Originally-From: "Tamayo, George" <firstname.lastname@example.org> (PHOENIX, Az.) April 20, 2001 - Hanging onto his provisional pole, Frenchman Nicolas Rondet captured his third career Barber Dodge Pro Series pole for Saturday's second round of...
Originally-From: "Tamayo, George" <email@example.com>
(PHOENIX, Az.) April 20, 2001 - Hanging onto his provisional pole, Frenchman Nicolas Rondet captured his third career Barber Dodge Pro Series pole for Saturday's second round of the Barber Dodge Pro Series. Rondet, 30, lowered the standard he set yesterday officially establishing a new qualifying record. With a little over a minute remaining in the 30-minute session, Rondet recorded his fastest tour of the 1.51-mile Phoenix International Raceway road course at 0:58.736 sec. for an average speed of 92.550 mph. That time eclipses the old record set in 1992 by Ashton Lewis by over 1.5 seconds.
Starting alongside Rondet will be Sepp Koster who overcame a difficult qualifying session yesterday to record a quick lap two-tenths of a second shy of the polesitter. Third quickest is rookie driver Rafael Sperafico who slipped into third as just as he streaked beneath a waving checkered flag in his Barber-CART Dodge Reynard. Additionally four rookies including Sperafico are featured in the fastest ten qualifiers. Overall, the first 15 drivers qualified within one second of each other.
"It feels good to be back on pole as it has been a long time since I was last there," said Rondet, driver of the No. 24 In KART USA Dodge Reynard. "I was hoping the times wouldn't start to come down too early in the session so I could save my tires. But right away everyone started going faster, so I had to stay out there and burn off the fuel, save the tires and concentrate on going faster. It's going to be a tough race like every Barber Dodge race."
Rondet first lowered the mark 12 minutes into the session shaving a tenth of a second off of his provisional time. Koster, provisionally fifth, immediately slotted into second place. From there on out, those two would cling to the front row, trading the pole once and each lowering his times twice more until Rondet finally came out ahead. Sperafico hadn't broken into the top five for the entire session until his final lap when he knocked Ryan Hunter-Reay down a notch. Several other drivers had made forays into positions 3-5 during the final qualifying session including Alex Sperafico, Jon Morley, Marc Breuers, Davy Cook and Christian Szymczak.
"First of all the crew did a really food job of preparing my car and sorting out yesterday's problems. The first few minutes of the session were spent fine tuning the set up and we were right on the money. I felt very confident midway through the session as I heard on the radio that I was trading fastest laps with Nicolas. Unfortunately at the end of the session I got caught up in traffic and on such a short track it can difficult to get out of it, but I'll take the front row," said Dutchman Koster who drives the No. 3 Stora-Drain Dodge Reynard.
"I just concentrated on going faster and faster and really driving the car," said a typically matter of fact Sperafico. "This track is a little bit like a go-kart track which is good for me because in Brazil I drive a go-kart every day, so I'm really looking forward to the race tomorrow."
Barber-CART Rookie of the Year Hunter-Reay narrowly missed out on the third spot on the grid, a position he had nearly held for the last ten minutes of the session. Nevertheless, a fourth starting position is a quantum leap forward from the 13th spot he held provisionally. Breuers recorded his best ever Barber Dodge starting position as he lines his Sunoco Dodge Reynard up fifth on the grid. Quickest early in the week, Morley will start his second Barber Dodge race on the outside of row three while fellow rookie Cook ended the day seventh quick. Plumb who was as high as fourth quick earlier in the session takes the eighth starting spot with another rookie in the form of Szymczak starting alongside in ninth. Alexander Sperafico was unable to match his provisional form, completing the Top-10.
The green flag for the second round of the Barber Dodge Pro Series will drop in the Valley of the Sun at 4:05 p.m. PDT Saturday April 21. Adding a wrinkle to the race is that the Valley of the Sun may not live up to it's reputation as afternoon thunderstorms are lingering in the forecast.