SBRS: Rookie Bjork gets Mid-Ohio pole

(LEXINGTON, Ohio) Aug. 12, 2000 -Swedish rookie Thed Bjork has aptly demonstrated his prowess in the Barber Dodge Pro Series all season. At round seven of the Barber Dodge Pro Series at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course supporting the CART FedEx ...

(LEXINGTON, Ohio) Aug. 12, 2000 -Swedish rookie Thed Bjork has aptly demonstrated his prowess in the Barber Dodge Pro Series all season. At round seven of the Barber Dodge Pro Series at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course supporting the CART FedEx Miller Lite 200, Bjork converted to capture his first career Barber Dodge pole. Bjork is no stranger to the front row of the grid. He started second at Cleveland in round six, and had several poles to his name in the Swedish Formula 3 series. But this 19-year old who has never raced in America until this year has taken the Pro Series by storm in only his seventh attempt. Bjork will start ahead of Jon Fogarty and Nilton Rossoni for Sunday's race.

Quick all throughout the final qualifying session, he vaulted from third to the pole as his Corecharge Barber Dodge Reynard streaked beneath the waving checkered flag. In the process, Bjork established a new Barber Dodge qualifying record for the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio circuit at 1:24.423 sec. for an average speed of 97.146 mph.

"The car felt great today and so did the track. I made a few changes from yesterday then just went out and just set the perfect lap," relayed Bjork who drives the number 11 car. "I'm so happy that I'm just flying. This is where I want to be so I just have to continue making it work."

Series championship leader Jon Fogarty will start the race alongside Bjork. He too was quick all session, but like Bjork pushed his luck all the way to the final green flag lap to secure his starting position. 0.175 sec. behind Bjork.

"Thed is a very good driver and I don't expect him to make any mistakes or do anything crazy. He's not that type of guy," said Fogarty, 25 of Wellington, Nev. "Being on the outside isn't really a disadvantage at this track. So I just hope to make a good start and see what we can do."

Brazilian 19-year old Nilton Rossoni was the first to set a time good enough to snatch the provisional pole away 18 minutes into the session. He was the would-be polesittter until Bjork eclipsed his time, and was bumped to third only seconds later by Fogarty. The time was nevertheless a big improvement over his provisional eighth slot.

"We made some changes to the car from yesterday, and it paid off," said Rossoni. "I'm happy to be here starting on the second row, close to these guys. So hopefully we'll have a good car, and a nice clean race tomorrow."

In all the first 15 cars on the grid are separated by a mere one second. Provisional polesitter Sepp Koster attempted valiantly to maintain his place on the grid getting to as high as second after Rossoni's initial improvement on the pole time. He will start the race fifth behind Matt Plumb who jumped up from tenth on the provisional grid. Rounding out the top-10 qualifiers are Jamie Menninga in sixth followed by Michael Valiante, Roger Yasukawa, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Andy Lally.

Round seven of the Barber Dodge Pro Series will take the start Sunday afternoon following the Miller Lite 200 Champ Car race at 4:30 p.m. EDT.

<pre> Final Qualifying Resutlts for Round 7 of th Barber Dodge Pro Series at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio. August 12, 2000

All cars are Dodge Powered Reynards on Michelin tires

Grid Car Pos # Driver/Hometown Time 1 11 Thed Björk/Vretstorp, Sweden 01:23.676 2 52 Jon Fogarty/Wellington,Nevada. 01:23.851 3 36 Nilton Rossoni/Curitiba, Brazil 01:23.931 4 17 Matt Plumb/Unionville, Penn. 01:24.001 5 5 Sepp Koster/The Netherlands 01:24.015 6 7 Jamie Menninga/Pella, Iowa 01:24.046 7 95 Michael Valiante/Vancouver,Canada 01:24.053 8 9 Roger Yasukawa/Santa Monica, Calif. 01:24.145 9 31 Ryan Hunter-Reay/Boca Raton, Fla. 01:24.275 10 62 Andy Lally/Northport, NY 01:24.305 11 28 Andre Nicastro/Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 01:24.331 12 19 Joey Hand/Sacramento, Calif. 01:24.380 13 8 Peter Boss/Narragansett, R.I. 01:24.568 14 55 John McCaig/Victoria, B.C., Canada 01:24.614 15 20 Alexandre Sperafico/Brazil 01:24.672 16 25 Kip Gulseth/Manitowoc, Wisc. 01:24.807 17 51 Jon Morley/Columbus, Ohio 01:24.960 18 15 Jonathon Bottoms/Buffalo, N.Y. 01:25.042 19 23 Marc Breuers/Gladwyne, Penn. 01:25.082 20 97 Ryan Howe/Temecula, Calif. 01:25.179 21 26 Rhonda Trammell/Pittsboro, Ind. 01:25.197 22 4 Brent Sherman/ North Barrington, Ill. 01:25.312 23 53 Tom Fogarty/Soledad, Calif. 01:25.475 24 21 Jon Vannini/Hillsborough, California 01:25.613 25 73 Jeff Glenn/Oakland, Calif. 01:26.013 26 22 Jay Ricci/Grosse Pointe, Michigan 01:26.315 27 77 Scott Mayer/Franklin, Wisc. 01:26.423 28 42 John Hall/Houston, Texas 01:26.738 29 33 Milka Duno/Caracas, Venezuela 01:26.863

-George Tamayo

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