Macri leads opening day of practice for Milwaukee Mile Centennial 250 presented by Miller Lite; entire field covered by less than one second WEST ALLIS, Wis. (May 29, 2003) - Canadian Jonathan Macri ( ...
Macri leads opening day of practice for Milwaukee Mile Centennial 250 presented by Miller Lite; entire field covered by less than one second
WEST ALLIS, Wis. (May 29, 2003) - Canadian Jonathan Macri (#84 NTN), who came into the weekend looking for his first career CART Toyota Atlantic Championship race victory, got his weekend off to a solid start by turning in the fastest lap on the opening day of practice for Saturday's Milwaukee Mile Centennial 250 Presented by Miller Lite.
On his final lap of the day, Macri clocked a best lap of 24.902 seconds (149.193 mph), and knocked Sierra Sierra Enterprises' Ryan Dalziel (#28 Discovery Lake/Daily Record Newspaper) off the top of the time charts. As a result, Macri goes into Friday's qualifying session as the favorite to take the pole position, which would be the first of his career. However, if Thursday's practice session was any indication, virtually any driver could take the pole position in qualifying on Friday, as the entire field turned laps less than one second slower than Macri's fastest lap.
Dalziel wound up second on the day with a best lap of 25.018 seconds (148.501 mph), and is looking to start inside the top three positions for the second consecutive race after qualifying third in Long Beach last month. The Scot is working with a new teammate this weekend as 2001 CART Toyota Atlantic champion and '01 Milwaukee winner Hoover Orsi (#7 Pro-Works) has joined the team for this weekend's race, and Orsi's experience at the oval no doubt helped the team get off to a good start, as both cars were inside the top-three after the first session with Orsi first and Dalziel third.
However, while Dalziel was able to gain one position on the time charts in the second practice session, Orsi clocked the slowest speed of the second session, albeit just under one second slower than Macri's fastest speed. Nevertheless, the Brazilian managed to maintain fifth position on the combined time chart with a best lap of 25.107 seconds (147.975 mph) from the opening practice session.
Third quickest on Thursday was rookie A.J. Allmendinger (#4 RuSPORT), who acquitted himself well on his first day on an oval track by clocking a best lap of 25.046 seconds (148.335 mph). The Long Beach race winner finds himself deadlocked in a tie for second place in points with Macri, which makes coming to grips with the oval that much more important to his championship aspirations.
Turning in an impressive fourth-quickest time was second-year competitor Kyle Krisiloff (#31 U.S. Grand Prix Formula One) at 25.049 seconds (148.317 mph). Like Allmendinger, this is Krisiloff's first Toyota Atlantic event on an oval, and he also made the most of his first opportunity to run the legendary Milwaukee oval. This is also Krisiloff's first weekend as a member of Dorricott Racing-the defending series champions-and he definitely made a good first impression on the team on his first day.
Following Orsi on the combined chart was Team Rahal rookie Danica Patrick (#24 Argent Mortgage Company), who posted the fifth quickest lap in the second session and the sixth quickest lap overall at 25.124 seconds (147.875 mph). Patrick is another driver who is making her first oval appearance this weekend, and she rebounded quickly from turning the slowest speed in the field during the first practice session.
Points leader Michael Valiante (#19 Lynx Racing) was seventh on the day at 25.219 seconds (147.317 mph), followed by Pacific Coast Motorsports driver Alex Figge (#69 Patrick Racing/Pacific Coast Motorsports) at 25.240 seconds (147.195 mph), and Krisiloff's Dorricott Racing teammate Luis Diaz (#33 Telmex/Dorricott Racing) at 25.357 seconds (146.516 mph). Canadian Stephan C. Roy (#16 PlayStation2/MGD/Mexxsport) rounded out the top 10 at 25.407 seconds (146.227 mph), but was also the only driver to crash on Thursday as he spun exiting Turn 4, hit the inside wall, and did extensive damage to the right rear corner and rear wing of the car. Roy was not injured in the incident.
Friday's Toyota Atlantic schedule at The Milwaukee Mile calls for another 30-minute practice session beginning at 1:30 p.m. CT, and will be followed by the season's only single-car qualifying session at 6:15 p.m. Saturday's race day will see the Atlantic cars on track for a 15-minute warm-up session beginning at 12:45 p.m., and Round 3 of the 12-race 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship schedule, the Milwaukee Mile Centennial 250 Presented by Miller Lite, is scheduled to take the green flag at 5:00 p.m. CT.
Quotes from the day's top three drivers follow below:
* JONATHAN MACRI (#84 NTN): "The car, obviously today, we ended up with a really good car. This morning we were just really taking things easy. So, first mission accomplished. I guess this session we just took it slow again, built up the speed, and made a few changes and really, the car was good right at the beginning of the session. We ran in traffic a bit and got an idea of what it would do for the race. The time was just there, so we're looking forward to starting the race. We're praying for rain tonight, that's for sure. I think if we start on the pole, definitely it's going to be tough to stop us."
* RYAN DALZIEL (#28 Discovery Lake/Daily Record Newspaper): "To be honest, coming back here I was absolutely terrified. Last year was my first year on the ovals, and it's hard for a driver to come into an oval and fight a car that isn't going to be at the front. I was a little bit downhearted after last year's performances on them, so actually I wasn't looking forward to coming back, but Sierra Sierra had pretty much the race-winning car from last year, and it's amazing how different your familiarization becomes with the track. For me, I had so much fun in the first part of the session, I got in the car and pretty much said after 12 minutes I didn't see any point in continuing. We know the car is good, and we knew before we started this morning that the most important thing was to keep the car in one piece. We did that. We had a game plan that we didn't want to take too much of the push out of the car. As long as the car was safe, tomorrow is where it's all at. For us to finish here today, it's exactly what we had to plan. Sierra Sierra gave me a car that really was pretty much on the front row from the start, so we made small changes, and we're just being sensible and not doing anything silly."
* A.J. ALLMENDINGER (#4 RuSPORT): "In the first session, I thought it was real dusty. I don't know if that's typical here, I've never been here. Other than that, it was just-for me, never being on an oval-we were just taking small steps at a time, no big changes in the car. Fortunately, the car was pretty good right away in the first session, so we didn't have to make any big changes to try to make up for it. It's just been kind of plugging away, step-by-step, not making any big mistakes and getting myself in trouble early in the weekend. So far, so good, and hopefully we continue tomorrow."