Frenchman tops Atlantics practice
Franck Perera (#11 CJ Motorsport) was quickest in the Saturday morning practice session with a best lap at 1:26.713 (108.814 mph).
The Condor Motorsports rookie heads into this afternoon's final qualifying session looking to improve upon his fifth-place performance in Friday's provisional qualifying. Perera has started inside the top-three positions in four of his six starts this season, topped by a best qualifying result of second at Long Beach. The Frenchman is also looking for his first Atlantic race victory this weekend.
"It's getting so much better," Perera said. "Yesterday was already good. I mean I dominated both sessions-- qualifying and practice--but in the end, I had some traffic problems and I didn't find the right lap. I was disappointed yesterday, because Matos gained again. It was not only to be first, but the problem is when you dominate, you can be disappointed. We worked on the car and the strategy for the practice was very good. I dominated all the session with a good gap. I could do so much better. Now, the team is doing a good job. On the last lap, I had some traffic because there are some drivers that like to stop the other guy. That's not nice, but they're young."
Second-quickest was provisional polesitter and Atlantic points leader Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks) with a lap at 1:27.181 (108.230 mph). He is already guaranteed a front-row starting spot but enters this afternoon's qualifying session looking for his fourth pole position of the season. The Brazilian has led every lap en route to the victory in each of the three previous races he has started from the pole this season and owns a total of four victories on the year.
"It was an okay session," said Matos. "We tried different setups in the car and at the end of the session, I got a lot of traffic in front of me, so I couldn't put a lap together, but I'm quite happy with the car. We've just got to make a decision on which direction we're going in qualifying. Everything seemed to be good in the car."
Matos was followed in the Saturday morning session by his Sierra Sierra Enterprises teammate, James Hinchcliffe (#9 NOCO/ProWorks). The Canadian posted a best lap at 1:27.198 (108.209 mph) and is looking for his sixth front-row starting spot in seven races this season. He is also looking for his first Atlantic victory of the season this weekend.
"I guess it was a bit of a productive session," Hinchcliffe said. We started off again, just kind of slow at the beginning, but we slowly worked with the car. We've got it pretty close. I think we're kind of struggling with the first corner here--the chicane--it's so tough to get a comfortable car over there. What the fast guys seem to be doing, I can't get my car to do and stay on the track. It was an interesting one. We learned a lot and I think we can certainly aim for the front row this afternoon."
Owner/driver Alan Sciuto (#20 The Room Store of Phoenix) posted the fourth-quickest time on Saturday morning at 1:27.255 (108.138 mph). Sciuto's best qualifying effort of the season to date was fourth at Long Beach. Ironically, Sciuto has actually posted better results in events where he starts deeper in the field. After starting fourth at Long Beach, Sciuto wound up 29th and his second-best qualifying performance of the season came for the second race of the Portland doubleheader, where he qualified sixth and finished 29th.
Junior Strous (#16 Shell/Best Box/HTP/Red, White & Bluezz USA) made it two Condor Motorsports cars in the top five with a best lap at 1:27.270 (108.120 mph). The Dutch rookie's best Atlantic qualifying effort to date was ninth at Long Beach, but he has finished inside the top 13 in all of his five Atlantic starts. He missed Round 3 at Houston due to a wrist injury sustained in a crash at Long Beach.
The top 10 cars turned laps within one second of the leader in the Saturday morning session.
Pos Driver Car# Lap Time Behind Leader
1 Franck Perera 11 1:26.713 0.000
2 Raphael Matos 6 1:27.181 0.468
3 James Hinchcliffe 9 1:27.198 0.485
4 Alan Sciuto 20 1:27.255 0.542
5 Giacomo Ricci 18 1:27.270 0.557
6 Jonathan Bomarito 23 1:27.277 0.564
7 Ryan Lewis 15 1:27.502 0.789
8 J.R. Hildebrand 36 1:27.586 0.873
9 Carl Skerlong 24 1:27.596 0.883
10 Junior Strous 16 1:27.667 0.954
11 Adrian Carrio 17 1:27.693 0.980
12 Matt Lee 44 1:27.716 1.003
13 Kevin Lacroix 10 1:27.751 1.038
14 Simona De Silvestro 5 1:27.783 1.070
15 David Garza 4 1:27.803 1.090
16 Robert Wickens 3 1:27.858 1.145
17 Tom Sutherland 2 1:28.004 1.291
18 Justin Sofio 26 1:28.234 1.521
19 Brian Thienes 19 1:28.451 1.738
20 Mike Forest 32 1:28.909 2.196
21 Adrien Herberts 45 1:29.109 2.396
22 Richard Heistand 37 1:29.113 2.400
23 Frankie Muniz 13 1:29.426 2.713
24 John Edwards 7 1:29.774 3.061