Allmendinger leads seventh consecutive qualifying session; breaks track record en route to Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Provisional Pole LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 8, 2003) - A.J. Allmendinger's ( ...
Allmendinger leads seventh consecutive qualifying session; breaks track record en route to Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Provisional Pole
LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 8, 2003) - A.J. Allmendinger's (#4 RuSPORT) recent qualifying and race performances are beginning to sound like a broken record to followers of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, and in first-round qualifying for Sunday's Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio (SPEED Channel, 12:30 p.m. ET), Allmendinger broke a track record that has been in place for 10 years to put his car on the provisional pole.
For the seventh consecutive qualifying session, Allmendinger placed his car atop the time charts with a best lap of 1:15.668 (107.427 mph) to shatter the existing one-lap track record of 1:16.319 (106.13 mph) established by Jacques Villeneuve in 1993. In the process, Allmendinger extended his lead in the 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship standings by another marker and now leads Ryan Dalziel (#28 Pro-Works/Discovery Lake/Daily Record) by 35 points. He also assured himself of a front-row starting position, and has not yet failed to qualify inside the top-three in his nine-race Toyota Atlantic career.
Allmendinger is joined on the provisional front row by his teammate, Aaron Justus (#3 RuSPORT), who turned a best lap of 1:15.841 (107.182 mph) in his similarly-colored bright yellow Toyota-powered Swift. Justus has already started inside the top-five positions in six of eight starts thus far in 2003, and is looking to rebound from a disappointing 14th place result in last weekend's Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres. Following his only other finish outside the top-five this season (a 13th place performance at Cleveland), Justus rebounded to start and finish second in the Molson Indy Toronto. His performance on Friday puts him in position to duplicate or exceed that performance this weekend.
Dalziel qualified third provisionally with a best lap of 1:15.853 (107.165 mph), and heads into Saturday's final round of qualifying looking to continue a streak of consecutive top-four starting positions. The Scot has placed his car inside the first two rows in each of the past seven events, dating to a third place qualifying result for the Argent Mortgage Toyota Atlantic Race at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Qualifying fourth on the provisional grid was Canadian Michael Valiante (#19 Lynx Racing), who clocked a best lap of 1:15.927 (107.061 mph), and has qualified inside the top-five positions for the past four races. He has also finished on the podium twice and been inside the top-four in four consecutive events, which enabled him to move into fourth place in the 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship point standings.
The man Valiante is chasing for third in the points race qualified just behind him in provisional qualifying, as Jonathan Macri (#84 NTN Bearings) put his car fifth on the results sheet with a best lap of 1:16.074 (106.854 mph). He has not started inside the top-five since he lined-up second on the grid for Round 3 at Milwaukee in June, and has just two top-five qualifying performances in eight starts thus far this season. Nevertheless, Macri has five podium finishes this season, and if he can maintain the same level of qualifying performance in Saturday's final session, he could be in position to collect his first career Toyota Atlantic race victory on Sunday. Macri was the final car in the session to turn a lap in excess of the previous track record.
After missing last weekend's Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres, Centerville, Ohio native Bryan Sellers (#17 Lynx Racing/3Dimensional Services/Drive4USA) returned to action in his home state and placed his car sixth on the provisional grid at 1:16.324 (106.854 mph). Sellers is followed by a fellow resident of the Buckeye State as Joey Hand (#27 DSTP Motorsports) put his car seventh on the provisional grid at 1:16.393 (106.408 mph).
Mexico's Luis Diaz (#33 Telmex/Dorricott Racing) was eighth provisionally at 1:16.422 (106.367 mph), with Alex Figge (#69 Wine Country Motorsports/Patrick Racing/Trench Shoring) ninth at 1:16.486 (106.278 mph), and Kyle Krisiloff (#7 U.S. Grand Prix Formula One) filled out the top-10 at 1:16.730 (105.940 mph).
Saturday's schedule at the Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio provides for a 30-minute Toyota Atlantic practice session beginning at 8:15 a.m. ET, and the day concludes with final qualifying from 3:00 - 3:30 p.m. ET. Live Timing & Scoring data from every session is available on the official web site of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, www.toyotaatlantic.com.
Quotes from the day's top-three qualifiers follow below:
A.J. ALLMENDINGER (#4 RuSPORT):
"We've had a great car since the test after Cleveland. RuSPORT and especially my engineer, Burke Harrison, we've really been working well together. I think, right now honestly, we're probably lacking a little bit of stability in the car when it gets really hot out right now, and that's something we'll go back and work on. I'm very pleased with the result, obviously, especially when you can break a record that's standing for 10 years. Honestly, I wasn't really happy with how I drove in qualifying. I kind of overdrove the car for the conditions that we had. Fortunately enough, I had a good enough car and put a good enough lap together that put me on top. More importantly, it's one more point toward the championship. Especially on a track that's this hard to pass on, starting on the front row guaranteed is very important."
AARON JUSTUS (#3 RuSPORT):
"The test yesterday for us was imperative. We tested here after Cleveland, I believe it was, and we struggled a bit. My team, the #3 car, we're still growing. We're getting pretty anxious, because the first win, the first pole, all that type of stuff is around the corner. Just little pieces have kept us out of that. Yesterday was a real learning experience as well. We tried different things with the car and made huge progress, and so today we just worked on the process for qualifying knowing that if we work on the process, work on what we're doing, the results will come. The speed is there and that showed. I mean, everything worked really, really well. The strategy paid off and the result was there."
RYAN DALZIEL (#28 Pro-Works/Discovery Lake/Daily Record):
"I think from our point-of-view it was a pretty interesting session. We've worked pretty hard over yesterday and this morning trying to find a good balance with the car. I think that, at the start of the session, we had a really good balance on the used tires, but unfortunately, when we made the switch to the stickers, we had a little balance switch. That's kind of where my slump was in the middle of the session. I had to come in with five minutes to go and try and make a quick change with the balance. Sierra Sierra did a good job in the pits, and my engineer made a good call to make some changes and we went back out, but unfortunately I only got one lap at the end to really show what the car could do. I think we're pretty happy with where we're at today and we can work on it tonight and hopefully improve it for tomorrow."