Allmendinger retains Mid-Ohio Pole after rain washes out qualifying; earns his second championship point of the weekend to extend his lead in the standings LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 9, 2003) - Not even rain could prevent A.J. Allmendinger ( ...
Allmendinger retains Mid-Ohio Pole after rain washes out qualifying; earns his second championship point of the weekend to extend his lead in the standings
LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 9, 2003) - Not even rain could prevent A.J. Allmendinger (#4 RuSPORT) from extending his lead in the championship standings in final qualifying as he gained another point in a rain-soaked session and will roll off the starting grid from the inside of the front row for the sixth time this season in Sunday's Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio (SPEED Channel, 12:30 p.m. ET).
Just as the field prepared to leave pit lane to begin final qualifying, raindrops began falling around the 2.258-mile permanent road course, leaving teams and drivers with little time to claim a guaranteed front row starting spot and a championship point. The competitors knew that conditions would deteriorate quickly and all made their best efforts to turn in the quickest speed, but it was Allmendinger who would turn the quickest lap, as the rookie posted a best lap of 1:17.376 (105.056 mph) before the skies opened up and effectively brought the session to a conclusion 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 Allmendinger's time, allowing Allmendinger to extend his lead in the championship standings to 36 points over Ryan Dalziel (#28 Pro-Works/Discovery Lake/Daily Record). 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, and his Saturday performance was the eighth consecutive time that he has been the quickest at the end of a qualifying session.
With six pole positions for the season, Allmendinger now has the most poles since Patrick Carpentier qualified first eight times en route to the 1996 series championship. In each of the previous five events that Allmendinger has received a $1,000 check for the Toyota Pole Award, he has gone on to win the race.
Allmendinger will be joined on the front row by his RuSPORT teammate Aaron Justus (#3 RuSPORT), who turned in a Friday best time of 1:15.841 (107.182 mph). This is the third time that the RuSPORT teammates have started on the front row, and the drivers have gone on to finish 1-2 in both of the previous events when they started first and second. All of the drivers in the field will start based on their times in Friday's provisional qualifying session.
Dalziel will start third at 1:15.853 (107.165 mph) for his eighth straight top-four starting spot, and will be joined on Row 2 by Michael Valiante (#19 Lynx Racing), who had a best lap of 1:15.927 (107.061 mph). For Valiante, the fourth place starting spot is his fifth straight top-five starting spot.
Canadian Jonathan Macri (#84 NTN Bearings) will start fifth at 1:16.074 (106.854 mph) for his best starting position since he started second in Round 3 at Milwaukee. Macri will share the third row with rookie Bryan Sellers (#17 Lynx Racing/3Dimensional Services/Drive4USA) who starts a Toyota Atlantic career-best sixth after turning in a best lap of 1:16.324 (106.504 mph).
Joey Hand (#27 DSTP Motorsports) starts seventh with a best lap of 1:16.393 (106.408 mph), followed by Luis Diaz (#33 Telmex/Dorricott Racing) in eighth at 1:16.422 (106.367 mph), Alex Figge (#69 Wine Country Motorsports/Patrick Racing/Trench Shoring) in ninth at 1:16.486 (106.278 mph) and Kyle Krisiloff (#7 U.S. Grand Prix Formula One) at 1:16.730 (105.940 mph).
Sunday's schedule for the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship provides 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. Live Timing & Scoring data is also available for every session on the official web site of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, www.toyotaatlantic.com.
Quotes from the top-three drivers on the grid follow below:
A.J. ALLMENDINGER (#4 RuSPORT):
"Sitting on the pit lane, we were actually going to start with our first set of tires and do our normal, kind of, three sets for the qualifying session. Right about two minutes before they let us go, it started to sprinkle and you could see the clouds rolling in. I kind of knew that we were going to have to do this quick, so we put our second set on real quick, right before we went out. The next thing was that I knew I had to get around Michael (Valiante) to get a clean lap in. Luckily I got a good drive out of the Keyhole, and he didn't really want me to pass because he made it as hard as he could, but I got around him. The car was just amazing. It was probably the best the car's been all weekend here. My engineer, Burke Harrison, made a great call on the changes, so the first lap the car just had the grip there. I just knew I had to get a good lap in before it started to rain. We only got one in, and almost crashed on the second one, because it didn't start raining until about the Carousel, so I came in there full speed on a really good lap and almost lost it. After that, we stayed out there for four or five laps to see if it was going to dry up, and once I saw it really starting to rain, we just came in and knew we had it. Fortunately enough, I got a good lap in and RuSPORT gave me a great car, so I'm really looking forward to tomorrow. The most important thing is a point. This track's hard to pass on, and we're on the front row. We've got two yellow cars on the front row. Last time that didn't work out to our benefit on the start, but I think we'll go over it one more time to try to figure out a new plan, and keep that red car and everybody else behind us. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow. I think RuSPORT and Burke Harrison and everybody in the technical staff gave me a great car."
AARON JUSTUS (#3 RuSPORT):
"Today is actually my lucky day because we went out and found out we had an engine problem. Had the session been dry, I wouldn't have been able to run. Luckily the rain came so yesterday's results stands. A.J. got a good first lap in. I don't know if it was good, but it was fast enough, so the results stand. We just spent the rest of the time trying to sort out the problem. The strategy was, go now! Get whatever you can, get a lap in, and then we'll play it by ear. We weren't able to do that. Good thing A.J. did."
RYAN DALZIEL (#28 Pro-Works/Discovery Lake/Daily Record):
"Our plan, unfortunately, didn't work with the weather. We expected it to rain early on and then dry up towards the end. We actually ran scrubbed tires whereas the RuSPORT guys ran some stickers. I think that really was our downfall. We should have run stickers early on and at least have been able to compete with A.J. I think we had the second-quickest time on the first lap, so it would have been interesting to see what both of us could have done on stickers. I think we're both a lot quicker than anybody else, but that's the way it goes. We're starting on the second row. We started there last week and we challenged for the win, so we'll take it from there. I think the car is good. This is the first time this year where we've had a fast first corner. I think, as long as everybody's sensible, which we've been this year, and I'm pretty sure we'll get through the first corner. As long as everybody gives each other room this year like we've done, we should be good."