San Jose: Saturday qualifying notes

CHARLES ZWOLSMAN TURNS IT ON LATE IN SAN JOSE QUALIFYING TO CLAIM FIFTH TOYOTA ATLANTIC POLE POSITION SAN JOSE, California (July 30, 2005) -- Taking advantage of others mistakes are sometimes a part of racing and Toyota Atlantic ...

CHARLES ZWOLSMAN TURNS IT ON LATE IN SAN JOSE QUALIFYING TO CLAIM FIFTH TOYOTA ATLANTIC POLE POSITION

SAN JOSE, California (July 30, 2005) -- Taking advantage of others mistakes are sometimes a part of racing and Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama series points leader Charles Zwolsman (#11 Condor Motorsports) was there to pounce when his chief rival for the Atlantic crown stumbled on Saturday.

Zwolsman, the 26-year-old native of the Netherlands, earned his fifth career Atlantic pole position and established a new course record on the 1.448-mile San Jose street circuit when he recorded a fast lap of 1:02.657 (83.196 mph) in the final round of qualifying for Sunday's Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose (tape-delayed broadcast on SPEED Channel -- Saturday, August 6 at 1:30 p.m. ET)

After leading the opening round of qualifying Friday at the new downtown street circuit, second-year driver Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK Ind./TMI/Redline Oil) looked poised for a qualifying sweep as he led the session and was continuing to set the pace for the other 20 drivers in the circuit. About halfway through qualifying, however, Kasemets made contact with the wall in Turn 4, bringing out a red flag. Kasemets was penalized for stopping qualifying as he lost his fast lap time and he wasn't able to continue to try and fight for the pole with the damage to his car. Kasemets ended the day with a best lap of 1:02.854 (82.935 mph).

With his chief rival in the Atlantic championship chase on the sideline, Zwolsman saw his opportunity. The Dutch driving sensation moved to the top of the timing sheets with just three minutes remaining in qualifying, and when C2 driver Dan Cobb (#9 Camelot Construction) hit the wall just a few seconds later, bringing out a red flag and checkered flag to end the session a few minutes early, Zwolsman secured yet another pole in his impressive rookie season.

The result was particularly frustrating for Kasemets as the Estonian-born racer had closed to with 14 points of Zwolsman in the title hunt after his performance on Friday. Zwolsman earned back the bonus point today with the pole and now leads Kasemets 217-202 in the series point standings.

The saving grace for Kasemets is that he will still start on the front row next to Zwolsman in Sunday's race, by virtue of his provisional polewinning effort from Friday. This will mark the fifth time that Zwolsman and Kasemets will start together on the front row this season.

After leading the qualifying session before Zwolsman's late rally, Mexico's David Martinez (#7 Roshfrans/US RaceTronics) finished with the second fastest time of the day at 1:02.693 (83.148 mph) and will start third in tomorrow's race. The qualifying effort is the best for Martinez since Round 7 when he qualified second and wound up finishing second in Toronto on the last true street circuit on the series calendar.

With two wins under her belt this season, British racing phenom Katherine Legge (#12 PKV Racing) will start among the top five for the second consecutive race as she will line up fourth tomorrow after clocking in at 1:02.943 (82.818 mph). Legge won in Edmonton last time out after starting third on the grid.

Rookie Kyle Kelley (#24 UP Racing.com) earned his third top-five starting position in his five Atlantic races this season for his McAtee Motorsports team. Kelley produced a top time Saturday of 1:03.263 (82.399 mph).

For the first time in nine events, rookie Antoine Bessette (#3 Unik Auto Design) failed to qualify among the top five drivers in the series. The Polestar Racing Group driver will start sixth after his top time today of 1:03.263 (82.399 mph).

Experiencing his first taste of Atlantic competition this weekend, Orange, Califonia's Alan Scuito (#27 Deans R/C Products/Sparco) followed up his strong seventh-place finish in the first round of qualifying with another seventh-place result Saturday. The 17-year-old racer checked in with a best lap of 1:03.367 (82.264 mph).

