St. Pete: Friday qualifying notes

Beaulieu takes St. Pete provisional pole. (St. Petersburg, Fla.) February 21-Josh Beaulieu of Langley, B.C., Canada took the first provisional pole position of the season in today's first qualifying session with a lap of 1.14.972 seconds at the...

Beaulieu takes St. Pete provisional pole.

(St. Petersburg, Fla.) February 21-Josh Beaulieu of Langley, B.C., Canada took the first provisional pole position of the season in today's first qualifying session with a lap of 1.14.972 seconds at the 1.806-mile temporary street circuit on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. Qualifying in second spot was Dan Di Leo of Markham, Ontario, who held the top spot during most of the session only to come up a scant .069 seconds short in his quest for the pole. Just .059 of a second behind Di Leo was rookie Scott Poirier from nearby Deerfield Beach, Florida in his first start in the Pro Series. The competition in the Barber Dodge Pro Series showed itself to be extremely tight once again, as the first twelve qualifiers were separated by just one second.

The session ran without disruption for the first thirty minutes of the scheduled thirty-five minute session before an off-course excursion by Luis Pelayo, who at the time held a spot in the top five, caused a red flag to close the session.

Beaulieu will take one championship point for his effort, giving him an early start on his championship quest. Beaulieu, who returns to the Pro Series after his rookie 2002 season, is aiming to put a Toyota Atlantic program together, and is hoping his strong result will help him in his quest for increased sponsorship. Beaulieu was excited to take his first pole position in the Pro Series and believes that the experience he gained last season helped push him to the top in qualifying today.

"I am really excited about taking the provisional pole," said Beaulieu. "I love this circuit, its probably one of the best street circuits I have ever driven. I also get the point for the pole, and I don't intend to lose the lead from here on out! We got the set-up just right for today, and the dowco.com car was fast when it counted at the end of the session."

Dan Di Leo was disappointed not to convert his lead during most of the session into a provisional pole, but he is nonetheless happy to be up front and believes he can take the top spot in final qualifying.

" This track has so many good passing zones that qualifying up front isn't going to be as important as it is on some of the other street circuits we visit, but its still good to be close to the front," said Di Leo. "I am looking forward to taking the pole back tomorrow morning."

Scott Poirier, who generated funding toward his move up the ladder from the Formula Dodge National Championship presented by Racer in the Barber-Champ Car Run Off in December, was happy to find himself in third after traffic prevented him from setting a fast time early in the session.

"The session didn't start out that well, as I got in some bad packs of traffic, but later on, I got some clean track and just put my head down and drove as hard as I could," said Di Leo. "It's great to be up in the front so early in my first start, especially down close to home in Florida."

Leo Maia, who was second quick in the morning warm up took fourth in qualifying, with Colin Fleming rebounding from a morning session that was stunted due to mechanical gremlins finishing the session fifth quick, and was the only driver besides German Quiorga, Di Leo, and Beaulieu to hold the top spot during the session. Mexican German Quiroga continued to show his fast form, taking the sixth position. Chris Baker of Houston, Texas, proved how much he likes the track layout, which features both fast flowing turns as well as several slower, more technical sections, as he qualified seventh quick to follow up on his third-fastest run in the morning warm-up. Antoine Bessette of St. Bruno Quebec qualified eighth, with Chris Green, the second driver hailing from Quebec bagging a top-ten spot in his first Barber Dodge Pro Series qualifying. Atticus Missner, who returns to the Pro Series for his second season, showed his experience to be a benefit as he took the tenth spot.

Final qualifying will take place at 9:00 a.m. Saturday, with the race scheduled to go green at 3:45 p.m. Full report and story available at www.barberdodge.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.

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About this article
Series Barber Pro
Drivers Josh Beaulieu , German Quiroga , Chris Baker , Atticus Missner , Scott Poirier , Colin Fleming , Chris Green