No "Dot" For Hill; Mastronardi Takes Barber Dodge Pole
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 28, from Rick Roso) - Although he's the points leader, Rino Mastronardi hasn't earned a Barber Dodge Pro Series pole position since the season-opener in February at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix. Today in final qualifying, the 26-year-old Italian snatched the pole away from provisional polesitter Tony Renna, turning a lap of 1:15.041 at an average speed of 117.536 miles per hour to beat Renna's Friday time of 1:15.363 around Watkins Glen International's 2.45 miles. Mastronardi had been only ninth quickest on Friday.
Chris Menninga also beat Renna's time and will start second. Derek Hill, winner of three of the past four Barber Dodge races, will start fourth, alongside Renna in the second row.
Despite a bad spherical bearing in the left-rear rocker of Mastronardi's car found after Friday's qualifying, he refused to blame the car for his uncharacteristic performance. "Yesterday, the car was fine in the early part of the session. I just was not driving well at all. No focus. But I knew today I could be quick," Mastronardi said.
"No dots today," said Hill, referring to the mark used in the official points standings to designate the pole winner at each race, worth a valuable single point. Hill was on a three-race pole winning streak coming into Watkins Glen. "But I'm not worried about starting fourth. Here, the draft is very important and someone not as quick can catch you. I don't think anyone's going to run away. It's going to be a really close, exciting race, I think." Overall, the first 13 drivers are within one second.
The surprise of the day was Jeff Simmons, younger brother of CART Indy Lights driver Chris. In just his second Barber Dodge start, Simmons qualified fifth fastest, about four-tenths off of Mastronardi's time. Rocky Moran, Jr., who finished second here last year, spun off into the gravel about halfway through. The car was recovered but there wasn't enough time to clear all the gravel from the car so he will start a disappointing 10th.
Start time for tomorrow's 30-minute race, round six of the 1997 Barber Dodge Pro Series championship, is scheduled for 10:10 a.m. ESPN2 will air the race Sunday, July 20 at 5:000 p.m. Eastern.
Starting grid following final qualifying for SCCA Pro Racing Barber Dodge Pro Series race at Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, N.Y. Qualifying position, driver, hometown or country, lap time and average miles per hour around 2.45-mile, 8-turn road course. All cars identical Mondiale Barber Dodge V6 open-wheel, single-seat race cars.
1. Rino Mastronardi, Italy, 1:15.041, 117.536 mph 2. Chris Menninga, Pella, Iowa, 1:15.215, 117.264 3. Tony Renna, Deland, Fla., 1:15.260, 117.194 4. Derek Hill, Santa Monica, Calif., 1:15.378, 117.010 5. Jeff Simmons, East Granby, Conn., 1:15.456, 116.889 6. Martin Stenshorne, Norway, 1:15.513, 116.841 7. Will Langhorne, Washington, D.C., 1:15.501, 116.820 8. Andy Boss, Narragansett, R.I., 1:15.554, 116.738 9. Jarle Gasland, Norway, 1:15.613, 116.647 10. Rocky Moran, Jr., Coto de Caza, Calif., 1:15.619, 116.637 11. Nick Rondet, San Diego, 1:15.952, 116.126 12. G.J. Mennen, Jr., Austin, Texas, 1:16.043, 115.987 13. Steven Rikert, Rhinebeck, N.Y., 1:16.047, 115.981 14. Samer Hindi, Los Angeles, 1:16.172, 115.791 15. Eric Tresslar, Denver, 1:16.176, 115.784 16. Jarrett Boon, Phoenix, 1:16.187, 115.768 17. Alfonso Ribeiro, Hollywood, Calif., 1:16.231, 115.701 18. Giovannii Gulinelli, Italy, 1:16.259, 115.658 19. Victor Gonzalez, Hatoray, Puerto Rico, 1:16.310, 115.581 20. Joshua Rehm, Plymouth, Mass., 1:16.387, 115.465 21. Charles Willis, Germantown, Tenn., 1:16.428, 115.403 22. Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Valencia, Calif., 1:16.442, 115.382 23. John McCaig, Victoria, B.C., Canada, 1:16.590, 115.159 24. Scott Brunk, Frederick, Md., 1:16.657, 115.058 25. Mike Durand, Wayland, Mass., 1:16.787, 114.863 26. Bill Tichenor, Dallas, 1:17.103, 114.392 27. Patsy DiFilippo, Apollo, Pa., 1:18.029, 113.035