He will not win the Champ Car Atlantic championship, but 2007 Rookie-of-the-Year Franck Perera continues to be a force to be reckoned with. In the final points race of the year, Perera has been at the top of the pylon in each session but one - the...
He will not win the Champ Car Atlantic championship, but 2007 Rookie-of-the-Year Franck Perera continues to be a force to be reckoned with. In the final points race of the year, Perera has been at the top of the pylon in each session but one - the lone exception yesterday's first-round qualifying when 16-year-old phenom John Edwards set a track record and took the provisional pole.
Today Perera eclipsed that, becoming the first and only driver to dip into the 1:58 range. Having been one of a number of luminaries in the Newman/Haas/Lanigan Champ Car pit on Friday, Perera is making his case for advancing into the top series next year. His time today was four-tenths quicker than Edwards' one day ago.
"It was a tough session, and a long track but everyone needs a gap," Perera commented. "I was first on pit lane, and on used tires I had a good gap. It is so difficult to find a gap, because everyone wants to slipstream to get a better lap."
Edwards was unable to improve on his Friday time and was only 13th in the session, but no matter as he was guaranteed a front-row starting spot anyway. This represents his best chance to take his first win; his best finish this year was, ironically, second to Perera in the rain-drenched round in Toronto.
"We knew we were on the front row, so we tried to make the car quicker," Edwards noted. "But what we tried didn't work. The track temps were up a lot (from yesterday), and I couldn't improve the last ten minutes."
Jonathan Bomarito came third, another good result following on his victory in San Jose. He is the defending champion of this race and looks to win one where his triumph is not overshadowed by a driver clinching the series championship.
"It was a good session," Bomarito said. "We got closer to Franck with each session, and were only about a tenth off. On my in-lap I was quicker, I was quicker, like a 57.9, but I caught traffic. With 24 cars, you're going to hit traffic. It's good to be starting third."
Making the biggest leap of the day was Carl Skerlong in his U.S. RaceTronics entry. Suffering from a rash of problems on Friday and only 22nd on the provisional grid, the team made some adjustments and the native of just outside Seattle leapt to fourth place. He had only qualified within the top ten twice the last seven races, starting fifth at both races in Edmonton.
Completing the top-five is young but experienced Alan Sciuto, already making his third Atlantic series start at this track. Consistently he has worked his way to seventh in points heading into the weekend, and looks to score his first podium finish of the season as both an owner/driver.
The entire top ten dipped below a lap time of two minutes. After the top five the remainder of the grid includes Adrian "Ace" Carrio, Simona De Silvestro, Kevin Lacroix, 2007 series champion Raphael Matos and Ryan Lewis.
Tomorrow's season-finale Atlantic round will roll off from a standing start at 11:45 local time. There is over a three-month break before a non-points round that was added to the schedule in Phoenix in December.