LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 9, 2003) - It was more than just a vivid flashback to Milwaukee. It was a nightmare relived. A well prepared car for Luis Diaz was left more or less idle during final qualifying at Mid-Ohio Sports Care Course on ...
LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 9, 2003) - It was more than just a vivid flashback to Milwaukee. It was a nightmare relived. A well prepared car for Luis Diaz was left more or less idle during final qualifying at Mid-Ohio Sports Care Course on Saturday because a rain squaw struck the track nearly as soon as the session began. The result was essentially a "non-qualifying" session with all drivers relegated to whatever times they posted in provisional qualifying.
In Diaz's case, it was particularly painful because Saturday's 30-minute morning practice was one of his most productive in the second half of the 12-race 2003 Atlantic season. The Telmex Swift 014a showed all the signs of turning the corner as it ran third or fourth fastest for the majority of practice. The balance was good. The timing was good. All Diaz needed was a clear track for final qualifying. That didn't occur.
A similar frustration raged at Milwaukee in round three when Diaz was "on the pole" with four cars remaining in final qualifying. However, a vicious rain storm struck the track at that time. Further qualifying was canceled. Per CART rules, all times for final qualifying were thereby voided. The result at Mid-Ohio on Saturday was essentially the same. Because of the weather, Diaz will be forced to start eighth for Sunday's ninth round in the Toyota Atlantic Championship.
Just as the field prepared to leave pit lane to begin final qualifying, raindrops began falling around the 10-turn, 2.258-mile permanent road course, leaving teams and drivers with little time to claim a front row starting spot or a championship point. Conditions quickly deteriorated as the skies opened up and effectively brought the session to a halt after little more than five minutes.
A handful of drivers continued to run laps in the wet conditions, but nobody was able to come close to topping A.J. Allmendinger. He will start from the pole position based on his track record speed of 1:15.668 (107.427 mph) established in Friday's provisional qualifying session.
Sunday's schedule for the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship calls for a 15-minute warm-up session beginning at 8:00 a.m. (ET), and will be followed by Round 9 of the 12-race 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, the Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio at 11:30 a.m. ET.
SPEED Channel will carry television coverage in the United States and Canada on a one-hour tape delay beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET (9:30 a.m. PT). Live Timing & Scoring data is also available for every session on the official web site of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, www.toyotaatlantic.com.