Edmonton: Matos on pole for race 2
Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda points leader Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks) again added to his championship lead by taking the pole position for Sunday's second race of the Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton doubleheader.
On his final qualifying lap Saturday morning, Matos posted a time of 1:05.750 (108.027 mph) to knock Franck Perera (#11 CJ Motorsport/Continental Cartage Inc.) off the top of the time charts and secure another bonus point toward the championship. He now leads Perera by 31 points, 229-198. Matos will also start second alongside Sierra Sierra Enterprises teammate James Hinchcliffe (#9 NOCO/ProWorks) in this afternoon's first race of the Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton doubleheader.
"It was unbelievable," Matos said. "I knew that we had a strong car and when it was red flag, we made some modifications in the car. The car responded pretty well to the changes we made. I was able to put a really good lap in the end. I'm just so happy that we've been improving a lot through the weekend. I think we finally found a good balance for the car. I can't thank Sierra Sierra enough. I think we're going the right way towards the championship. You've just got to keep focused and see what happens."
Perera will start second in Race #2 with a best qualifying lap at 1:06.024 (107.579 mph). The Condor Motorsports rookie is looking for his third and fourth consecutive wins in the Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton doubleheader after taking his first two career Atlantic victories in the last two races at Mont-Tremblant and Toronto. Perera starts fourth in Race #1 this afternoon.
"It was a pretty tough session, but a nice battle with Matos," said Perera. "The car is quite good. We have some setup problems again, and that's why I think the gap on the last lap is a little bit too much with Matos. He did a really good lap. It's good. You never know, it was like that in Toronto, so we'll see. The car is good for sure, and the team did a good job, so we'll see in the race."
American rookie Carl Skerlong (#24 King Taco/USRT) claimed the best Atlantic starting spot of his Atlantic career for Race #2 with a third-place performance at 1:06.452 (106.886 mph). Skerlong's previous best starting spot was fourth for Round 3 at Houston, where he also scored an Atlantic career-best race result of second. The US RaceTronics driver will start this afternoon's race from fifth on the grid.
"We knew we had a good car from yesterday," Skerlong said. "I ended up fifth, but we knew we had the speed all day. Really, it was just putting the lap together. We got some good track time and found a gap and just kind of put one together."
Jonathan Bomarito (#23 Miracle Sealants/Konica Minolta/Dynacor)--who qualified seventh for Race #1--improved three spots on the grid for Race #2 and will start fourth with a lap at 1:06.492 (106.822 mph). Adrian Carrio (#17 Carrio Cabling Company) had the best qualifying result of his Atlantic career with a fifth-place performance at 1:06.593 (106.660 mph). His previous best qualifying run was 14th at Long Beach.
Hinchcliffe, who starts from the pole for this afternoon's race, will have a much longer way to go on Sunday after turning in the 11th-quickest time in qualifying for Race #2. Hinchcliffe's best lap was 1:06.681 (106.519 mph).