Elkhart Lake: Friday qualifying report

Maia takes Road America provisional pole. (Elkhart Lake, WI) August 16-Leo Maia of Oakland, California made the most of the first qualifying session to take his first-ever Barber Dodge Pro Series provisional pole with a lap of 2:13.933 seconds...

Maia takes Road America provisional pole.

(Elkhart Lake, WI) August 16-Leo Maia of Oakland, California made the most of the first qualifying session to take his first-ever Barber Dodge Pro Series provisional pole with a lap of 2:13.933 seconds at Road America in his Quaker State-liveried machine. Second in the provisional qualifying was Memo Rojas in the Telmex car, with Rafael Sperafico continuing his streak of strong qualifying performances with a third-place provisional qualifying position. Josh Beaulieu adapted well to the 4.048-mile track on his first visit as evidenced by his fourth place performance in first qualifying, with Rhonda Trammell carding her best qualifying effort this season with the fifth spot on the provisional grid in her Menards machine.

Mid-Ohio winner Marc Breuers finished the session in sixth place with Cleveland round winner Davy Cook behind him in seventh. Aurelio Lopez, Jr. slotted into the eighth spot on the provisional grid as German Quiroga gave his Gigante colors another strong run to ninth. A.J. Allmendinger, the 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series champion-elect, had a tough day as he ran wide in turn one late in the session and was unable to improve on his tenth spot.

The half-hour session was a stop-start affair, with the red flag flying twice, first in the fifth minute to extricate Morgan Davies machine from the sandtrap in turn five, and again in the 21st minute to clear Mid-Ohio pole winner Christian Szymczak's car from the gravel in turn seven. The red flags meant that the drivers had little track time to get their cars up to speed.

Leo Maia was unhappy with his qualifying performance in Mid-Ohio, feeling like he'd had a pole-caliber car, but hadn't run a pole-securing time. He was determined to put the time in when it counted in qualifying at Road America, and did just that to take his first ever Barber Dodge pole and secure a front row starting spot for Sunday's race as well as one championship point. Maia currently sits in seventh place in the season standings, now 15 points behind Rojas.

"I knew I was capable of a fast lap here, and I had been fast right before the red flag came out, which meant that I didn't get credit for the lap," said Maia. "When we got back out there, I knew I had the car to do it, so it was just a matter of getting a clear track. You don't get too many laps around this big track during each session, so you have to get it right every chance you get. I got the checkered flag and had to come in, but there were guys behind me that were still on track, and I was as nervous as I have ever been just waiting for someone to beat my time, but I was happy when the waiting was over and I had the pole."

Memo Rojas was on his fastest lap when he encountered a yellow flag, possibly costing him a pole. Rojas, of Mexico City, Mexico, was still happy with the result and feels like his car is exactly how he likes it.

"There was a yellow flag, so I slowed down a bit," said Rojas. "I didn't know what it was for, so I wanted to take it easy. I think I probably gave up a pole time by doing that, but its better to be smart even if it costs you some time in a situation like that. My car is really comfortable and consistent, so I am hoping to set a fast time tomorrow again and try for the pole."

Laguna Seca round winner Rafael Sperafico was third in his Dodge-liveried machine despite some back pain he has been experiencing since the Mid-Ohio race.

"My back has been bothering me a little bit in the car, but I want to thank the CART doctors, since they have been doing a really good job of making it feel better. I would also like to congratulate Leo on his pole, since he works very hard, and we are teammates and we talk about the car all the time. I am hoping my back feels better and we can get some fast times in tomorrow."

Final qualifying takes place Saturday at 11:30 A.M. With rain a possibility tomorrow morning, its anyone's guess as to where the lap times will end up. Maia, though, believes that if the conditions are dry, the times should drop again.

"I think there is more time out there tomorrow so long as it doesn't rain. I also think my car is capable of setting a faster lap, so I am pretty confident heading into the qualifying tomorrow. "

The Barber Dodge Pro Series is the Official Entry Level Professional Series of CART. The drivers utilize identically prepared single seat open wheel Reynard-Dodge racecars. Barber Dodge Pro Series provides a level playing field where driving talent, not financial resources, play the decisive role. This state-of-the-art platform, with its carbon composite construction, raised nose and 6-speed sequential gearbox, takes full advantage of the 265hp all aluminum Dodge V6 Intrepid motor that is exclusive to this series. Additionally, all of the Barber Dodges compete on identical Michelin Pilot racing slicks.

To ensure absolute equality for all competitors, the Barber Dodge Pro Series owns, maintains, prepares and transports all the cars and equipment. This serves to control costs while allowing the drivers to concentrate solely on developing their driving skills. The Barber Dodge Pro Series rewards those with dedication and skill with true financial incentive - an incredible $55,100 in prize money is available for each Barber Dodge Pro Series event with $13,000 going to the race winner. The overall Series Champion receives a $100,000 scholarship towards entry in the Toyota Atlantic Championship, and the series Rookie of the Year receives $185,000 in career enhancement funding. In total, the Barber Dodge Pro Series pays out over $1 million annually in prize money, contingencies and scholarships.

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About this article
Series Barber Pro
Drivers Josh Beaulieu , Aurelio Lopez , Christian Szymczak , German Quiroga , Davy Cook , Memo Rojas , A.J. Allmendinger , Marc Breuers , Rafael Sperafico , Morgan Davies , Rhonda Trammell