Fogarty holds top spot; Valiante fills out front row for Road America showdown. ELKHART LAKE, Wis., (August 17, 2002) -- Jon Fogarty (Dorricott Racing/Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards Swift 014.a) got a little help from Mother Nature on...
Fogarty holds top spot; Valiante fills out front row for Road America showdown.
ELKHART LAKE, Wis., (August 17, 2002) -- Jon Fogarty (Dorricott Racing/Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards Swift 014.a) got a little help from Mother Nature on Saturday on his way to his third pole of the season. Fogarty's track record time of 2:01.110 seconds (120.327 mph), that he set in yesterday's qualifying session, held up as nobody could top his time on the rain washed 4048-mile Road America circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Even though the track was dry from morning showers that slowed the morning practice times, the circuit was "green" after most of the rubber was washed off. Current points leader, Michael Valiante (Lynx Racing Swift 014.a), turned in the fastest time in the 30-minute session with a lap of 2:01.892 seconds (119.55 mph), much slower than Friday's time of 2:01.353 seconds (120.086 mph). However, because Valiante set the fastest time today, he will start tomorrow's 17-lap race on the front row along side Fogarty. Fogarty cut Valiante's points lead to 18 points after winning the provisional pole yesterday, but with the fast time today, Valiante bumped his lead back to 19 points heading into tomorrow mornings 11:15 a.m. CST race.
"I'm happy to win the pole and start on the front row," said Fogarty, who also won poles this year at Chicago and Toronto. "I'm disappointed with myself because I gave Michael (Valiante) a tow at the end of qualifying. We missed some objective but one can't plan on red flags. You have to adjust. We changed to fresh tires and that didn't help much since the timing of the red flag. Once we got going, the car was consistent just like Luis' (Diaz) ."
The red flag came out after the midway point of the 30-minute session when Alex Figge (Worldspeed Motorsports/Northern Trust/Redline/Wine Country Motorsports/Ironclad Swift 014.a) spun off into the gravel trap at the exit of Turn 12. After assistance from the CART Simple Green Safety Team, Figge was able to continue in the session.
"Since it rained this morning the track was quite green, so it took a long time for my car to come in, but it kept getting better and better as the session went on," said Valiante. We had a bit of an engine misfire in qualifying yesterday which slowed us down, but we got it sorted out overnight and had a good run today. I've raced here twice before, scoring one win and a second, so I know how to run at the front here, and I think that will help me in the race."
Valiante will be surrounded by Dorricott blue and white at the start of Sunday's race. Fogarty's teammates, Luis Diaz (Dorricott Racing/Telmex Swift 014.a) and Alex Gurney (Dorricott Racing/Behr Castrol Swift 014.a) will fill out the second row. Like most of the 25 car Atlantic field, both drivers failed to top their times from Friday's qualifying session. Diaz stands on his time of 2:01.258 seconds (120.180 mph) and Gurney at 2:01.340 seconds (120.099 mph).
Although both times were quicker than Valiante overall, they will be behind the Canadian tomorrow morning.
"This was disappointing," said Gurney, who is still looking for his first career Atlantic win. I ran into a lot of traffic near the end of the session and I wasn't able to turn my best lap. We were also hurting a little on straight line speed. We'll think our way through this tonight and hopefully find our way to the front during the race."
Diaz found today's session difficult as well. "It was a tough session because I had some problems. First, I had trouble with my brakes. Then we had a few other little things appear that kept me from running my fastest. I have a good car for the race though and I think it will be consistent and durable for this track. It should be an interesting race."
Interesting might be an understatement. Gurney and Diaz are 32 and 40 points behind Valiante in the Championship and need to cut into his lead this weekend to keep their title hopes alive. The scenario should set up an exciting first lap as well as race tomorrow morning.
Waldemar Coronas (Scuadra Fortia/Aviacsa/Royce/Maizoro/Millenio Swift 014.a continues to have a strong second half of the season with a fifth place starting spot tomorrow. Coronas will be flanked by the ever consistent, Rocky Moran Jr. (Sigma Autosport/Sunoco/BG Products Swift 014.a).
Ryan Hunter-Reay (Hylton Motorsports/Briggs & Stratton/Andor Capital Management/Medlock Ames Winery Swift 014.a), who is third in the Championship 22 points behind Valiante was second quickest today, but will start eighth in tomorrow's race.
Speed Channel will carry Sunday's Round 10 race from Road America on same day delay at 1:30 p.m. EST.
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship is one of the world's premier open-wheel development series and the top rung on CART's "ladder system", as well as having $100,000 race purses and a one million dollar points fund. It is also noted for its long history of graduating its stars into CART competition. Among the drivers who have graduated from the Atlantic Series are CART Champ Car stars Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser, Patrick Carpentier, Alex Tagliani as well as jpformer series champions Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan and Jacques Villeneuve.