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Trois-Rivieres: Saturday qualifying report

Trois-Rivieres: Saturday qualifying report
Aug 3, 2003, 12:43 PM

Allmendinger takes third consecutive pole position, fifth overall in 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship at The Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres. TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec (August 2, 2003) - A.J. Allmendinger ( ...

Allmendinger takes third consecutive pole position, fifth overall in 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship at The Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres.

TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec (August 2, 2003) - A.J. Allmendinger (#4 RuSPORT) did not go faster than his time from provisional qualifying on Friday, but turned a lap quick enough to pace final qualifying and add to his championship lead heading into Sunday's Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres (SPEED Channel, Live, 1 pm ET).

In Saturday's final qualifying session, Allmendinger clocked a best lap of 59.338 seconds (92.278 mph) to head the field of 15 qualifiers, and earned an additional championship bonus point. He now leads Ryan Dalziel (#28 Pro-Works/Discovery Lake/Daily Record) by 29 markers heading into Round 8 of the 12-race 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship.

He starts from the pole position, however, based on his track record speed of 59.296 seconds (92.343 mph) from Friday's provisional round of qualifying. Allmendinger will start from the pole position for the third consecutive race and the fifth time overall this season. In each of the previous four races that he started from the pole, he went on to win the race, and it was also the sixth consecutive Toyota Atlantic qualifying session that he has positioned himself atop the time charts.

It was Allmendinger's eighth consecutive top-three qualifying performance, and he has not failed to start outside of the top three in his Toyota Atlantic career. With five poles this season, Allmendinger has the most poles for a driver in a single season since Anthony Lazzaro had five poles en route to the 1999 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship title.

Starting second will be defending Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres champion Michael Valiante (#19 Lynx Racing), who paced the final qualifying session for the first two-thirds of the session before Allmendinger turned his fast lap late in the running. Valiante posted a best lap of 59.454 seconds (92.098 mph), and starts inside the top three for the third consecutive event. It is his fourth straight top-five starting spot.

Dalziel starts third after clocking a best lap of 59.526 seconds (91.987 mph). It was the Scot's seventh consecutive top-four starting spot, and his ninth top-four starting position in 10 races dating to a third place qualifying performance at Montreal in 2002. He goes into the race looking to continue his streak of top-five finishes to six consecutive races.

Danica Patrick (#24 Argent Mortgage Company) will start a Toyota Atlantic career-best of fourth based on her Friday time of 1:00.052 (91.181 mph). Patrick's previous career best starting spot was fifth at the season-opening Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix, and she went on to become the first woman to finish on the podium of a Toyota Atlantic race in series history with a third place result in that event.

Patrick beat Aaron Justus (#3 RuSPORT) by the narrowest of margins to get the fourth starting spot, and Justus will start fifth with a time of 1:00.053 (91.179 mph). It was Justus' third straight top-five qualifying performance and will be his fourth top-five start in five races. He goes into the race looking for his seventh top-five finish in eight races this season.

Dorricott Racing second-year pilot Luis Diaz (#33 Telmex/Dorricott Racing) will roll off the grid from the sixth position after turning in a best lap of 1:00.231 (90.910 mph). It is the Mexican's best starting position since he started fourth for the G.I. Joe's 200 at Portland International Raceway three races ago.

Joey Hand (#27 DSTP Motorsports) will start seventh with a best lap of 1:00251 (90.880 mph), snapping a streak of top-five starting positions at four races. After switching to his backup car due to a crash during provisional qualifying on Friday, Jonathan Macri (#84 NTN Bearings) qualified eighth at 1:00.390 (90.671 mph). He would have started inside the top five had he been able to use his primary car. Trois-Rivieres native Stephan C. Roy (#16 PlayStation 2/MGD/Mexxsport/Castrol/Momo/Zellers) equaled his best qualifying performance of the season by putting his car ninth on the grid in front of the hometown folks at 1:00.478 (90.539 mph), and second-year driver Alex Figge (#69 Wine Country Motorsports/Patrick Racing/Trench Shoring) fills out the top-10 on the starting grid at 1:00.763 (90.114 mph).

Sunday's schedule at the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres calls for a 15-minute warm-up session beginning at 8:45 a.m. ET, and will be followed by Round 8 of the 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship at 1:00 p.m. ET. SPEED Channel will carry live coverage of the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres at 1:00 p.m. ET, and live timing & scoring information is also available for every session on the official web site of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship,

Quotes from the day's top three qualifiers follow below:

* A.J. ALLMENDINGER (#4 RuSPORT): "I think it was a really thought out and planned session that we had. The tire stops that we made were perfectly timed, I felt. We did it when we wanted to. I think the track, probably wasn't as good, especially as it was this morning. With the Trans-Am race, I think that the rubber that got laid down was a little bit different. Other than that, we had a pretty good car. I got a pretty good lap in, late in the run. Burke Harrison, my engineer, he's doing a great job, I love working with him, he was giving me good updates on how quick Michael was, because he was pretty much the one setting the pace for the whole session. I was just fortunate enough to get a good lap in, not many mistakes on the lap, and I think the car can definitely get better tomorrow for the race. I'm very pleased, especially because all that does is add another point to my championship, and that's really what's most important. I look forward to the race tomorrow."

* MICHAEL VALIANTE (#19 Lynx Racing): "The session actually went pretty well. The car was really good at the beginning and it kept improving every lap I did. Unfortunately, when we put new tires on, I think I had a tire going down, so I never really got the full potential of new tires. But the car was really good, and the best thing about it is it's a really good race car. We've just been trying to improve all weekend long."

* RYAN DALZIEL (#28 Pro-Works/Discovery Lake/Daily Record): "It was a pretty interesting couple of days for us so far. We've had some engine trouble, and we've missed a lot of track time, but every session we've improved and we've gotten closer to A.J. (Allmendinger) and Michael (Valiante), who've pretty much set a benchmark all weekend. We're pretty happy to start in third place. I think it's going to be a tough race. It's a pretty tricky place to overtake, but I've just got to keep my nose clean and I've got to think about the championship and take it from there. I think we've made so many improvements over the past couple of days that I'm pretty confident we can find something for tomorrow to at least challenge."


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