Nazareth, Pa., (May 4, 2001) - With the thermometer approaching triple figures and Yokohama Tire engineers reporting track temperatures 20 degrees higher than the morning session, none of the CART Toyota Atlantic competitors could top the speed...
Nazareth, Pa., (May 4, 2001) - With the thermometer approaching triple figures and Yokohama Tire engineers reporting track temperatures 20 degrees higher than the morning session, none of the CART Toyota Atlantic competitors could top the speed Tony Ave (P-1 Racing/Miller Genuine Draft Swift) turned in earlier in the day. Rookie, Joey Hand (DSTP Motorsports/BG Products Swift) posted the fastest lap of the afternoon session but was only able to climb to fifth fastest overall in combined times.
Despite the heat, Ave remained the "hottest" Atlantic driver so far at Nazareth with the second fastest lap in the afternoon session. Ave's best lap was 144.858 mph (23.510 seconds), just off the lap run by Hand at 144.925 mph (23.499 seconds). The afternoon run by Ave was well short of the top lap he turned in this morning at 146.648 mph (23.223).
"It was a good session," said P-1 pilot, Tony Ave. "We were just getting ready to go out and blast the fast time, but someone had a problem. We didn't put stickers on, and we still ended up second, so we're still in the hunt." DSTP Motorsports driver, Joey Hand added, "The DSTP crew has been working really hard, and we've been making gains every session. We ran our fastest time this afternoon on the slowest racetrack we've had all weekend, so I feel good going into qualifying tomorrow."
The top four speeds turned in today were all run during the morning session when the weather was much cooler. The second fastest overall time still belongs to Brazil's, Hoover Orsi (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print Swift) with a speed of 146.522 mph (23.243 seconds). "We didn't do really well this afternoon," quoted a disappointed Orsi. "We made some changes that slowed us down, but this morning the car was running really well. All we have to do is make some small changes to the wings and we'll have a great car." Stephan Roy (P-1 Racing/Momo Swift) held on to the third spot at 145.551 mph (23.398 seconds) and Rodolfo Lavin (Michael Shank Racing/Corona Swift) stayed in fourth at 144.968 mph (23.492 seconds). Roy was pretty excited with his effort today. "This afternoon's session was a real surprise to me. I never expected to finish in the top-three all around. We were just going to try new things this afternoon. We weren't even going to try to put good laps on the track. The car is really excellent. I didn't push at all and we ended up third fastest which is a real surprise to me."
Hand was the only driver in the top-5 to improve his time from this morning as he took fifth, knocking Martin Basso (Michael Shank Racing/3b Engine Valves) down to sixth fastest overall. Basso did not complete any laps during this afternoon's session because of a contact incident that took place in the morning practice. The team expects to have the car ready for Saturday morning's practice session. "I caught someone's draft, hit the rev limiter, and the back of car just went and I hit the wall," said the Argentine driver. "It's too bad because just before I hit, I ran my fastest lap."
Friday afternoon's session was cut short by over 10 minutes due to two separate incidents. The first one took place four minutes into the session when Rocky Moran (Condor Motorsports/Ariba Swift) suffered transmission failure, dropping debris on the front stretch, retiring him from the session. The second incident ended the session early when Frank Dancs (Condor Motorsports/Ariba Swift) spun into the turn 4 wall making contact with the rear of the car. Dancs' car took major damage to the rear wing but he was uninjured in the incident.
Grant Ryley (Worldspeed Motorsports/Northwest Speedwerx Swift) led the time charts in yesterday's test sessions, but struggled today with the setup. "We had a good car, but not as good as yesterday," said Ryley. "We're still trying a few things to try to bring down those times."
The Atlantic teams return to practice on Saturday morning at 8:45 a.m. EST. Qualifying is set to start at 11:30 a.m. EST. Weather conditions are expected to be much cooler tomorrow with a chance of scattered rain showers.
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship is one of the world's premier open-wheel development series and a key rung on CART's "ladder system". It is also noted for its long history of graduating its stars into CART competition. Among the drivers who have graduated from the Atlantic Series are CART Champ Car stars Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser, Alex Barron, Memo Gidley, Patrick Carpentier, Alex Tagliani as well as former series champions Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan and Jacques Villeneuve.