FARTUSZEK FASTEST IN ST. PETE ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Feb. 24) - Barber Dodge Pro Series rookie Mauro Fartuszek of Argentina shocked the series regular drivers by taking the pole position for Sundays 30-minute race on the streets of St. Petersburg. Fartuszek, 19, lapped the 1.9-mile, eight-turn street circuit in 1:08.851 for an average speed of 83.66 mph to nip Swedens Fredrik Larsson, who took three poles and won one race last year, by 5/1000ths of a second. Fartuszek has a grand total of two days of testing in the 165 mph open-wheel Barber Dodge race cars prior to this race, the season opener of this 12-event, $600,000 equal-car championship. Starting third is last years Skip Barber Racing Rookie of the Year, Tim Moser of Ventura, Calif., who brings sponsorship from David Lettermans WorldWide Pants company in addition to the funding from Skip Barber. Through an interpreter, Fartuszek said he was not surprised to be on pole for his very first Barber Dodge race, though that has happened less than a half-dozen times in the series 10 year history. He has never done a rolling start, but Fartuszek said he was pretty sure he could do it correctly. Nicolas Rondet of France, Thomas Schie of Norway and Geoff Boss of Narragansett, R.I., last years championship runnerup, make up the rest of the first three rows. Derek Hill, son of Americas first Formula 1 World Champion Phil Hill (1961), will start eighth. An oil-fitting leak sprayed oil on Boss rear tires, slowing his pace, while Memo Gidley brushed the wall after just two flying laps, meaning the rising star will start last. Rondet, Schie, Leandro Larrosa and Jeff Willoughby also tasted concrete during the quualifying session.

Starting order for Sundays 30-minute SCCA Pro Racing Barber Dodge Pro Series season opening round at the Kash n Karry Florida Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

1. Mauro Fartuszek, Argentina, 1:08.851/83.66 mph 2. Fredrik Larsson, Sweden, 1:08.856/83.65 3. Tim Moser, Ventura, Calif., 1:09.008/83.47 4. Nicolas Rondet, France, 1:09.014/83.46 5. Thomas Schie, Norway, 1:09.100/83.36 6. Geoff Boss, Narragansett, R.I., 1:09.148/83.30 7. Tony Renna, Deland, Fla., 1:09.150/83.30 8. Derek Hill, Santa Monica, Calif., 1:09.237/83.19 9. Tim Enoch, Lake Forest, Calif., 1:09.415/82.98 10. Rino Mastronardi, Italy, 1:09.519/82.85 11. Skip Streets, Manhttan Beach, Calif., 1:09.528/82.84 12. Seija Ara, Japan, 1:09.660/82.69 13. Jeff Bucknum, Novato, Calif., 1:09.706/82.63 14. Jakob Sund, Denmark, 1:09.806/82.51 15. Andres Felipe Gomez, Colombia, 1:09.840/82.47 16. Jeff Willoughby, E. Lansing, Mich., 1:09.886/82.42 17. Wes Short, Palm Harbor, Fla., 1:09.922/82.38 18. Bryan Selby, Alpine, Calif., 1:09.927/82.37 19. Steven Rikert, Rhinebeck, N.Y., 1:09.933/82.36 20. Chris Menninga, Pella, Iowa, 1:10.036/82.24 21. Rocky Moran, Jr., Covina, Calif., 1:10.121/82.14 22. G.J. Mennen, Vernon, N.J., 1:10.194/82.06 23. Nick OSullivan, Boulder, Colo., 1:10.415/81.80 24. Jarrett Boon, Chandler, Ariz., 1:10.562/81.63 25. Gary Glanger, Dallas, Texas, 1:11.217/80.88 26. Joe Vantreese, Batavia, Ill., 1:11.235/80.86 27. Leandro Larrosa, Argentina, 1:11.712/80.32 28. Memo Gidley, San Rafael, Calif., 1:13.122/78.77

-Rick Roso