Cleveland: Saturday qualifying report

CLEVELAND (July 13, 2002) -- Before the sun broke over the top of the Cleveland skyline on Saturday morning, it was well known that many of the drivers in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship would break into the 1:06 range and that time would...

CLEVELAND (July 13, 2002) -- Before the sun broke over the top of the Cleveland skyline on Saturday morning, it was well known that many of the drivers in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship would break into the 1:06 range and that time would be needed to knock Jon Fogarty (Dorricott Racing/Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards Swift 014.a) off of the provisional pole. By the end of Saturday afternoon's qualifying, six drivers had cracked into the 1:05 range and a total of 15 had posted times under Martin Basso's 2001 track qualifying record of 1:07.760 seconds (111.889 mph).

Ryan Hunter-Reay (Hylton Motorsports/Medlock Ames Winery/U.S. Print Swift 014.a) shattered Basso's record by more than 2 ½ seconds as he lapped the 2.106-mile temporary street circuit at Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport in 1:05.225 seconds (116.238 mph). It was the third pole of the season for the Boca Raton, Florida driver capturing previous top spots at Laguna Seca and Chicago.

"We knew we needed to find a clear lap and if we could do that, we would be up front," said first year driver, Hunter-Reay. "We kept our heads down and worked really hard to make sure we got that gap. The car was great and I drove my heart out. I think that lap was one of the best I have ever driven in a race car to date."

Fogarty held the provisional pole after yesterday's first round qualifying and earned a guaranteed front row starting spot, but it was not enough to keep Hunter-Reay at bay. Fogarty was second quickest with a time 1:05.660 seconds (115.468 mph). Both Fogarty and Hunter-Reay earned one bonus point each cutting the points lead held by Michael Valiante (Lynx Racing Swift 014.a) down to 13 and 17 points respectively. Valiante posted the fifth quickest lap with a time of 1:05.813 seconds (115.199 mph). For Fogarty, it will be his third front row start of the season along with seven of eight starts in the first two rows.

"I found a good lap," said Fogarty. "It wasn't as good as Ryan's but the car was still good. Qualifying was a bit frustrating because I had both good feelings and bad feelings. I knew there were certain mechanical things with the car that limited me from running faster. It's a good feeling to be able to identify the problems and know what to change. It's a bad feeling when you realize it's final qualifying and you won't have time in that session to change anything. My car has more speed in it and I know what direction to go to obtain it. I'm happy to be starting off the front row. We'll work through it in warm-up. It's good to be on a normal three-day race weekend so we have time to make more changes."

"We're as fast as the pole car around most of the track, but we're losing all our time in one particular corner," quoted Valiante. "That actually simplifies our job of finding the right setup for tomorrow because we're so close and there's only one area of the track to worry about. The car actually feels quite good, so we'll look at the data, and change out the engine since this is the one I used in Toronto last weekend. I feel like we're in pretty good shape for the race tomorrow, and it should be exciting, particularly the first turn."

The biggest surprise of the weekend was not the record speeds that were being turned in qualifying, but the performance of first year team, Scuadra Fortia. Six weeks before the season opening event in Monterrey, Mexico, the team had no cars or equipment and their two drivers were going to be competing on a majority of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship tracks for the first time. Argentina's Waldemar Coronas (Scuadra Fortia/Aviacsa/Royse/Maizoro/Millenio Swift 014.a), who has never raced at Cleveland before, earned his best career Atlantic starting position of third with a time of 1:05.677 seconds (115.438 mph).

"The car was much better today with the added rubber on the track," said a thrilled Coronas. "We had some oversteer that we will change for the race. This position is very good for the team. We have been learning all of the tracks this year and I have been working hard to pick up the circuits as fast as possible. This track was good for me right when we started Friday. Now we have a good car to run up with the leaders."

Luis Diaz (Dorricott Racing/Telmex Swift 014.a) will start directly behind his teammate, Fogarty, via his fourth quickest time of 1:05.683 seconds (115.427 mph). Last week, the pair tangled in Turn 3 on Toronto's tight street circuit layout and you can be sure that they have been reminded not to have a repeat performance in Cleveland's notorious left hand Turn 1 tomorrow.

The session was only slowed once for two minutes due to the Turn 9 spin of Eduardo Figueroa (Scuadra Fortia/Aviacsa/Royse/Maizoro/Millenio Swift 014.a). Figueora made no contact and continued on in the session to log the 24th fastest time.

The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship will be back into action tomorrow morning with their 15-minute warm-up session beginning at 9:00 a.m. EDT. The 32-lap Round 8 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship race at Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport begins at 10:55 a.m. EDT. Speed Channel will televise the 32-lap event from Cleveland on same day delay at 5:00 p.m. EDT with a repeat showing on July 15th at 3:00 p.m. EDT.

<pre> 1. (1) Ryan Hunter-Reay, 65.225, 116.238 mph. 2. (32) Jon Fogarty, 65.660, 115.468 mph. 3. (88) Waldemar Coronas, 65.677, 115.438 mph. 4. (33) Luis Diaz, 65.683, 115.427 mph. 5. (19) Michael Valiante, 65.813, 115.199 mph. 6. (4) Rocky Moran Jr, 65.855, 115.126 mph. 7. (34) Alex Gurney, 66.055, 114.777 mph. 8. (28) Ryan Dalziel, 66.325, 114.310 mph. 9. (5) Sepp Koster, 66.386, 114.205 mph. 10. (23) Grant Ryley, 66.520, 113.975 mph. 11. (31) Jonathan Macri, 66.636, 113.776 mph. 12. (11) Rodolfo Lavin, 66.755, 113.574 mph. 13. (9) Roger Yasukawa, 66.810, 113.480 mph. 14. (14) Alex Figge, 66.867, 113.383 mph. 15. (27) Buddy Rice, 67.044, 113.084 mph. 16. (3) David Wieringa, 68.115, 111.306 mph. 17. (6) Frank Dancs, 68.383, 110.870 mph. 18. (16) Stephan C Roy, 68.419, 110.811 mph. 19. (13) Kyle Krisiloff, 68.554, 110.593 mph. 20. (7) Nicolas Rondet, 68.764, 110.255 mph. 21. (8) Alex Garcia, 68.766, 110.252 mph. 22. (26) David Cutler, 69.581, 108.961 mph. 23. (81) Carl Russo, 69.704, 108.768 mph. 24. (86) Eduardo Figueroa, 70.031, 108.261 mph. 25. (18) Bob Siska, 72.176, 105.043 mph. 26. (21) DeWayne Cassel, 72.368, 104.764 mph. 27. (20) Eric Jensen, 73.403, 103.287 mph.

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-CART/ATLANTIC-

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Series Atlantic
Drivers Alex Gurney , Ryan Dalziel , Jon Fogarty , Martin Basso , Michael Valiante , Grant Ryley , Jonathan Macri , David Wieringa , Kyle Krisiloff , Luis Diaz , Ryan Hunter-Reay , David Cutler , Roger Yasukawa , Alex Garcia , Buddy Rice , Rodolfo Lavin , Alex Figge , Sepp Koster , Waldemar Coronas , Bob Siska , Carl Russo , Eduardo Figueroa , Frank Dancs , DeWayne Cassel , Eric Jensen , Rocky Moran