Montreal: Friday qualifying notes

MEXICO'S DAVID MARTINEZ SETS ROAD RULES, LEADING OPENING-ROUND OF ATLANTIC MONTREAL QUALIFYING MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada (August 26, 2005) -- It may have taken awhile, but David Martinez ( ...


MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada (August 26, 2005) -- It may have taken awhile, but David Martinez (#7 Roshfrans/US RaceTronics) and his US RaceTronics seem to have figured this road course thing out.

The promising, young Mexican racer has run well on street circuits this season in the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama, but consistent speed on road courses has somehow eluded the rookie and his first-year team. After apparently solving the puzzle with a solid third-place finish last week at the long and challenging Road America road course, Martinez continued to show his skills Friday, leading the opening-round of qualifying for the Molson Indy Montreal Atlantic race (tape-delayed broadcast on SPEED Channel -- Saturday, September 3 at 9 p.m. ET). Martinez put up a top lap of 1:35.084 (102.566 mph) on his 16th turn around the 2.709-mile Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve road circuit to lead qualifying for the 12th and final round of the 2005 Atlantic series.

The effort marked the first time that Martinez has led a qualifying session this season and he'll try to back up that effort as he strives for his first series pole position in the final round of qualifying on Saturday. For winning the provisional pole, Martinez locked up a front-row starting spot for Sunday's 25-lap season finale and he also earned a championship point to boost his total to 211 on the season as he remains sixth in the standings.

Trying to do everything possible this weekend to improve his standing on the championship leaderboard, Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK Ind./TMI/Redline Oil) fell short of the top of the charts, but he managed to record the second-fastest time of the day at 1:35.277 (102.358 mph). Kasemets entered the weekend trailing series leader Charles Zwolsman (#11 Continental Cartage/Condor Motorsports) by 26 points in the race for the '05 Atlantic crown. Kasemets desperately needs to earn every possible point available this weekend in order to threaten Zwolsman for the title, and even if he could earn all 35 points out there for the taking, he'd still need the talented Dutchman to struggle on race day. By not earning the point for the top spot in Friday qualifying, Kasemets' task grows even tougher this weekend.

Local Atlantic favorite Antoine Bessette (#3 Unik Auto Design/Gouin Leblanc C.A./Services de Courtage Lessard) had a strong opening-day of action at Montreal. The native of St. Bruno, Quebec, carded the third-fastest qualifying lap of 1:35.904 (101.689 mph). The result was a credit to the entire Polestar Racing Group team as the squad worked hard all week to repair damage to Bessette's car from a late-race accident last weekend at Road America.

Polestar's other top racing rookie, Katherine Legge (#12 PKV Racing), ran well in her first racing experience at Montreal. Legge, a three-time winner in the Atlantic series this season, wound up fourth in qualifying with a time of 1:35.970 (101.619 mph).

Zwolsman, on the cusp of the series championship behind three wins and eight podiums this season, finished fifth in the qualifying order as he was clocked at 1:36.438 (101.126 mph). Al Unser III (#10 Racing) started the weekend strong with a solid performance in morning practice, followed by a good qualifying result. Unser's top time of 1:36.514 (101.046 mph) was good enough for sixth in the opening round of qualifying.

Rookie Kyle Kelley (#24 UP was seventh with a lap of 1:36.876 (100.669 mph), while Canadian owner/driver Eric Jensen (#2 Konica Minolta/Gehl Company) clocked in at 1:38.482 (99.027 mph). Dan Selznick (#49 The Room Store) owned a fast lap of 1:38.840 (98.669 mph) and Chris Souliotis (#56 Speedway Motors) completed the top-10 qualifying times at 1:40.646 (96.898 mph).

After returning to the track on Saturday morning for a 30-minute practice session at 9:15 a.m. ET, the final grid for Sunday's race will be set during the final round of qualifying tomorrow afternoon with the session beginning at 1:15 p.m. Follow all of this weekend's action from Montreal at through the live Timing link.


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Series Atlantic
Drivers Katherine Legge , Eric Jensen , Kyle Kelley , David Martinez , Antoine Bessette , Charles Zwolsman , Tonis Kasemets , Daniel Selznick , Al Unser III