Monterrey: Friday provisional qualifying notes

Monterrey's Martinez takes provisional pole. MONTERREY, Mexico (March 21, 2003)--David Martinez of Monterrey, Mexico, secured the provisional pole in today's first qualifying session with a lap of 1:34.440 seconds on the 2.104-mile circuit at ...

Monterrey's Martinez takes provisional pole.

MONTERREY, Mexico (March 21, 2003)--David Martinez of Monterrey, Mexico, secured the provisional pole in today's first qualifying session with a lap of 1:34.440 seconds on the 2.104-mile circuit at Fundidora Park. Taking second position was Chris Green of Beaconsfield, Quebec, who came up just .267 seconds short in his bid for his first Barber Dodge pole position. Daniel Di Leo of Markham, Ontario, secured third after spending much of the session atop the timesheets before being bested late in the session by Martinez and Green.

Antoine Bessette, who held onto the top spot with ten minutes remaining in the session, took fourth spot with St. Petersburg round winner Leo Maia ending the session in the top-five. Fellow Barber-Champ Car Scholarship drivers Colin Fleming and Scott Poirier took sixth and seventh respectively, with a pair of Mexican pilots, German Quiroga and Memo Rojas, taking eighth and ninth. Al Unser put in a strong performance during the first half of the session, with times in the top five, but lost the handling on his car by the end of the session to end with a provisional tenth starting position.

Martinez, who had only driven the Barber Dodge Reynard 98E in one race in 1998 before this weekend, was ecstatic to take the provisional pole in front of his countryman on a track that is just down the road from his home. The pole position gives Martinez one championship point, and guarantees him a front-row starting spot for Saturday's race. Martinez arrives to the Barber Dodge Pro Series with a strong background consisting of several karting championships and open-wheel race experience. The young racer has made sure that the rest of the drivers will know his name with his outstanding first-day performance.

"This is so exciting for me to even be racing here, and to get this kind of result in the first qualifying really feels great," enthused Martinez. "It's going to be an entertaining weekend, and racing just a few blocks from my home is truly special."

Chris Green asserted himself with a series of fast times as the session came to a close, and was on the pole spot when he crossed the line as the session was checkered, only to have Martinez take the top time with his last lap. The young Canadian, who has impressed with both his poise and his speed, was none the less happy with his session.

"It was an exciting session, and I thought I had the pole up until the very end, but I think tomorrow will be good to be qualifying in the morning with the cooler conditions," said Green

Daniel Di Leo, who finished second in the season-opening race in St. Petersburg, sat atop the timesheets for most of the session, but came up just short to end up in third after he was unable to get a clear lap late in the session, when the Reynard 98E's are typically fastest.

"I think I made a mistake by staying out the entire session and never coming in to make any changes on the car, but it was so critical to get a clear lap, away from traffic, that I just decided that I had a better chance if I stayed out," said Di Leo. "The track keeps getting better every session we go out, though, so I am hoping that tomorrow I can have a better session and get into the front row."

The forty-minute session was an exciting all-green flag affair, with the top position being held by four different drivers and saw several drivers experience spins as the field struggled to come to grips with the near grip-less track surface. Final qualifying will take place at 8:05 a.m. EST, with the race scheduled to begin at 2:45 p.m. EST. Full results and story to be posted at www.barberdodge.com.

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Series Barber Pro
Drivers German Quiroga , Memo Rojas , Scott Poirier , Colin Fleming , David Martinez , Chris Green , Antoine Bessette , Al Unser