SBRS: Road Atlanta qualifying

(BRASELTON, Ga.) Sept, 29, 2000 -1999 Co-Rookie of the Year Michael Valiante of Vancouver, B.C. won his second Barber Dodge Pro Series career pole for round 11 of the 2000 season at the Road Atlanta Motor Sports Center. In doing so, Valiante ...

(BRASELTON, Ga.) Sept, 29, 2000 -1999 Co-Rookie of the Year Michael Valiante of Vancouver, B.C. won his second Barber Dodge Pro Series career pole for round 11 of the 2000 season at the Road Atlanta Motor Sports Center. In doing so, Valiante unseated fellow Co-Rookie of the Year Roger Yasukawa who provisionally held the pole, what would have been his first. Valiante's No. 95 Sguerznoni-Italian Motors Dodge Reynard scorched the 2.54-mile Road Atlanta circuit in 1:23.695 sec for an average speed of 109.254 mph, thus officially establishing a new qualifying record. Sharing the front row with Valiante is Brazilian Nilton Rossoni with American Matt Plumb slotted in third.

An enormously pleased Valiante was already focussed on a race win moments after he got out of his racecar. The second year driver has been plagued with misfortune throughout the season that had initially begun with so much promise. His first pole came at the season opener in Sebring where he also shared the front row with Rossoni. The Brazilian went on to win that race on the penultimate lap ahead of Valiante.

"I really want to get a win this season, it's been so up and down," said Valiante. "Working with Rocky Moran has helped a lot, as I don't have to be the only one thinking about car set up. The car felt good. I took a lap to cool the tires and then went and set the time."

Valiante snared the pole for good 21 minutes into the 30-minute final qualifying session after having previously held it 12 minutes in. His first pole time stopped the clocks in 1:24.079 sec. only to have Rossoni lower the mark a minute later by 0.021sec. Eight minutes later the 20-year old Canadian found nearly half a second, leaving everyone else to play catch-up. No one else did though Rossoni gave it all he had in the final minutes. Unfortunately for him, the all out effort came with a price as he slipped off the road in turn three contacting the barriers heavily. Rossoni emerged unscathed however his racecar will require significant repairs.

"I was running a low down force set up, and it made the car really fast, but also hard to drive," commented Rossoni. "It's good that Jon (Fogarty) is in 10th, so I hope for a good race tomorrow."

American Matt Plumb made a last minute bid for the pole, but fell two-tenths of a second short. His inside row two starting spot continues the qualifying form he has shown in the last four rounds, though he hopes his erratic luck in races comes to an end. Plumb earned his first Barber Dodge victory at round 9 in Vancouver, but has had two separate tussles in rounds 8 and 10 that have knocked him out race winning contention.

"We made a whole series of changes to the car during the session and luckily the car got faster," commented Plumb.

Series points leader Jon Fogarty had a rare off pace qualifying. The Californian will line up for the race in tenth and can ill afford to let Rossoni get away. With a driver's ten best results counting toward the championship, Rossoni could clinch with a victory on Saturday should Fogarty finish fifth or lower.

"If I knew exactly what happened, I'd be happier because I would know what to do about it. At this point I'm a little bit puzzled as to what's going on with the car. I still have the race tomorrow so not all is lost. I just have to work hard this evening to figure out the problems and hope for the best," said Fogarty.

The fastest 11 cars are covered by one second in the field on a circuit that allows little room for error as well as passing. Sepp Koster dropped a spot from his provisional place and will start fourth with Jamie Menninga fifth. Provisional polesitter Yasukawa dropped to sixth quick as he could only improve by a tenth of a second over yesterday's effort. Rounding out the first ten are Alexandre Sperafico (7th), Thed Bjork(8th), Brent Sherman (9th) and Fogarty (10th)

Round 11 of the Barber Dodge Pro Series drops the green flag Saturday Sept. 30 at 9:30 a.m. EDT prior to the start of Petit Le Mans presented by Audi.

<pre> ROUND 11 Barber Dodge Pro Series Braselton, GA August 29,2000 QUALIFYING RESULTS

Pos/Car/Driver/Hometown/ Time /MPH 1/ 95/ Michael Valiante/Vancouver,Canada/ 01:23.695/ 109.254 2/ 36/ Nilton Rossoni/Curitiba, Brazil/ 01:23.785/ 109.136 3/ 17/ Matt Plumb/Unionville, Penn./ 01:23.844/ 109.060 4/ 5/ Sepp Koster/The Netherlands/ 01:23.846/ 109.057 5/ 7/ Jamie Menninga/Pella, Iowa/ 01:23.873/ 109.022 6/ 9/Roger Yasukawa/Santa Monica, Calif./ 01:23.934 108.943 7/ 20/ Alexandre Sperafico/Brazil/ 01:24.034/ 108.813 8/ 11/ Thed Björk/Vretstorp, Sweden/ 01:24.141/ 108.675 9/ 4/ Brent Sherman/ North Barrington, Ill./ 01:24.281/ 108.494 10/ 52/ Jon Fogarty/Portolo Valley, Calif./ 01:24.911/ 108.450 11/ 31/ Ryan Hunter-Reay/Boca Raton, Fla./ 01:24.341/ 108.417 12/ 19/ Sara Senske/Kennewick, Washington / 01:24.704/ 107.952 13/ 23/ Marc Breuers/Gladwyne, Penn. / 01:24.775/ 107.862 14/ 21/ Jon Vannini/Hillsborough, California/ 01:25.135/ 107.406 15/ 25/ Kip Gulseth/Manitowoc, Wisc./ 01:25.149/ 107.388 16/ 14/ Mikel Miller/Rancho Cordova, Calif./ 01:25.216/ 107.304 17/ 53/ Tom Fogarty/Soledad, Calif./ 01:25.646/ 106.765 18/ 77/ Scott Mayer/Franklin, Wisc./ 01:26.905/ 105.218

Track Length: 2.54-miles Qualifying Record: 1:23.695 sec (109.254 mph) NEW RECORD Michael Valiante, Sept. 2000

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Series Other open wheel
Drivers Jon Fogarty , Michael Valiante , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Brent Sherman , Tom Fogarty , Marc Breuers , Roger Yasukawa , Jon Vannini , Nilton Rossoni , Thed Björk , Sepp Koster , Scott Mayer , Matt Plumb , Rocky Moran , Mikel Miller