It was a near thing, Dane Cameron's first Atlantic Championship Series pole. All day long, two cars swapped fastest lap times with one another ahead of the other 18 cars competing as part of this weekend's double header at Road America. First, ...
It was a near thing, Dane Cameron's first Atlantic Championship Series pole. All day long, two cars swapped fastest lap times with one another ahead of the other 18 cars competing as part of this weekend's double header at Road America. First, Jonathan Bomarito, driver of the #26 Del Taco car from Mathiasen Motorsports, was the fastest on the track. Moments later, Dane Cameron, Genoa Racing's 19 year old rookie, driving the #19 car, was faster. And so the two drivers kept alternating P1 and P2 through practice and then through qualifying. Cameron took the pole on the very last lap, besting the man who was almost his teammate for 2008 at the now non competing team Sierra Sierra Enterprises.
Cameron said: "It was really great to get our first pole, especially after Edmonton, where we were really, really close and just kind of got pipped right at the end there. It's really great for the team. The team's been working really, really hard and making some really big strides the last couple of races with our car. We've finally been able to lock ourselves consistently in the top five. The first couple of races were really tough for us, but I think we have a good handle on it now".
Bomarito demonstrated considerable generosity when he commented: "It was a great session. Dane's last lap was amazing. We were pretty much the whole session four-hundredths this way, a tenth this way, just trading the whole time. I think the last two laps I was on top then his last lap just blistered a good one in there. He's got, probably, three tenths (of a second) on us. I guess we'll see tomorrow if he can do that every lap or not. It's good. Me and Dane have been pretty much the two cars to beat all weekend and we've been pushing each other along. It's been cool. Hats off to him. It was a great pole, and we're going to have a great race tomorrow."
Thus far the season has been toughest on points leaders and race winners, and this weekend will likely be no exception. Season opener winner Simona De Silvestro came very close to qualifying third today, with a time of 1:59.889, only to have Laguna Seca winner James Hinchcliffe take the position away with a final lap time of 1:59.871, a difference in the low thousands of a second.
According to James, "I've got to be honest, we're not overly confident at this point. That was a really, really tough session for us. The car was not quite what we needed it to be.We kind of pulled it out of the bag, but these two guys (Cameron and Bomarito) are kind of in a league of their own right now".
Mont Tremblant winner Junior Strous has continued to struggle in the middle of the pack since his win, today qualifying a slightly better seventh place. Bomarito won the first race in Edmonton, and he has the best chance to become the first two race winner of the season. American Jonathan Summerton, the victor of the second race in Edmonton, qualified right after De Silvestro in fifth place.
With Carl Skerlong qualifying 9th, American drivers make up 4 of the 10 fastest qualifying cars in this field, a development that is certainly encouraging for those who follow North American open wheel racing - and especially those concerned about the dearth of American open wheel racers. The Atlantics Class of 2008 may just prove them wrong.