Rookie of the Year contender Ryan Hunter-Reay won his first career pole for this afternoon's ninth round of the 2000 Barber Dodge Pro Series racing in support of the CART FedEx Molson Indy Vancouver. Right alongside will be Andy Lally, his arch...
Rookie of the Year contender Ryan Hunter-Reay won his first career pole for this afternoon's ninth round of the 2000 Barber Dodge Pro Series racing in support of the CART FedEx Molson Indy Vancouver. Right alongside will be Andy Lally, his arch rival in the Rookie of the Year battle. Both drivers will be making their first Barber Dodge career front row start. Matt Plumb will start third.
It was truly an exciting session given that the first round of qualifying was blighted by rain showers resulting in spins, and thus a severely abbreviated amount of track time. That amounted to basically one real qualifying session to set the grid for this afternoon's race. Hunter-Reay captured the pole 18 minutes into the 30 minute session which was halted once for eight minutes to clean up a car that had made contact with the barrier. Furthermore, the checkered flag fell a minute and a half early as the result of a separate incident. Prior to Hunter-Reay snaring the pole, it had changed hands no less than 10 times amongst nine different drivers. The times tumbled dramatically as the Barber Dodge drivers got their first crack at a dry track.
Hunter-Reay, in the No. 31 Dodge Reynard, snatched the pole right out of Lally's hands, himself just having taken it away from Sepp Koster. While Hunter-Reay was on his "flaming" lap, an erroneous report of a fire in the back of his car had spotters on the look out. The fire it seems was in his belly. He stopped the clocks at 1:15.957 sec around the 1.781-mile street course.
"I got a good lap in before that black flag, luckily," said Hunter-Reay, 18 of Boca Raton, Fla., who is the 1999 Barber Dodge 'Big Scholarship' winner. "I'm ready to go right now"
After missing the opening round of the 2000 Barber Dodge Pro Series in Sebring and missing the eighth round at Road America in order to race in the Toyota Atlantic Series, points paying positions have become more than invaluable to Lally. Because of it, he dug a little deeper than usual, and the result paid off. Lining up on the outside may be fraught
with hazard for Lally, however. With the Barber Dodge Pro Series field of 22 taking the start immediately after CART Champ Car qualifying, there will be a lot of tire marbles on the outside of turn-1. His time was less than one-tenth of a second behind Hunter-Reay.
"By the end of the day there should be a pretty good chunk of marbles off line in turn-1. It's going to be tough. I may resort ducking in behind Ryan if I can't get him going into turn-1," said Lally, driver of the No. 62 T-One Reynard, of his plan for the start.
The wrench in Hunter-Reay and Lally's plan may just be Plumb. Starting just behind Hunter-Reay, Plumb has been running strong all year and is equally desperate to garner that first win. Plumb held the pole twice during the session, once right at the start.
"It was pretty much a battle of who could get the clearest lap in," said Plumb of Unionville, Penn., driving the No.17 CAM 2 Dodge Reynard. "It was about timing and I timed it a little bit wrong, catching slow traffic in bad places. I'm looking forward to it, I want to get that win."
Sepp Koster, one the pole holders during the session will start fourth. He made light contact with the wall right at the end of the session while trying to recapture the top spot. Andre Nicastro will start alongside Koster while local Vancouver resident Michael Valiante will start sixth. Both of those men were also among the group of drivers who sat on pole, with Valiante setting a time then lowering it on his next go around. Rivals in the fight for the $300,000 career enhancement award Jon Fogarty and Nilton Rossoni find themselves languishing in the middle of the field. Rossoni was the provisional pole sitter, and made a brief appearance atop the time sheet, yet was overhauled midway through. Championship leader Fogarty will start ninth while Rossoni resides in 11th.
Round 9 of 12 in the 2000 Barber Dodge Pro Series will start this afternoon, Sept.2 at 3:55 p.m. PDT.