Andreas Wirth (#8 Wurges Windows and Doors) of Germany also saw his streak of top qualifying efforts fall by the wayside as he finished eighth in the qualifying rundown with a fast time of 1:03.379 (82.248 mph). California rookie Phil Giebler (#41 Jos. J Albanese Concrete Construction), also seeing his first Atlantic action this weekend, had a lap of 1:03.795 (81.712 mph) and will start ninth. Albuquerque, New Mexico native Al Unser III (#10 BOSPoker.net/PKV Racing) was timed at 1:03.919 (81.553 mph) and will line up 10th on Sunday.

A 15-minute practice session will greet the Atlantic machines on Sunday morning followed by Round 9 of 12 in the Atlantic series. The green flag is set to fly at San Jose at 11:15 a.m. PT and the race is scheduled for 45 laps (65.16 miles) or 50 minutes. Follow all of tomorrow's action live through the Timing link on the series official web site, www.toyotaatlantic.com.

ATLANTIC QUALIFYING NOTES

* Champ Car and Atlantic officials announced the 2006 Atlantic formula, featuring a new Swift chassis design and a Cosworth engine, at a press conference in San Jose today. A new Champ Car Atlantic incentive plan was also announced that will call for a $2 million bonus to be awarded to the '06 Atlantic champion.

* San Jose native Grant Ryley, seeing his first Atlantic action this weekend since the 2002 season finale, qualified 11th today for Jensen Motorsport with a time of 1:04.280 (81.095 mph). * Charles Zwolsman has now claimed four consecutive poles in Atlantic competition this season.

* A crowd of 50,962 fans were in attendance at the San Jose circuit today, bringing the two-day total for the first year event to 91,396.

Quotes from the top three drivers from today's qualifying session follow:

CHARLES ZWOLSMAN (#11 Condor Motorsports): "I was a little worried during the session because Tonis was running fast times and I was not happy with my car. But we changed tires and we made a few changes on the car during the first red flag. When we went back out, we had a clear lap and, even though I was still not happy with the car, I went for it and took the pole. (On his strategy for the race) It is like any other race. I will try to stay up front. (On the changes on the track) The changes were minor but they did not do any good for me because the added corners are slow and I like fast corners better. (On the 2006 season) I have never seen such a good incentive program for the drivers. It is great! I just hope I won't need it because I will already be in Champ Car next year!"

TONIS KASEMETS (#6 Flexovit Abrasive Prods/MK/TMI/Red Line Oil -- Dan Cobb Racing/Team Tonis):"The car was absolutely perfect. My driving was 99% fast and 1% error. Everything was fantastic until I made my mistake. We went for pole. We were hunting it down but I made a mistake because I was pushing too hard and I overdid it. But I will overcome my disappointment and I'll be ready to go fast tomorrow. The car will be fixed for tomorrow. It is a matter of writing checks and buying parts (Joking). (On the race) I feel comfortable sharing the front row with Charles. It is going to be long race and we'll see what happens. (On today's announcement on the future of the Atlantic series) It is fantastic but I want to be in Champ Car by next year. I am getting to old for Atlantic (laughing)"

DAVID MARTINEZ (#7 Roshfrans/US Race Tronics -- US Race Tronics): "They made changes on the track but we did not change anything on the car. We had a good session, and surprisingly, we did not get any traffic. I ran a few fast laps towards the end and I am satisfied with third position. (On the start) The inside is a good starting position. I really want to win I will go for it. (On his season so far) We had a hard year because we did not have much testing and the team did not have any base for the set ups. This year we found something that works in street courses and next year will be better on the fast tracks. (On overtaking opportunities) There are not many places for passing. But it will be a long race and the track is really bumpy which makes a lot of room for mistakes. (On today's announcement) Everybody is going to fight for an opportunity in Champ Car. It is going to attract many drivers from all around the world. It is very exciting for us!"

-atlantic-

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Series Atlantic
Drivers Grant Ryley , Kyle Kelley , David Martinez , Antoine Bessette , Charles Zwolsman , Tonis Kasemets , Phil Giebler , Andreas Wirth , Dan Cobb , Al Unser III