Denver: Saturday qualifying notes

Allmendinger takes sixth consecutive pole and eighth of the season at the Argent Mortgage Challenge; puts himself in position to clinch Toyota Atlantic Title DENVER (August 30, 2003) - A.J. Allmendinger ( ...

Allmendinger takes sixth consecutive pole and eighth of the season at the Argent Mortgage Challenge; puts himself in position to clinch Toyota Atlantic Title

DENVER (August 30, 2003) - A.J. Allmendinger (#4 RuSPORT) has put himself in the catbird seat as he looks to wrap-up the 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship by putting his car on the pole position for Sunday's Argent Mortgage Challenge at the Centrix Financial Grand Prix (SPEED Channel, 2:00 p.m. ET).

Allmendinger broke the track record that he established in Friday's provisional qualifying session by throwing down a best lap of 1:06.966 (88.540 mph), and earned the $1,000 Toyota Pole Award for the sixth consecutive race and the eighth time overall this season. With eight poles this season, the rookie has the most poles in a single season since Patrick Carpentier won eight poles in 1996. Gilles Villeneuve holds the record for most poles in a season with nine in 1976, but his poles were divided between two different Atlantic championships (six in the CASC Player's Challenge Series and three in IMSA Formula Atlantic). Jimmy Vasser also won eight poles in 1991.

More importantly, he added yet another point to his championship lead, and enters tomorrow's race with a 28-point advantage over Scotland's Ryan Dalziel (#28 Pro-Works/Discovery Lake/Daily Record). He will clinch the series crown if his lead is more than 22 points after tomorrow's 11th round of the 12-race 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship.

For the second consecutive weekend and the third time in the past four races, Allmendinger will share the front row with Canadian Michael Valiante (#19 Lynx Racing) who clocked a best lap of 1:07.268 (88.143 mph). It was Valiante's seventh straight top five qualifying performance, and he goes into Sunday's race looking for his seventh consecutive top four finish. Valiante has finished in the top four in all but one of his nine starts this season, but missed Round 4 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca due to an illness.

Aaron Justus (#3 RuSPORT) starts third after posting a best lap of 1:07.268 (88.143 mph). The RuSPORT rookie collected his sixth straight top five starting position, and heads into the race in search of his first career victory in Toyota Atlantic competition. He has finished third in each of his past two starts, and has failed to finish outside the top five only twice in 10 starts thus far this season.

Defending Argent Mortgage Challenge champion and reigning CART Toyota Atlantic champion Jon Fogarty (#1 Norwalk Furniture) will start fourth in his first Toyota Atlantic race since winning at Denver last year after turning in a best lap of 1:07.649 (87.647 mph). It is interesting to note that the Team Rahal pilot also started fourth in last year's inaugural event on the streets of Denver before going on to take his second victory of the season en route to the title.

Dalziel will start fifth on the grid with a best lap of 1:07.692 (87.591 mph), snapping a streak of nine consecutive races in which he has qualified inside the top four. The second-year pilot has finished second in each of his past three starts and has scored top-five finishes in the last eight races and 11 of his last 12 starts. However, he will need a strong performance and a little bit of help if he is to remain in the race for the series championship beyond the Argent Mortgage Challenge.

Boulder, Colo. native Alex Figge (#69 Wine Country Motorsports/Patrick Racing/Trench Shoring) put his car sixth on the grid with a best lap of 1:07.743 (87.525 mph), and is enjoying his best starting position since he qualified sixth for Round 5 at Portland International Raceway. Fogarty's Team Rahal teammate Danica Patrick (#24 Argent Mortgage Company) will start seventh for her third top-seven starting spot in her past three starts after logging a best lap of 1:07.818 (87.428 mph), while Luis Diaz (#33 Dorricott Racing/Telmex) starts from the eighth position after turning in a best lap of 1:07.827 2-2-2-2

Allmendinger Retains Denver Pole

(87.417 mph). Kyle Krisiloff (#7 U.S. Grand Prix Formula One) starts ninth after clocking a best lap of 1:07.914 (87.305 mph), and Jonathan Macri (#84 NTN Bearings) fills out the top-10 on the grid at 1:07.968 (87.235 mph). The top nine drivers qualified within one second of each other.

Sunday's schedule for the Argent Mortgage Challenge begins with a 15-minute warm-up session beginning at 8:00 a.m. MT and concludes with Round 11 of the 12-race 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, which takes the green flag at 10:30 a.m. MT. The scheduled distance of the race is 37 laps (60.939 miles) or 50 minutes, whichever comes first. SPEED Channel will offer television coverage in Canada and the United States on a 90-minute tape delay beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Quotes from the day's top three qualifiers follow below:

A.J. ALLMENDINGER (#4 RuSPORT):

"The car's been pretty good all weekend. RuSPORT's given me a great car from the start of Friday practice. This morning we worked on a couple of setup things, even with the weather making the track damp. When we started qualifying, the car was actually really good. We had the older set of tires on, and I was able to throw down quick laps right away. It was just kind of a guessing game with the weather, because it started coming back. I could see sprinkles on my shield when I was out there, so we made a new tire run with 15 minutes left. Right away the car was really good the first couple laps of the session, and I was able to do two quick laps my first two laps on the track. I tried to cool down the tires and get another lap in, but it seemed like the track, with about 10 minutes left got real slippery. I couldn't figure out why, if it was just my tires or my car going away, or if it was the track changing, so we'll have to go and look at that. Overall, I'm very pleased. It's going to be pretty tough to pass, so starting up front is going to be good if we can just get through Turn 1 and be clean and race from there. The most important thing is trying to clinch the championship, and if I can win the race, I'm sure we're going to do that. If not, then the championship's the most important thing."

MICHAEL VALIANTE (#19 Lynx Racing):

"We made some changes on our car from yesterday's qualifying, and the car was much better today. I was able to go quick immediately, even on the older tires that I had. The track seemed to just get progressively better and better. Before we knew it, we were turning lap times faster than yesterday's session. The session was really good. We put on a new set of tires, which changed the balance a little bit, and we couldn't get the maximum out of the car on the new set of tires. That was it. I definitely think we had a little bit more, but it's tough when the two yellow cars are fast every single weekend."

AARON JUSTUS (#3 RuSPORT):

"Our issues were interesting going in, regardless of the weather. We changed our setup drastically to try to find something special. We had a setup that would have argued for a podium, but I don't think it would have produced any wins, so at any rate, we had no idea what to expect from the car. When it started to rain, it just complicated our problems. It started our drier than I thought. They said it was pretty wet on the straightaway and the first corner. When we went out there, it was slippery, but it wasn't that bad. Quickly, the equipment came in and we were running lap times that were faster than yesterday pretty fast."

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Jon Fogarty , Michael Valiante , Jonathan Macri , Kyle Krisiloff , Luis Diaz , Gilles Villeneuve , A.J. Allmendinger , Alex Figge , Aaron Justus , Danica Patrick