Portland: Saturday qualifying notes

Maia extends points advantage with Portland pole. PORTLAND, OR (June 21, 2003)-An outstanding effort in final qualifying for Leonardo Maia of Oakland, California, enabled the points leader to hold on to his provisional pole as he scored the ...

Maia extends points advantage with Portland pole.

PORTLAND, OR (June 21, 2003)-An outstanding effort in final qualifying for Leonardo Maia of Oakland, California, enabled the points leader to hold on to his provisional pole as he scored the fastest time in a wet session with a 1.22.576 second lap on the 1.69-mile Portland International Raceway for Sunday's Barber Dodge Pro Series race. The lap time was the only one that mattered in the session, as wet conditions kept the speeds slower than they were in first qualifying on Friday, making the first round of qualifying the most vital to setting the grid for Sunday's race. Maia will start alongside of Memo Rojas, with round four winner Dan Di Leo starting in third.

Colin Fleming of North Hills, California, will start fourth, with round two race winner David Martinez of Monterrey, Mexico, starting in fifth. Telmex sponsored Luis Pelayo of Mexico City, Mexico, scored sixth on the grid, as Barber Champ Car Scholarship driver Scott Poirier of Deerfield Beach, Florida took seventh. Chris Green of Beaconsfield, Quebec, will start in the fourth row in the eighth position with Nelson Philippe of Valence, France, in ninth, along side of Barber Champ Car Scholarship driver Burt Frisselle.

The qualifying session started just after sunny skies quickly gave way to a light rain shower, as has been the case throughout the weekend, with the weather refusing to stay the same for more than half an hour at a time. The Barber Dodge officials elected to start the forty five minute session with the field on Michelin slick tires in anticipation of the conditions changing yet again and the track drying out in the same manner as had occurred in Friday's qualifying.

The track did indeed dry out, but much later in the session than anticipated, giving the drivers the opportunity to test their skills in the wet. Several drivers put in some strong performances, with Al Unser, Nelson Philppe and first-time Barber Dodge racer Ben Freudenberg, each spending time on the top of the charts during the session.

The track began offering a drying line as the session progressed, and with the sun breaking through late in the session, the times began to tumble. With one minute remaining in the session, Dan Di Leo was quickest with a 1:27.182, but by the end of the next sixty seconds, Maia had scored the pole and the championship point that goes with it with a fast lap time of 1:22.576 seconds. Maia's championship point extends his point lead over Memo Rojas to fourteen.

Maia had fun in the qualifying session, and was happy to have timed his run to perfection to set his fastest lap.

"It was a really interesting session for sure, and every lap was quicker than the next in the late stages of the session," said Maia. "It was hard, because I was going for a good time, but I didn't want to push too hard and go off and damage the car. It was just a matter of staying out on the track, and finding the speed out there."

Maia will make his third start of the season from the pole position, and is looking forward to the start of the race.

"I just want to try and get through the first corner," said Maia. "We will have a warm up session in the morning, and I will be practicing the line through there with the start in mind, to see how much grip there is going to be in the braking zone, since that should be so important."

Memo Rojas of Mexico City, Mexico, will be looking for his fifth consecutive podium finish of the season, and his hoping to break into Maia's points lead.

"It was a fun session in the wet," said Maia. "I got caught up by traffic on the last lap of the session, which was the one that counted, so I couldn't get pole, but I am looking forward to the start of the race tomorrow to try and get my first win here."

Dan Di Leo, who started on the outside pole at Laguna Seca last weekend, will look to make the most of tomorrows start as he tries to add to his win tally.

"It was fun running in the rain today, always being on the limit of the car all the way around the track," said Di Leo. "I just didn't get the break in traffic with the timing as the track was drying out there, but I am really just concentrated on the start of the race tomorrow. I am in a good position to have a good result here in Portland just like I did last season. We'll be hoping to get through the first corner and take it from there."

Round five of the 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series Championship is scheduled to get underway at 10:00 PST on Sunday. Full results and story to be posted at www.skipbarber.com.

The Barber Dodge Pro Series is the Official Entry Level Professional Series of Champ Car. 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.

Skip Barber Racing School is the world's leading provider of automotive education and entertainment. With five base locations in Connecticut, Florida, California, and Wisconsin, Skip Barber operates at over twenty tracks nationwide. The Dodge Division of DaimlerChrysler, Michelin North America, and Quaker State are key strategic partners for the company. NASCAR Winston Cup Champion Jeff Gordon, Indianapolis 500 Champion and Champ Car Champion Juan Montoya, and legend Michael Andretti are but three graduates to have emerged from Skip Barber Racing's nearly thirty years of training and expertise.

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Series Barber Pro
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Michael Andretti , Memo Rojas , Leonardo Maia , Burt Frisselle , Scott Poirier , Colin Fleming , Skip Barber , David Martinez , Chris Green , Luis Pelayo , Nelson Philippe , Ben Freudenberg , Al Unser