TORONTO (July 13, 2001) -- For the fifth time this season, an existing track qualifying record as fallen in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship. David Rutledge (Lynx Racing Swift) put himself on the provisional pole today while breaking Andrew...
TORONTO (July 13, 2001) -- For the fifth time this season, an existing track qualifying record as fallen in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship. David Rutledge (Lynx Racing Swift) put himself on the provisional pole today while breaking Andrew Bordin's one year old track record with a time of 1:06.419 seconds (95.123 mph). The Nazareth track record was not threatened after qualifying was washed out and the field was set based on practice times.
Rutledge swapped the top spot on the time sheets in the final 1/3 of the session with Hoover Orsi (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print Swift). Orsi finished second in the session with a time of 1:06.633 seconds (94.818 mph), followed by Joey Hand (DSTP Motorsports/BG Products) with a time of 1:06.849 seconds (94.512 mph). Orsi and Hand were also under the pre-existing track record.
"Man, what a great car," said a stoked David Rutledge. The Vancouver driver stands two points behind Orsi in the Championship heading into tomorrow's race. "The track was better than this morning and we made a few adjustments during the session that really brought the car to top form. There's more left in it, and if the weather holds, we'll be going quicker tomorrow. Setting the car up to handle under trail braking into the turns seems to be the key, and we'll explore that more tomorrow."
Orsi, who has started second three times this season already, is looking for his first career pole. "It was a good session. We changed the car a little bit from practice, but it wasn't a good change. The track should be quicker in the morning and we'll have a shot at the pole. We'll try and change the car a little bit more and find some balance to have a chance at the pole tomorrow."
If Rutledge can hold onto the pole during tomorrow's final qualifying session, he stands a good chance of winning Saturday afternoon's 35-lap race. All of Rutledge's three career wins (Montreal 2000 & 2001, Long Beach 2001) came from the pole.
The session was stopped one time, early in the session after Jonathan Macri (P-1 Racing/Miller Genuine Draft Swift) made contact with the turn 8 tire wall, causing damage to the left rear suspension and wing. Macri was uninjured in the incident but had to retire from the session. Turn 8 also ended the day for Charles Hall (Duesenberg Brothers Racing/Western Union First Data Swift) when he contacted the same wall as Macri breaking the left front suspension. Hall was able to get the car to the pits to keep the session under green flag conditions.
Rocky Moran Jr. (Cobb Racing Swift) did not take part in the session after this morning's practice accident in turn 6. The team continued work on the car and expects to be ready for Saturday morning's qualifying session that starts at 8:45 a.m. EST. Moran was quickest in the morning session before the contact incident. "The car was awesome. The balance, grip and preparation were perfect. We needed some fine-tuning, but I wanted to stay out for the track time. I thought there might be a flag but I didn't think it would be me," laughed Moran.
The final qualifying session of the weekend that will set the field for Round 6 of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship takes place tomorrow morning at 8:45 A.M. EST. The 35-lap event gets under way on Saturday as well at 3:15 P.M. EST.
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship is one of the world's premier open-wheel development series and a key rung on CART's "ladder system". It is also noted for its long history of graduating its stars into CART competition. Among the drivers who have graduated from the Atlantic Series are CART Champ Car stars Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser, Alex Barron, Memo Gidley, Patrick Carpentier, Alex Tagliani as well as former series champions Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan and Jacques Villeneuve.