SBRS: Road Atlanta Rossoni tops practice

Brazilian Nilton Rossoni fired the first title salvo as he topped the first practice session for the Barber Dodge Pro Series round 11 at the Road Atlanta Motor Sports Center. Rossoni set the track ablaze with a last lap blitz that stopped the ...

Brazilian Nilton Rossoni fired the first title salvo as he topped the first practice session for the Barber Dodge Pro Series round 11 at the Road Atlanta Motor Sports Center. Rossoni set the track ablaze with a last lap blitz that stopped the clocks in 1:23.833 sec for an average speed of 109.074 mph. That time is unofficially four-tenths of a second below the qualifying record set by Jeff Simmons in 1998. Championship rival Jon Fogarty of Portola Valley, Calif. was just behind Rossoni with a fast lap of 1:23.892 sec, followed in third by Swedish rookie Thed Bjork, another tenth of a second in arrears.

At the end of the session, the first seven drivers were all below Simmons' record lap time. The 2.54-mile track should only get faster as the week progresses which bodes well for a record shattering qualifying session Thursday with the final qualifying session set for Friday morning prior to the Saturday race.

"We tried a few changes to the car and it just got better and better," said Rossoni who drives the No. 36 Oil Extreme Dodge Reynard. "My car was good enough to go on top on the last lap, and I'm sure that tomorrow will be even better."

Not wanting to reveal his secrets Rossoni let on that he and his race engineer Cid Iglesias, had thought about the car's set-up the night before, and it proved to be correct.

Like Rossoni, Fogarty set his quick time in the latter part of the session. Also like his Brazilian foe, Fogarty's quick time came as a result of evolving the set up of his No. 52 Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards Dodge Reynard throughout the practice following Tuesday's test day.

"I looked at the data last night from the test sessions and figured out where I needed to improve, then basically went out and did that," commented Fogarty. "I could have gone quicker, but no matter. Tomorrow's qualifying, and that's when I need to do it."

Both drivers conceded that the series title is on their minds. However, their focus remains on the race, as both try to score maximum points.

Bjork's No. 11 Corechange Dodge Reynard appeared atop time sheets on several occasions throughout the 30-minute session. Yet every time he went fast, the aforementioned two, along with Sepp Koster and Michael Valiante went faster. It proved to be of little concern to the amiable Swede as he slotted in third on the 20th of the 20 laps he completed.

In the end Valiante would finish the session fourth quick followed by Roger Yasukawa in fifth and Koster in sixth. Matt Plumb, Jamie Menninga, Alexandre Sperafico, and Brent Sherman round out the Top-10 in that order.

The first official qualifying session will get underway tomorrow, Sept. 28 at 1:40 p.m. EDT.

<pre> ROUND 11 THE PETIT LEMANS ROAD ATLANTA MOTOR SPORTS CENTER Braselton, GA

Pos/Car/Driver/Hometown/Time/Speed 1/36/Nilton Rossoni/Curitiba, Brazil/ 01:23.833 109.074 2/52/Jon Fogarty/Portolo Valley, Calif./01:23.892/108.997 3/11/Thed Björk/Vretstorp, Sweden/01:23.945/108.928 4/95/Michael Valiante/Vancouver,Canada/01:24.001/108.856 5/9/Roger Yasukawa/Santa Monica, Calif./01:24.019/108.833 6/5/Sepp Koster/The Netherlands/01:24.090/108.741 7/17/Matt Plumb/Unionville, Penn./01:24.115/108.708 8/7/Jamie Menninga/Pella, Iowa/01:24.546/108.154 9/20/Alexandre Sperafico/Brazil/01:24.735/107.913 10/4/Brent Sherman/ North Barrington, Ill./01:24.850/107.767 11/23/Marc Breuers/Gladwyne, Penn./01:24.92/107.677 12/25/Kip Gulseth/Manitowoc, Wisc./01:25.20/107.321 13/19/Sara Senske/Kennewick, Washington/01:25.282/107.221 14/21/Jon Vannini/Hillsborough, California/01:25.453/107.006 15/14/Mikel Miller/Rancho Cordova, Calif./01:25.794/106.581 16/53/Tom Fogarty/Soledad, Calif./01:25.925/106.418 17/31/Ryan Hunter-Reay/Boca Raton, Fla./01:25.934/106.407 18/77/Scott Mayer/Franklin, Wisc./01:27.481/104.526 Track Length 2.54-miles Current Qualifying Record:1:24.213 sec, Jeff Simmons, 1998

- George Tamayo

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Series Other open wheel
Drivers Jon Fogarty , Michael Valiante , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Brent Sherman , Tom Fogarty , Marc Breuers , Roger Yasukawa , Jon Vannini , Nilton Rossoni , Thed Björk , Sepp Koster , Scott Mayer , Jeff Simmons , Matt Plumb , Mikel Miller