Road Atlanta II: AWR qualifying notes

AWR's Pecorari and Rahal Top Star Mazda Field In Qualifying Thursday at Road Atlanta BRASELTON, Ga., Sept. 29 - Andersen Walko Racing's Robbie Pecorari and Graham Rahal qualified first and second, respectively, Thursday afternoon at Road Atlanta...

AWR's Pecorari and Rahal Top Star Mazda Field In Qualifying Thursday at Road Atlanta

BRASELTON, Ga., Sept. 29 - Andersen Walko Racing's Robbie Pecorari and Graham Rahal qualified first and second, respectively, Thursday afternoon at Road Atlanta for tomorrow's 45-minute Star Mazda race here. All of the team's drivers were in the top seven, as Pablo Donoso qualified sixth and Jonathan Klein was right behind him in seventh place in the 29-car field.

Pecorari, of Aston, Pa., took only 1:20.554 to travel over the 2.54-mile, 12-turn road course at an average speed of 113.514 mph to earn his first pole position of the year with his SAI Hydraulics No. 23. A pole is worth one point, which is important since he's currently second in the point standings in the championship, which is presented by Goodyear.

Rahal, of New Albany, Ohio, was just 0.394 of a second behind his teammate. His official qualifying time was 1:20.948 (112.961 mph) in the Bobby Rahal Automotive Group No. 12, which is also sponsored by Bosch, Norwalk Furniture and Renier Construction.

Donoso, of Santiago, Chile, was sixth in the Cristal Beer No. 22 with a time of 1:21.312 (112.456 mph). Klein, of Long Grove, Ill., was just 0.249 of a second behind Donoso, a three-time pole winner this year. Klein's official qualifying time was 1:21.561 (112.112 mph) in his No. 26, which is sponsored by Nexus Distribution Corp., Midwest Steel & Services, Ironclad Performance Wear and ProStar.

"We didn't change a thing from practice," Pecorari said while waiting for his car to pass the post-qualifying technical inspection. "We just had new tires, that's all. The car is the best as it's been not only this weekend, but also all year. It's perfect. I couldn't ask for more.

"Now all I can do is to get as many points as possible and see what [Raphael] Matos does." Matos qualified fourth.

Pecorari, who also topped the charts in the last practice session before qualifying, wasn't running at the end of the 22-minute qualifying session Thursday afternoon, which made some insiders wonder about his strategy.

He had a reason, and it was a good one. "We knew we were six-tenths up, and it wasn't worth it to use up our tires trying to go faster," he said. "We were trying to save our tires for the race."

"In the big scheme of things, it was good," Rahal said of his qualifying session. "We could have probably done his [Pecorari's] time; in fact I know we could have, but there was no reason to push it and put it in the wall. If Robbie wins that'll be good because he's my teammate, but no way am I going to let him get away with it easily."

"Qualifying was not bad, but it was not as good as we had hoped," Donoso said. "All we can do is try to finish on the podium tomorrow."

"It was a good session, but it's still not where I want to be," agreed Klein. "But it's the best we've qualified in a while, which is good for the team and good for me."

Tomorrow's 45-minute race is scheduled to begin at 2:50 p.m. The event supports Saturday's Petit Le Mans American Le Mans Series race.

The Star Mazda season finale will be held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Mont erey, Calif. Oct. 13-15.

Star Mazda races are broadcast on a tape-delayed basis on SPEED. The race from Road America is scheduled to be broadcast at 2 p.m. this Sunday. The race from Mosport is scheduled to be shown at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 23. Saturday's race from Road Atlanta is scheduled to air at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6, and the season finale from Laguna Seca is scheduled to air at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19. All times are Eastern.

Andersen Walko Racing is one of the premier formula car teams in North America. It is located in Fairfield, N.J. and North Versailles, Pa. For more information please see andersenwalko.com, starmazda.com, americanlemans.com, speedtv.com and restartcommunications.com or call (973) 244-1900. The drivers' Web sites are located at robbiepecorari.com, grahamrahal.com, pablodonoso.com and jonathankleinracing.com.

-awr/lm-

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About this article
Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Bobby Rahal , Robbie Pecorari , Pablo Donoso , Jonathan Klein