SBRS: Yasukawa on Road Atlanta provisional pole

Californian Roger Yasukawa sits on his first provisional Barber Dodge Pro Series career pole, and he set a new qualifying record to boot. Lapping the 2.54-mile Road Atlanta Motor Sports Center circuit in 1:24.091 sec, Yasukawa grabbed the ...

Californian Roger Yasukawa sits on his first provisional Barber Dodge Pro Series career pole, and he set a new qualifying record to boot. Lapping the 2.54-mile Road Atlanta Motor Sports Center circuit in 1:24.091 sec, Yasukawa grabbed the provisional pole with 13-minutes remaining in the 30-minute session only to have title contender Nilton Rossoni swipe it back minutes later. With seven minutes remaining, Yasukawa, the 1999 Co-Rookie of the Year, took his No.9 Tokyo Ueno Clinic Dodge Reynard passed the finish line two-tenths of a second quicker than he had before and from there no one could best him. Dutchman Sepp Koster jumped onto the provisional front row on his last flying lap relegating Rossoni to third.

"My car is very good, so I'm just concentrating on the driving," said Yasukawa who is racing at Road Atlanta for the first time. "My last two laps I saw the oil pressure dropping, so I just parked it by the side of the track. We'll change the motor for tomorrow, so hopefully it'll be okay."

Koster's session was one of peaks and valleys as he was quick in the early going before languishing in mid-field for the middle part of the session. By the end however, he had returned to form and slotted himself in on the second row, hoping to go one better in the final session. Koster was the fastest driver on the pre-event test day last Tuesday, topping the time sheets in all three sessions.

"I was pretty fired up to get here," said Koster referring to getting back in the car after the disappointment of Laguna Seca, where a fabulous drive came to an unfortunate end. "I expect the track to be even faster. It'll be cooler in the morning and the engines will have that much more power. It's going to be a big struggle tomorrow battling for the pole."

Rossoni is also a first time visitor to the Road Atlanta track, and found that it is one he enjoys. That fact was quickly illustrated in his ability to turn quick lap times from the outset. Seldom out of the top-4, Rossoni snared the provisional pole 22 minutes into the session, only to be relegated to third in the waning minutes by both Yasukawa and Koster. Still, he feels third is not a bad place to be, with one more qualifying session to go before the Saturday morning race.

"This is a track that definitely requires commitment. It's really fun and really fast. Turn-1 definitely requires commitment, and all through the esses, you really have to use your car well," said Rossoni, who drives the No. 36 Oil Exteme Dodge Reynard.

American Jon Fogarty, the only other contender in the battle for the $300,000 Career Enhancement Award had a miserable session as he fought an electrical woe that was resolved in the final part of the session. He was able to run a few quick laps, and is confident that the final qualifying will see a vast improvement on his current 11th start position.

The top-12 cars in the field are covered by one second. Swede Thed Bjork who topped the times for a substantial part of the qualifying ended up fourth quick followed by Ryan Hunter-Reay who is shaking off the affects of a testing accident here on Tuesday that left him with a swollen left hand and bruised left heel. Rounding out the Top-10 was Jamie Menninga (6th), Alexandre Sperafico (7th), Matt Plumb (8th), Michael Valiante (9th) and Marc Breuers (10th).

Final Qualifying will take place Friday morning Sept. 29 at 8:00 a.m. EDT.

<pre> ROUND 11


Car Fastest Pos # Driver/Hometown Lap 1 9 Roger Yasukawa/Santa Monica, Calif. 01:24.091 2 5 Sepp Koster/The Netherlands 01:24.139 3 36 Nilton Rossoni/Curitiba, Brazil 01:24.183 4 11 Thed Björk/Vretstorp, Sweden 01:24.398 5 31 Ryan Hunter-Reay/Boca Raton, Fla. 01:24.444 6 7 Jamie Menninga/Pella, Iowa 01:24.472 7 20 Alexandre Sperafico/Brazil 01:24.506 8 17 Matt Plumb/Unionville, Penn. 01:24.538 9 95 Michael Valiante/Vancouver,Canada 01:24.738 10 23 Marc Breuers/Gladwyne, Penn. 01:24.775 11 52 Jon Fogarty/Portolo Valley, Calif. 01:24.911 12 4 Brent Sherman/ North Barrington, Ill. 01:24.942 13 19 Sara Senske/Kennewick, Washington 01:25.194 14 21 Jon Vannini/Hillsborough, California 01:25.304 15 14 Mikel Miller/Rancho Cordova, Calif. 01:25.429 16 25 Kip Gulseth/Manitowoc, Wisc. 01:25.462 17 53 Tom Fogarty/Soledad, Calif. 01:26.155 18 77 Scott Mayer/Franklin, Wisc. 01:26.905

Track Length: 2.54-miles Qual Record: Roger Yasukawa, 1:24.091, Sept 2000

- George Tamayo

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About this article
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 , Matt Plumb , Mikel Miller