After setting a new Molson Indy track qualifying record in the CART Toyota Atlantic class yesterday, series points leader A.J. Allmendinger bested his standard three times in the second qualifying session this morning. And if this trend keeps up,...
After setting a new Molson Indy track qualifying record in the CART Toyota Atlantic class yesterday, series points leader A.J. Allmendinger bested his standard three times in the second qualifying session this morning. And if this trend keeps up, he could move up to the CART Champ series next season.
Thirty minutes into the 45-minute qualifying session, the RuSport Racing driver shaved 15 one-hundredths of a second off yesterday's time, completing the 1.755 mile circuit in 1 minute 5.290 seconds.
Ten minutes later, he lowered the bar to 1:05.258 and set the third record on his next lap at 1:04.920, averaging 96.816 mph.
The Hollister, California native, who is a rookie in the series this season, credits tire management for his success.
"The session just went perfect because we started off on our first set of tires and I think I was quickest with that set," recalls Allmendinger. "So we put the second set of tires on, which I actually ran a few laps on yesterday, so they weren't brand new, and went a little bit quicker."
"Everybody put on brand new sets of tires for the last one and we got a little worried because we didn't know if we would hold up, so we put a new set on. The car was pretty good. It still could get a little bit better for the race."
RuSport teammate Aaron Justus, another freshman in Toyota Atlantic, qualified second at 1:05.709 averaging 96.151 mph, while Molson Indy defending champion Michael Valiante crossed the line at 1:05.751 (96.090). Valiante took second spot on the qualifying grid temporarily midway through the session, but Justus bumped him down a notch with six minutes remaining.
Justus is very impressed with the performance of his teammate.
"He's got experience on these tracks and he's coming off a good season in Barber Dodge," said Justus. "He's got a lot of momentum right now. I'm doing my best to get back into race form after a couple of years off, and just learn a lot from A.J. and his momentum."
Allmendinger was awarded a championship point for finishing first in each of the two qualifying sessions, improving his series-leading total by two to 104 points. He now leads second-place driver Ryan Dalziel by 17 points. Dalziel has 87 points, followed by Jonathan Macri (80), Justus (65), and Valiante (64).
Final classification in the session was Allmendinger, Justus, Valiante, Dalziel, Joey Hand, Macri, Figge, Kyle Krisiloff, Danica Patrick, Stephan- C. Roy, Luis Diaz, Bryan Sellers, Alex Garcia, and Eric Jensen. Philip Fayer, who did not participate in either session on Friday, did not drive in this morning's qualifying session either.
The only driver who did not improve his time from yesterday's session was Sellers who drew the red flag when he stalled on the back straightaway with smoke emitting from the rear of the car.
The CART Toyota Atlantic series race, the seventh of 12 races this season, will take place this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. EDT.