Road America: Saturday qualifying report

CONTINUED DOMINANCE FOR TONIS KASEMETS AS HE OWNS FINAL ROUND OF ATLANTIC ROAD AMERICA QUALIFYING FOR THIRD SERIES POLE ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin (August 20, 2005) -- No one said it better than second-year Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by...


ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin (August 20, 2005) -- No one said it better than second-year Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama driver Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK Ind./TMI/Redline Oil) Saturday after he dominated the final round of qualifying at Road America. "The only one who can beat me this weekend is me," said Kasemets, who earned his third series pole position after blistering a lap of 2:01.747 (119.697 mph).

So how dominant has Kasemets been so far this weekend in the Toyota Atlantic Grand Prix of Road America (tape-delayed broadcast on SPEED Channel -- Saturday, August 27 at 2 p.m. ET)? So dominant that he has led every session through first two days on track at the 14-turn, 4.048-mile road course and none of the other 16 drivers in the Atlantic field this weekend were able to equal his best time from Friday's first round of qualifying, let alone today's session. On Saturday, no other drivers were within half-a-second of Kasemets' fast mark.

Last year, Kasemets established a new track record race lap for the Atlantic series at Road America, finishing fifth for his top result of the year. The driver that has either broke down or spun while fighting for the top position in each of the last two races will hold his own fate in his hands on Sunday as he tries to stay alive in the championship chase and bring home his third victory of the season when he starts from the point.

Andreas Wirth (#8 Wurges Windows and Doors) of Germany carded the second-fastest time in Friday qualifying and he once again valiantly pursued Kasemets only to finish as qualifying runner up on Saturday. Wirth's top lap of 2:02.330 (119.127 mph) will enable him to start second tomorrow as he earns his fourth front-row start of his rookie season. Wirth, currently raked second in the series standings, also started second last Sunday in Denver as he grabbed the lead at the green flag on his way to first series victory.

Saturday also brought an impressive result for rookie Daniel Di Leo (#54 Armsup Motorsports), making his Atlantic debut this weekend. Di Leo, who finished fourth in the 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series event at Road America and was third at the venue last year in the Star Mazda Series, qualified third with a quick time of 2:02.671 (118.796 mph).

Also driving well in his series debut, local boy Bobby Wilson (#5 Ocala Gran Prix/BW Race Schools) of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin qualified with the fourth-fastest time of the day. The 23-year-old Wilson, who is racing at Road America for the seventh time in his young career among various racing series, clocked in at 2:02.774 (118.696 mph).

Recovering from an on-track excursion that ended her Friday qualifying run early, rookie Katherine Legge (#12 PKV Racing) earned a fifth-place starting spot today when she posted a top time of 2:02.871 (118.602 mph).

David Martinez (#7 Roshfrans/US RaceTronics) was unable to duplicate his qualifying results from Friday when he wound up third in the provisional qualifying order. The talented Mexican racer posted a time of 2:03.131 (118.352 mph) as he finished sixth in final qualifying.

Series points leader Charles Zwolsman (#11 Condor Motorsports), who carried a 34-point lead in the championship and could wrap up the title if he leaves Road America with a 35-point cushion, continued his weekend-long struggles on Saturday. He was ninth in Friday qualifying and wound up seventh in the final order with a top lap of 2:03.183 (118.302 mph). The result breaks a string of 10 consecutive top-three qualifying efforts for the Dutch rookie.

Finishing eighth in Saturday's rundown with his worst qualifying result of the season was Polestar Racing Group driver Antoine Bessette (#3 Unik Auto Design). Bessette turned in a time 2:03.604 (117.899 mph). Al Unser III (#10 Racing) wound up ninth in qualifying at 2:03.606 (117.897 mph) while local racer Chris Prey (#2 Gehl Company) of Oshkosh, Wisconsin closed out the top 10 qualifiers with a lap of 2:03.830 (117.684 mph).

The Atlantic machines will first see the track on Sunday morning for a 15-minute warmup session beginning at 8:40 a.m. Central Time. Round 11 of the Atlantic championship is set to begin at 12 p.m. with the race scheduled for 17 laps (68.816 miles) or 50 minutes. Follow all of Sunday's action from Road America at through the live Timing link.


Kasemets claimed the $1,000 Toyota pole award for leading today's final round of qualifying.

Daryl Leiske (#63 Speedway Motors) of Bite Racing earned a bonus point for posting the fastest time among the C2 competitors this weekend with a lap of 2:05.944 (115.709 mph) that put him 14th overall.

Legge's effort on Saturday marked her sixth top-five qualifying effort this season. All six of those results have come in the last seven races.

Quotes from the top three drivers from today's final round of qualifying follow:

TONIS KASEMETS (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK ind./TMI/Redline Oil) -- Dan Cobb Racing/Team Tonis: "I know this place so well. After the Toronto race, my engineer unleashed me. We've been having some bad luck. I need to try to figure out how not to beat myself. The rest, I have no control over. I just need to drive the race car. If you're not committed 110 percent, it's like a jungle out there, you need to kill the animal or it will kill you. I know every part of this race track, I know what the car does at every corner, I know what to fix on the car. I know this place. (On his tradition of partying and marital relations with his wife when racing at Road America) Since 2001, we've been going to (local bar and restaurant) Siebkens to party - it's part of Road America, a nice place. Good people, great fun. We'll go to Siebkens tonight and I will have sex."

ANDREAS WIRTH (#8 Wurges Windows and Doors) - Brooks Associates Racing: "I'm happy to start of the front row. I'm not happy that Tonis is so far away from us. I need to work with my engineer to find more in the car for tomorrow. I'll do my best tomorrow, but if I finish behind Tonis, on his home track, I'll be happy. It doesn't mean I don't want to win. If Tonis has a good start, I won't try to get around him on the start. I will try to get as many points as possible. We'll see what happens."

DANIEL DI LEO (#54 Armsup Motorsports) -- Armsup Motorsports: "I'm a rookie. I'm very grateful for the opportunity. Armsup has been good to me. I have lots of racing knowledge, but no Atlantic experience. The balance in the car is excellent. Our job is to make the car go fast. I was surprised we were fast, right out of the gate. The guys did a professional job. Here, it will be important to get a good draft. Starting third is where we want to be."


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Series Atlantic
Drivers Katherine Legge , David Martinez , Antoine Bessette , Charles Zwolsman , Tonis Kasemets , Andreas Wirth , Dan Cobb , Bobby Wilson , Al Unser III
Teams HART