always busy. No time to relax, full concentration all time. I like that."
Larsson tried his best to knock Mastronardi off the pole, putting up his fast lap in the session's second half (following a black flag to haul off Seiji Ara's car after he tagged the outside wall entering Turn 1 when his foot slipped off the brake pedal), but the concensus was the track was less grippy than this morning.
Larsson can clinch the Barber Dodge championship with a win in tomorrow's race, regardless of what Thomas Schie or Mastronardi do, but depending upon where those two finish, Larsson can come home as low as fifth and still take home the $100,000 Career Enhancement Award. "I can't tell you what I plan to do tomorrow," Larsson said. "It all depends on where Thomas and Rino are running. We'll see."
Rocky Moran, Jr., didn't let his big crash yesterday sap any confidence; he turned the fifth fastest lap, Moran's best qualifying position since Watkins Glen (second) in June.
Celebrity drivers Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Sean Patrick Flanery and Alfonso Ribeiro acquitted themselves quite well, qualifying 14th, 16th and 19th, respectively. -Rick Roso
The times: Barber Dodge Pro Series starting order following Saturday's final qualifying session, 1.27-mile, 10-turn temporary street course, Reno Grand Prix, for Sunday's 35-lap race (45.5 miles).
1. Rino Mastronardi 1:00.847 2. Fredrik Larsson 1:00.984 3. Geoff Boss 1:01.087 4. Thomas Schie 1:01.207 5. Rocky Moran, Jr. 1:01.434 6. Tim Moser 1:01.595 7. Tony Renna 1:01.634 8. Derek Hill 1:01.669 9. Seiji Ara 1:01.833 10. Chris Menninga 1:01.861 11. Samer Hindi 1:01.866 12. Andres Gomez 1:01.968 13. Steve Rikert 1:02.164 14. Mark Paul Gosselaar1:02.204 15. Jarrett Boon 1:02.385 16. Sean Patrick Flanery1:02.403 17. Carlos Bonetti 1:02.451 18. John McCaig 1:02.533 19. Alfonso Ribeiro 1:02.660 20. Brian Pelke 1:02.679 21. G.J. Mennen 1:03.086 22. Steve Pelke 1:04.010 23. Patsy DiFilippo 1:05.176 24. Cary Capparelli 1:05.858 -end