HOUSTON (October 6, 2001) -- Martin Basso (Michael Shank Racing/3b Engine Valve Swift) came into Saturday's qualifying session holding the provisional pole after pacing Friday's CART Toyota Atlantic Championship's first qualifying session on the...
HOUSTON (October 6, 2001) -- Martin Basso (Michael Shank Racing/3b Engine Valve Swift) came into Saturday's qualifying session holding the provisional pole after pacing Friday's CART Toyota Atlantic Championship's first qualifying session on the wet streets of Houston. Basso snatched the pole in the final minute of qualifying Saturday with a time of 1:06.880 seconds (82.195 mph), giving him a great shot at getting his first win of the season in tomorrow's race.
Today's pole was the second of the season for Basso and the third of his Atlantic career. Basso won his first pole last year at Road America and collected his second one earlier this season at Cleveland. 2001 Atlantic Champion, Hoover Orsi (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print Swift) held the pole going into the final minute and looked like he would nab his fifth consecutive Atlantic pole before Basso's fastest lap. The lap turned by Orsi stood up for second quickest at 1:06.905 seconds (82.164 mph). Orsi entered into this weekend winning poles in the past four races at Chicago, Trois-Rivieres, Road America, and Vancouver. Basso earned the important bonus point for his pole cutting his deficit for second place in the Championship to 13 points behind David Rutledge (Lynx Racing Swift). Rutledge was fourth quickest with a time of 1:07.057 seconds (81.978 mph).
"The car had a little push, but I worked a little with the sway bar the whole session," said Argentina's Martin Basso. "I didn't come in to make any change and just worked on the car from inside. I did a fast lap at the beginning, then worked with the bars and found two-tenths on my second to last lap, then missed a little bit on the last lap. I think it's great for the team." Basso continued on what he thought about tomorrow's race. "There are just two races left and we are one point closer to David (Rutledge). I think it's going to be a really good fight tomorrow in the race. Joey (Hand) and Hoover (Orsi) both have really good cars. I think it's going to be an interesting race."
"I have a good race car for tomorrow," said Brazil's Hoover Orsi. "The time was pretty close and everybody was trying hard to improve their times the last few laps. I had a really good time going on my final lap, but I made a little mistake in the first corner, so that was it. Second is a good result though. My team has been working hard this whole year to give me a fast race car for every race."
Joey Hand (DSTP Motorsports/BG Products Swift) owned the top spot in the closing minutes as well with a time of 1:06.947 seconds (82.113 mph) and looked like he would earn his first career Toyota Atlantic Pole, after coming off of his first career win last month in Vancouver. However, while Basso and Orsi were putting up their best laps of the session, Hand was stuck in traffic and not able to answer the pair for the pole.
"You get up there with five minutes to go, and you know it's not going to hold, so you just try and put down another lap," said Hand. "I came up on some traffic and tried to get clear and just didn't make it work out. I didn't put together a good enough lap, but we still have a great race car and we're looking forward to tomorrow's race."
Hand is also in the hunt for second place in the championship only trailing Rutledge by 22 points, and is leading the Rookie of the Year chase over Jonathan Macri (P-1 Racing/NTN Bearings Swift) by 22 points. Hand can clinch the rookie title by simply finishing ahead of Macri in tomorrow's race. Macri will start fifth tomorrow after turning in a time of 1:07.171 seconds (81.839 mph).
Today's qualifying session was slowed early due to the contact incident involving Frank Dancs (Condor Motorsports/Ariba Swift). Dancs slid into the turn nine tire wall five minutes into the session damaging the front wing and suspension of his Swift. The red flag lasted four minutes.
The CART Toyota Atlantic teams are back on track for raceday on Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m. CST for a 15-minute warm-up session, followed by the 10:15 a.m. CST 43-lap race.
ESPN2 and ESPN International will broadcast Sunday's Round 11 race from Houston on Sunday, October 14, at 8:00 p.m. ET, while Atlantic fans in Canada can watch the race on CTV SportsNet on Friday, October 19, at 8:00 p.m. in the EAST, Monday, October 15, at 7:00 p.m. in the ONTARIO and WEST Zones, and Tuesday, October 16, at 7:00 p.m. in the PACIFIC zone. CTV repeat dates are: PACIFIC, Friday, October 19, at 3:00 p.m. and WEST, Friday, October 19, 4:00 p.m. and Saturday, October 20, at 1:00 p.m. There are no repeat dates for the EAST and ONTARIO time zones. ESPN2 will replay the race on Tuesday, October 16, at 5:00 a.m. EST.