Montreal: Friday qualifying notes

Dalziel Ties Fogarty for Atlantic Series Lead after Pacing First-round Qualifying in Montreal. MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada (August 27, 2004) -- It's taken Scottish racer Ryan Dalziel ( ...

Dalziel Ties Fogarty for Atlantic Series Lead after Pacing First-round Qualifying in Montreal.

MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada (August 27, 2004) -- It's taken Scottish racer Ryan Dalziel (#28 ProWorks) more than eight races and hundreds of miles of hard work in his Sierra Sierra Enterprises machine but after a solid performance in Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama first-round qualifying today, he's finally returned to the top of the series championship standings.

Dalziel, who won the Toyota Atlantic season opener at Long Beach and led the series title chase for the first two events of the season, recorded a fast time of 1:34.187 (103.543 mph) on his 13th lap at the circuit Gilles-Villeneuve road course to claim the provisional pole position for Sunday's Molson Indy Montreal Atlantic race (tape-delayed on SPEED Channel, Saturday, September 4 - 2 p.m. ET).

By leading today's qualifying, the 22-year-old driver secures a front-row starting spot for Sunday's race and, perhaps most importantly, he earns a championship point, allowing him to tie American rival Jon Fogarty (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Umbrella Entertainment) in the Atlantic season point standings with 261 markers apiece. Two races remain on the Atlantic schedule, including this weekend's event on the classic Montreal course.

After finishing on the podium in his only two series starts on the 2.709-mile track, Dalziel knew going into this weekend that he had the experience and speed to take control in his title battle with Fogarty. He backed it up on Friday by attacking the circuit from the beginning of qualifying and posting the day's quickest lap after facing pressure from his younger teammate, Andrew Ranger (#27 Tide/Charmin/Mr. Clean/Snugabye).

A native of nearby Roxton Pond, Quebec, Ranger is certainly the crowd favorite this weekend in Montreal as he races in front of his family and friends. Eager to get his first win in an Atlantic car in his most important race of the season, the 17-year-old Ranger ran well throughout the day and finished with the second-fastest lap in qualifying at 1:34.313 (103.405 mph).

While Dalziel will be shooting for his seventh pole of the season in final qualifying on Saturday, the Sierra Sierra team will also be chasing its second front-row qualifying sweep of the season. Dalziel won the pole and Ranger qualified second in Round 6 at Cleveland in a race that Dalziel would go on to win.

Fogarty had the third-fastest qualifying time today of 1:34.496 (103.204 mph) and he'll continue to try to fight off the Sierra Sierra storm and recapture the championship lead tomorrow with another bonus point available for the top runner tomorrow in the second-round of qualifying.

After consistently posting times among the top three drivers for both the morning practice session and qualifying, Danica Patrick (#24 Argent Mortgage Company) finished with the fourth-fastest lap of 1:34.929 (102.734 mph).

The time posted by Alex Figge (#69 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Umbrella Entertainment) of 1:34.957 (102.703 mph) was good enough for fifth in the Atlantic running order as he strives for his second consecutive front-row start after qualifying second in Denver two weeks ago.

Bryan Sellers (#19 Lynx Racing) owned a top lap of 1:35.143 (102.503 mph) for the sixth position in qualifying, while the latest winner in the series -- Ronnie Bremer (#4 Healthcare Privileges.com/PaySystems), who won Round 10 in Denver -- was seventh after posting a quick time of 1:35.343 (102.288 mph).

Rookie Chris Festa was clocked at 1:36.292 (101.279 mph) in eighth, while Montreal native Philip Fayer (#3 PaySystems) finished ninth in the rundown at 1:36.693 (100.859 mph). After a strong morning practice, rookie Josh Hunt (#15 Wright/Patton/Shakespeare/Atkinson Gore Group) rounded out the top 10 qualifying times with a lap of 1:36.792 (100.756 mph).

Saturday's action will see the Atlantic machines hit the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve course for a 30-minute morning practice session at 9:15 a.m. The grid for Sunday's 25-lap event will be determined with tomorrow's final round of qualifying, slated to get underway at 3 p.m. ET. Follow all of the action of the top open-wheel development series in North America at www.toyotaatlantic.com.

Quotes from the top three qualifiers from Friday follow:

RYAN DALZIEL (#28 ProWorks) (moved into a tie for the championship with Jon Fogarty with the bonus point for the provisional pole) "In the past two years, I have finished third and second. If it follows (that pattern), I should win this year. It's good we can both (he and Fogarty) start the weekend so close. I have been able to close the gap (behind Fogarty). I've gotten to the point, for me, every lap every weekend is a championship lap. We're trying to make every lap a perfect lap. We made just a couple of little changes (from the morning practice). I don't think it's me who's worked hard (to close the gap behind Fogarty), it's the team. At Sierra Sierra, every time we show up at the track, we are going for the win."

ANDREW RANGER (#27 Tide/Charmin/Mr. Clean/Snugabye) "It is big pressure for me (at home and with so many friends and family watching). I know this track and it's a pretty good track for me. At all the other tracks, I don't know them and have to learn. I'm happy to be here. We have one more (qualifying session) tomorrow and I really want the pole. My last couple of laps (in qualifying) I had a problem, probably my gear box. Every time I tried to down shift, it wouldn't take it."

JON FOGARTY (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Umbrella Entertainment) "This morning's session was obviously wet. We were just running laps (resulting in slower times) and waiting for the track to come to us. This afternoon (he sat out the early part of the session) we were trying to maximize our tires. Once (the car) came in (during the qualifying), it was reasonable, but we ran into some slower cars. But, we have one more session to go. There's room for improvement in the car. There's a question about the weather tomorrow. We'll have to hope it stays dry. Every point is obviously critical, but I'm (always) trying to be the quickest in each session. (The tight battle for the championship) is nerve-wracking, but that's what it's all about. We've had an ebb and flow (in performance). That's also part of a championship."

-ccws-

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Ryan Dalziel , Jon Fogarty , Alex Figge , Ronnie Bremer , Bryan Sellers , Andrew Ranger , Philip Fayer , Chris Festa , Josh Hunt , Danica Patrick