Portland: Race two qualifying notes



PORTLAND, Oregon (June 18, 2005) -- Estonian racer Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK ind./TMI/Redline Oil) has always been a fan of drivers who were able to raise their game in the clutch. The 31-year-old driver for Dan Cobb Racing/Team Tonis demonstrated that he also has the ability to produce in crunch time Saturday morning when he recorded the top time in qualifying for Sunday's BOSPoker.com Atlantic Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway.

After three red-flag caution periods for drivers going off-course basically cut in half the 30-minute morning qualifying session, Kasemets and the rest of the Atlantic field were left with just two minutes to try and post a quick lap on the 1.964-mile circuit. After damaging his car's rear wing when he veered off course early in the session, Kasemets returned to the track with a vengeance and recorded an impressive time of 1:09.152 (102.244 mph) on his ninth and final lap before the checkered flag flew to end an eventful qualifying. The performance earned the driver, who now resides in Mundelein, Illinois, his first career Atlantic pole position in his 10th series race.

Atlantic rookies Kyle Kelley (#24 UP Racing.com/T. Christy) and Charles Zwolsman (#11 Condor Motorsports) also showed the ability to get up to speed quickly as they each posted their fast laps after seeing the green lag for the final time with just two minutes remaining in the session. Kelley, who had his best series qualifying on Friday when he posted the third-fastest time for this afternoon's first race of the weekend at PIR, surpassed that effort with a second-place qualifying run this morning. Kelley's lap of 1:09.259 (102.086 mph) will enable him to line up second for tomorrow's second half of the Atlantic weekend doubleheader.

After qualifying second on Friday for today's race, Zwolsman -- the Atlantic series leader -- will start third tomorrow after he clocked a quick lap of 1:09.581 (101.614 mph) on his final lap while he was running on new tires. After winning his first series race in Round 2 at Monterrey, Mexico, Zwolsman will carry a six-point advantage in the championship entering this weekend's races.

Germany's Andreas Wirth (#8 Wurges Windows and Doors) claimed his first Atlantic pole on Friday, starting on the point for this afternoon's race. The talented 20-year-old racer owned the top time for most of this morning's qualifying for Race #2 as well before Kasemets, Kelley and Zwolsman turned in their quick times on their final laps. Wirth wound up fourth in the order with a best lap of 1:09.810 (101.281 mph).

Antoine Bessette of St. Bruno, Quebec, Canada equaled his qualifying results from Friday as he recorded the fifth-fastest lap this morning with a time of 1:10.049 (100.945 mph). Al Unser III (#10 BOSPoker.net/PKV Racing) enjoyed his best qualifying among his six Atlantic events. The 22-year-old racer will start sixth on Sunday after he was timed at 1:11.074 (99.479 mph) on the track where his father -- Al Unser Jr. -- earned his first Champ Car victory in 1984.

Established road racer Chris Dyson (#16 Thetford/Norcold) had a quick lap of 1:11.130 (99.401 mph) for the seventh-fastest time while David Martinez (#7 Roshfrans/Aviacsa/RocaAcero/Multigama/Martiga) of Mexico lost his fastest lap after causing one of the red flags in the session but still wound up eighth with a time of 1:11.438 (98.973 mph).

After leading all C2 competitors in Friday qualifying for today's race, Woodinville, Washington native Lee Atkins (#48 Advanced Medical, Inc.) once again had the fastest time in the class, and was ninth quick overall Saturday morning at 1:13.238 (96.540 mph). Currently tied for second in series points, Katherine Legge (#12 PKV Racing) of Great Britain followed up a seventh-place effort in qualifying Friday by rounding out the top 10 for Sunday's race with a best lap of 1:13.347 (96.397 mph).

The first Atlantic race of the weekend here at Portland will take the green flag at 12:45 p.m. PT this afternoon while Sunday's race will start at 10 a.m. PT. Follow all of the action of this weekend's races live through the Timing link on the series' official web site www.toyotaatlantic.com. Both races can also be seen on tape delay on SPEED Channel on Saturday, June 25 beginning at 2 p.m. ET.


* Kasemets claimed the $1,000 Toyota pole award for leading today's round of qualifying. He also earned a championship point for winning the pole and he remains fourth in the standings, now with 44 points on the year.

* Atkins earned C2 championship points for pacing both Friday's qualifying and today's round at Portland and he now boasts 21 markers on the season and is tied with Bob Siska for sixth in the battle for the 2005 Yokohama Tire C2 Cup.

Quotes from the top three qualifiers from today's session follow:

TONIS KASEMETS (Flexovit Abrasive Prods/MK/TMI/Red Line Oil -- Dan Cobb Racing/Team Tonis): "I made a mistake in the first part of the session and damaged my rear wing. It was luck to me that we could fix the car and go back out. My radio guy said that I had only one lap, so I put it together. I did not have new tires for my fastest lap. Actually I had the set that went into the grass when I had contact, but I did not get any traffic and I went as hard as I could."

KYLE KELLEY (UPracing.com/T. Christy -- McAtee Motorsports): "This morning's qualifying session was a little bit cool and we had some difficulties to get the tires up to temperature. I did not think I was going to be able to be that quick at the end of the session but it turned out to be a good lap. It definitely helps that I have been here before."

CHARLES ZWOLSMAN (Condor Motorsports): "It was quite tough to deal with all these red flags because I had three sets of new tires to run during this session. On my first sets I was blocked by the cars in front of me, but luckily at the last minute I managed to put in a quick lap. I thought it was going to be difficult to run a fast lap with only two minutes to go in the session because usually the tires take more time to get in to. I gave it all in the last lap and I made soma small mistakes because the tires had not enough grip yet, and we settled for third."


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Series Atlantic
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Katherine Legge , Bob Siska , Kyle Kelley , Antoine Bessette , Tonis Kasemets , Andreas Wirth , Lee Atkins , Dan Cobb , Chris Dyson , Al Unser III