Denver, CO (Aug. 30, 2003) - Following up on his excellent second place finish in the previous weekends Fran AM Pro race in Montreal, after starting from eighth position on the grid, Dan McMullen, from Gormley, Ontario headed to Denver with high...
Denver, CO (Aug. 30, 2003) - Following up on his excellent second place finish in the previous weekends Fran AM Pro race in Montreal, after starting from eighth position on the grid, Dan McMullen, from Gormley, Ontario headed to Denver with high aspirations of again being at the front of the pack. Since he changed teams two weeks ago and joined Team Autotechnica, based in Toronto, Ontario, Dan has renewed confidence and is eager to show what he is capable of.
The schedule had the Fran Am cars first on the track early on Friday morning, and the drivers were met with not only learning a new circuit, but also they had to deal with a track that was very dirty and slippery. It wasn't long before Dan got comfortable with the layout of the track and he started to put in some respectable times. At the end of the half hour session he would clock the fifth fastest time at 1:16.521, although he said afterwards, "I didn't push the car at all. The setup was fantastic and there is a lot more speed to be had. I wanted to familiarize myself with the track and bring the car back in one piece, as the circuit was very slippery off line. Also it is very slippery on the concrete patches in several of the corners and it would have been very easy to get off line and put it into the wall." The only problem Dan encountered was a slight braking problem that the team easily corrected before the afternoons qualifying session.
Everyone knew that the times in qualifying would be a lot faster than in the mornings practice session as more and more rubber got laid down from all of the other cars, especially the CART Champ cars. The team made some minor changes to the car's setup for the anticipated increase in grip level and Dan was ready to put in a quick lap.
As the qualifying session started Dan took his time bringing his tires up to temp and put in a couple of relatively slow laps to get the feel of the car and to see how the circuit had changed from the morning session. The tires started to come in on the sixth lap and it was now time to take a run at putting in a quick lap. As Dan negotiated the tight twists of the street circuit he was surprised to see in front of him on the exit of one of the ever-present blind corners the car of Venezuelan Ricardo Imery sideways across the track, blocking a majority of the circuit. Dan reacted quickly to avoid a major collision with the immobile car but as he did he got just a little off of the racing line onto the dirty portion of the track and the back end came around, making slight contact with the wall. The impact was light but it was enough to bend the car's rear suspension. It was the end of his qualifying session and ended his hopes for a decent starting spot for Saturday's race.
Dan was very disappointed with the turn of events that left him in eighteenth place on the grid for the start of the race. The team though was not too worried. As one of them said to Dan after the session, "it is going to be exciting to watch you coming through the field on the way to the front!" He will have his work cut out for himself but Dan is confident that he can move up the order. With the nature of a tight and twisty street circuit, and with the unforgiving walls lining the track just inches away from the racing line in many places, anything can happen in the race.