Valiante puts on the squeeze; wins provisional pole in Montreal. MONTREAL, Qc., (August 23, 2002) -- Michael Valiante (Lynx Racing Swift 014.a) took another step closer to the 2002 Championship by winning the provisional pole during Friday ...
Valiante puts on the squeeze; wins provisional pole in Montreal.
MONTREAL, Qc., (August 23, 2002) -- Michael Valiante (Lynx Racing Swift 014.a) took another step closer to the 2002 Championship by winning the provisional pole during Friday afternoon's qualifying in Montreal. The Canadian driver posted a time of 1:33.242 seconds (104.592 mph) to win the bonus point extending his Championship lead to 15 points over Jon Fogarty (Dorricott Racing (Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards Swift 014.a)
"I'm reasonably happy with getting the provisional pole and the point that goes with it considering that I never really put a lap together," said Valiante in the post session interview. "My crew and engineer, Rick Cameron, gave me an excellent car, although there's always room for improvement. The track was quite slippery at the start, like there was some oil put down by the champ cars, but once I got sway bars adjusted right, the car was easy to drive and I think there's a bit more time in it for tomorrow's qualifying. The track here changes quite a bit, so we'll need a different setup for tomorrow morning when it's cooler, but I think we have a good idea of which direction to go with the setup and we should be in good shape."
Valiante will be looking for his fourth win of the season and a sweep of the Canadian events in tomorrow afternoon's 27-lap race. Also, Valiante will be trying for Lynx Racing's third straight win on the 2.709-mile Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve.
Although Valiante and Lynx are the favorites going into tomorrow's 3:30 p.m. EST race, they will have their work cut out for them and most likely won't be able to dominate like they did last year. Right on their heels is Luis Diaz (Dorricott Racing/Telmex Swift 014.a) and Jon Fogarty. Diaz, who is coming of last weekend's win at Road America, posted a time of 1:33.333 seconds (104.490 mph) and was followed closely by Fogarty with a time of 1:33.394 seconds (104.422 mph). The two Dorricott drivers have accounted for half of the poles this season and will be looking to knock Valiante off the top spot in tomorrow morning's 9:00 a.m. EST qualifying session.
Ryan Hunter-Reay (Hylton Motorsports/Andor Capital Management/Medlock Ames Winery Swift 014.a) and Rocky Moran Jr. (Sigma Autosport Swift 014.a) rounded out the top five with times of 1:33.621 seconds (104.169 mph) and 1:33.693 seconds (104.089 mph).
As the session was entering its final minutes, Alex Garcia (Transnet Racing/Dixien Swift 014.a) slid off course in Turn 15 and hit the wall with the right side of his car. The ensuing red flag brought an end to qualifying just as most drivers were going for their fastest times of the session.
"I am really happy with this session," said Moran Jr. "Unfortunately, a red flag came out and ended the session on my best lap. That lap would have put me on the front row, but it did not count. So we are in great shape tomorrow and are looking to capture the pole."
Moran Jr. and the rest of the drivers in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship will get their chance bright and early tomorrow morning when final qualifying gets underway at 9:00 a.m. EST. Tomorrow afternoon's 3:30 p.m. EST race will be carried LIVE on Speed Channel.