Fogarty Leads Friday Atlantic Qualifying in Toronto TORONTO, Ontario, Canada (July 9, 2004) -- After seeing his point lead dwindle to three in the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama, Jon Fogarty ( ...
Fogarty Leads Friday Atlantic Qualifying in Toronto
TORONTO, Ontario, Canada (July 9, 2004) -- After seeing his point lead dwindle to three in the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama, Jon Fogarty (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports) knew he had little margin for error on the tight Toronto streets this weekend.
Fogarty held nothing back and attacked the first day on track at the Molson Indy, pacing the morning practice session and then leading the first round of qualifying to earn a championship point and extending his slim lead in series title chase.
The 2002 Toyota Atlantic Champion got a clear lap on fresh tires relatively early in the 30-minute qualifying session, posting a time of 1:06.509 (94.995 mph) on his sixth lap that no one was able to seriously threaten. The effort secures Fogarty a front row starting spot for Sunday's Argent Mortgage Toyota Atlantic Championship of Toronto Presented by Yokohama (tape-delayed on SPEED Channel, Saturday, July 17 -- 11 a.m. ET) and it widens his gap to 150-146 over Ryan Dalziel (#28 ProWorks), his closest pursuer in a tight championship race.
The driver who had the best shot at Fogarty's time was rookie Ronnie Bremer (#4 PaySystems), who turned in his best provisional qualifying effort of the season in his second race for the Polestar Racing Group. Bremer owned a top lap of 1:06.682 (94.748 mph), despite fighting an understeer problem on his machine for most of the day, to finish second in the session.
Another fast freshman thrilled the crowd of 41,000 plus at Toronto's Exhibition Place, but he waited until the very last second to do it. Quebec native Andrew Ranger (#27 Tide/Charmin/Mr. Clean/Snugabye) played a different strategy in qualifying and in the end it paid off. Both Ranger and Dalziel, his teammate at Sierra Sierra Enterprises, waited until qualifying was nearly half way over before they got after it in earnest. Both drivers continued to drop their times as the clock ticked down on the session and Dalziel moved as high as third on the scoring sheets. Ranger was able to post one last flying lap before seeing the checkered flag and he made it count, carding the third-fastest time at 1:06.799 (94.582 mph). The effort knocked his teammate out of the top three but the Canadian contingent was happy to see one of their own among the front runners.
Dalziel's time of 1:06.819 (94.554 mph) left him fourth in the opening-round of qualifying. Finishing fifth in the session was Alex Figge (#69 Pacific Coast Motorsports), Fogarty's teammate, with a best time of 1:06.915 (94.418 mph) as the last driver in the 1:06 range.
After grabbing a career-best finish of second last week in Cleveland, Bryan Sellers (#19 Lynx Racing) was sixth in qualifying, posting a time of 1:07.196 (94.023 mph). Rahal-Letterman Racing's Danica Patrick (#24 Argent Mortgage Company) was seventh in the rundown at 1:07.647 (93.397 mph).
Three series rookies occupied the 8-10 spots in Friday qualifying. Australian driver Josh Hunt (#15 Wright/Patton/Shakespeare/Atkinson Gore Group) was eighth with a time of 1:07.654 (93.387 mph) while Jonathan Bomarito (#8 Dixien/Omnisource), the leader in the 2004 BG Products Rookie of the Year award entering the weekend, wound up ninth at 1:07.897 (93.053 mph). Chris Festa (#25 SpacePak/CareCentric) completed the top 10 on the day with a mark of 1:08.276 (92.536 mph).
Two Canadians finished in the 11th and 12th spots, respectively, on their home soil. Montreal's Philip Fayer (#3 PaySystems) had a best time of 1:09.047 (91.503 mph) while Eric Jensen (#2 Penn Capital/Konica Minolta) of Newcastle, Ontario recorded a top lap of 1:09.444 (90.980 mph).
On Saturday, Fogarty will look to claim the final pole while the rest of the talented Atlantic field will be aiming to knock him off. The 45-minute final qualifying session will get underway at 12:30 p.m. ET. Sunday's race, scheduled for 35 laps or 50 minutes, is set for a 10:30 a.m. ET green flag.
Quotes from the top three qualifiers from Friday follow:
JON FOGARTY (#96 Pacific Coast Motorsports): "It was a good lap for us. I was up front coming out of pit lane and I let the two Sierra Sierra cars get a good gap on me so I could have some clear running and just take advantage of my tires and that's a big part of where the time came from -- just being good on the fresh rubber. Once we set that time we came in and waited, we didn't want to use our tires too bad and it felt like the car was starting to go off a little bit so we came in and made a few changes and waited to see what the track conditions appeared to be doing. The car's pretty consistent throughout a run but it was fortunate that we got a good lap and that Pacific Coast Motorsports has given me a good car. (On securing the front row starting spot) Being up front on a street circuit is very important and, in general, in the Atlantic series it's important. We'll see what the weather does tomorrow and we'll see if we can get a little more speed out of the car."
RONNIE BREMER (#4 PaySystems): "I was struggling during the whole session with understeer. I came in a couple of times and tried to change it but it actually got worse and worse, but I was getting better and better on the circuit at the same time. I think I've got a little more left, because I wasn't quite happy with the car. This is my best qualifying session so far and Polestar (Racing Goup) has given me a pretty good car, but I honestly think the tires aren't where they should be or maybe we just didn't have the time to set it up the way it should be."
ANDREW RANGER (#27 Tide/Charmin/Mr. Clean/Snugabye): "I tried a new strategy in this session. We waited a long, long time in the pits. Then, I did a couple of laps to try and waited for my tires to come in a little bit. I pushed very hard to do a quick change in the car but I think Jon (Fogarty) did a great lap because, here in Toronto the track is very bumpy. I changed my line a little bit on my last lap and I knew the car was better. I did my best lap on my last lap and I think my team gave me a great car for this session."