CLEVELAND (June 30, 2001) - Martin Basso (Michael Shank Racing/3b Engine Valves Swift) continued his comeback from early season woes with a record setting run, during qualifying for Round 5 of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship. Basso snapped...
CLEVELAND (June 30, 2001) - Martin Basso (Michael Shank Racing/3b Engine Valves Swift) continued his comeback from early season woes with a record setting run, during qualifying for Round 5 of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship. Basso snapped off a quickest lap of 1:07.760 seconds (111.889 mph) in the closing minutes of Saturday's qualifying to edge out Brazil's Hoover Orsi (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print Swift), who logged a 1:07.763 seconds (111.884 mph) during the qualifying session that took place on Friday.
The pole is the second of Martin Basso's Atlantic career after winning his first one last year at Road America. The pole run at the Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin track also a track record. The pole at Cleveland comes following a third place performance in Montreal. This is exactly what one of the pre-season favorites needed to get back in the scrap for the Championship.
"I'm really happy with the team," said Argentina's Martin Basso. "In the middle of qualifying yesterday we made a change to the rear of the car that really helped at the end of the session and again in this morning's practice, so we thought we would be very good in qualifying today. We did make one more small change for this afternoon, which made a big difference too and it helped us win the pole and set a new track record. This is good for our confidence and hopefully it will change our luck for the rest of the season. And starting from the front row should help us a lot in the race because turn one is so difficult and always seems to cause problems with cars in the pack at the start. So, we will just try to stay out front and out of trouble, but there are a lot of good cars in the race and I know it will be difficult to stay there. Tomorrow should be very interesting for the drivers and exciting for the fans that come out early to watch us race."
A late red flag with 5 minutes to go in the session due to the spin of Charles Hall (Duesenberg Brothers Racing/Western Union First Data Swift) probably secured the pole for Basso. Drivers only had time to run two quick laps after the green flag came back out before the session ended a few minutes later. Orsi was not so sure the red flag mattered in the final outcome though.
"I couldn't see the car running fast enough to get back by Martin (Basso), said a disappointed Orsi. "The car was just not what it was yesterday. I mean it is still good but yesterday, it felt perfect. I still feel pretty good for the race although I would have liked to have the pole. It is the third time this season I have barely lost the pole.^Ô Orsi was edged out in Nazareth by Tony Ave (P-1 Racing/Miller Genuine Draft Swift) and then again by Grant Ryley (Worldspeed Motorsports/Northwest Speedwerx Swift) the following race in Milwaukee.
Veteran drivers took all but one of the top seven spots during qualifying on Saturday. Joey Hand (DSTP Motorsports/BG Products Swift) qualified third in his first weekend on the Burke Lakefront Airport with a time of 1:07.782 seconds (111.853 mph). "It was a good session,^Ô quoted the Chardon, Ohio based driver. Our time could have been faster, but we were caught out by the red flag at the end. The car was much better as the session went on. It was fast by myself and in traffic. Once again, the DSTP crew gave me a terrific car and I know we're going to be in great shape for the race.^Ô
The top five drivers in Saturday's qualifying session were separated by less than .13 seconds. Tony Ave (P-1 Racing/Miller Genuine Draft Swift) placed fourth with a time of 107.819 seconds (111.792 mph) followed by current Atlantic Championship points leader, David Rutledge (Lynx Racing Swift) who was timed at 1:07.886 seconds (111.681 mph). Rutledge ran the session in a backup car after his primary car was damaged in practice session incident earlier this morning.
"It turned out that my off-course excursion this morning damaged the car more than we thought, so the team rolled the dice, gambled that it wouldn't rain and we qualified the spare car,^Ô said the points leader from Vancouver. "We put the same setup on it as the primary car, but even with the same setting two cars are going to behave differently, so we had to make a couple of adjustments during qualifying and there's still a lot more to be gotten from the car. The red flag with five minutes to go took away some valuable track time that might have helped us move up, but the basic package is good and with the changes we'll be making between now and the race, even starting fifth, we should be in competition for the win.^Ô
Rutledge currently leads the Championship after four races with a total of 64 points, followed by the pair of Orsi and Ave who both stand at 53 points. Basso won the bonus point for winning the pole and currently sits in fourth place with a total of 33 points.
ESPN2 and ESPN International will broadcast Sunday's Round 5 race from Cleveland on Saturday, July 7, at 4:30 p.m. ET, while Atlantic fans in Canada can watch the race on CTV SportsNet on Tuesday, July 10, at 7:00 p.m. in all four time zones. CTV repeat dates are: EAST, Wednesday, July 11, 2:30 p.m., ONTARIO, Wednesday, July 11, 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 17, 2:30 p.m., Friday, July 20, 2:00 p.m., PACIFIC, Saturday, July 14, 11:00 p.m., and WEST, Wednesday July 11, 4:00 p.m. ESPN2 will replay the race on Friday, July 13, at 4:00 a.m. ET.