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Montreal: Friday qualifying summary

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Montreal: Friday qualifying summary
Aug 30, 2002, 8:44 AM

Di Leo takes Montreal provisional pole, (Montreal, Quebec) August 23-Dan Di Leo of Markham, Ontario made the most of a clear track to take the provisional pole position at the 2.709-mile Circuit Gilles Villeneuve permanent road course in Montreal ...

Di Leo takes Montreal provisional pole,

(Montreal, Quebec) August 23-Dan Di Leo of Markham, Ontario made the most of a clear track to take the provisional pole position at the 2.709-mile Circuit Gilles Villeneuve permanent road course in Montreal with a best lap time of 1.41.525 seconds. The effort gives Di Leo one championship point and guarantees him a front row starting spot for Sunday's race irrespective of his performance in Saturday's final qualifying. Behind Di Leo qualified the 2001 Barber Dodge Rookie of the Year Rafael Sperafico in the Dodge-liveried machine with a lap of 1.41.712 seconds, which just edged out the 1.41.728 second lap put in by 2002 Barber Dodge champion-elect A.J. Allmendinger.

Memo Rojas of Mexico City, Mexico qualified fourth in the Telmex-backed machine with Road America round pole and race winner Leo Maia posting the fifth best time. Josh Beaulieu of Langley, British Columbia was sixth quick in his California Club-sponsored car while Aurelio Lopez continued to show improvement in the car with his seventh-place effort. German Quiorga qualified eighth in his Gigante machine while Mid Ohio pole winner Christian Szymczak took ninth. Danica Patrick qualified tenth in her return to the series after missing last week's race at Road America.

The half hour session saw the top spot exchanged between Di Leo, Szymczak, Allmendinger, and Sperafico before Di Leo set the fastest time of the session right before the decision was made to red-flag the session to retrieve Maia's car which had lost drive on the front straight. With only three minutes remaining in the session after going back to green, the field fled back out on track, but the session was checkered before anyone was able to improve on their times.

Di Leo was happy to take his first provisional pole, as he feels like he has unfinished business from last weekend. Di Leo was fastest in the second qualifying session last week at Road America but was disappointed to finish fourth after having started on the front row. Di Leo usually enjoys his time between races, but after last week's race, all he could think about was getting back into the car and going fast.

"I was the first one out on the track, and I tried to make the most of the open track that I had," said Di Leo. "The track was a little bit different than it was this morning since we now had some Champcar rubber down for us. It's still a pretty green track, especially off line. Every lap, I was able to gain a little bit more time as I am still learning my way around and trying to find where the best grip is. I think holding on to the pole tomorrow is going to come down to who gets their set up best suited to the Champcar rubber that will be down on the track."

Allmendinger showed that his tenth place qualifying effort last week at Road America was an aberration as he returned to his normal qualifying form and qualified third provisionally for the first ever Barber Dodge Pro Series race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Allmendinger has locked up the championship and only has one thought on his mind, getting another win to make it six on the season, which would tie him with Kenny Brack, who stormed to the Barber championship in 1993 in similar fashion to Allmendinger.

" My car was pretty good today," said Allmendinger. "I put my fastest laps in once I got some clear track and got into a rhythm out there. I came in to make some small changes on the car, and then got caught out when the red flag came out and we just couldn't get a good time in once we restarted since we only had a lap and a half. I like this track a lot, though. It's going to be a really exciting race on Sunday since there are enough slow corners to keep everyone in touch, but there are also some big long straights that will make some good passing opportunities ."

The rest of the field will get the chance to improve on the time set by Di Leo in the final qualifying session at 12:20 PM EST with the race scheduled to get underway at 11:15 AM on Sunday.

-cart/barber-

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