Bomarito goes even faster to retain pole
Jonathan Bomarito (#23 Miracle Sealants/Konica Minolta/Dynacor) will start his 30th career Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda race from the pole position for the first time in his career after a track-record performance in final qualifying for the San Jose Grand Prix at Redback Raceway (ESPN360.com, Live, 3:30 p.m. ET).
One day after scoring the provisional pole position and guaranteeing himself a front-row starting spot, the Monterey, Calif. resident turned a best lap at 55.286 seconds (93.962 mph) in final qualifying to remain at the front of the grid. Bomarito’s lap eclipsed the previous track record of 55.495 seconds (93.608 mph) set by Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks) last year. Bomarito—who has three podium finishes this season—is looking for his first Atlantic victory since winning the 2006 season finale at Road America. It was also the first pole position for the Fresno, Calif.-based PR1 Motorsports team since the 2005 event at Denver with driver Alan Sciuto.
Bomarito is joined on the front row by Condor Motorsports rookie Franck Perera (#11 CJ Motorsport), who qualified second with a best lap at 55.544 seconds (93.526 mph). The Frenchman will start from the front row for the fifth time this season and is looking to keep his championship hopes alive for the season finale at Road America in two weeks. Perera currently trails points leader Matos by 40 points, 291-251, and needs to be within 34 points of Matos following the San Jose Grand Prix to remain in contention for the season finale.
Canadian rookie Robert Wickens (#3 Red Bull/INDECK) qualified third at 55.548 seconds (93.519 mph). It was Wickens’ best qualifying result since taking the pole position for the 2007 season-opener in Las Vegas. The 18-year-old will attempt to take his second victory of the season in Sunday’s race and his first win since Race #1 of the doubleheader at Portland International Raceway in June. Wickens has finished inside the top five in seven of his 10 starts in Atlantic competition.
Matos will start fourth with a lap at 55.566 seconds (93.489 mph), snapping his streak of front-row qualifying results at five consecutive races. Last year, the Brazilian picked up his first career Champ Car Atlantic victory in the San Jose Grand Prix and will be going for his seventh victory of the season on Sunday. If he is successful, he will clinch the 2007 championship and become the first driver since A.J. Allmendinger in 2003 to win seven races in a season.
Seventeen-year-old American rookie Matt Lee (#44 Integrated Structures) matched the best qualifying result of his Atlantic career by turning in the fifth-quickest lap at 55.723 seconds (93.225 mph). Lee also started fifth in Round 3 at Houston and will be looking for his first top-five result in Atlantic competition in the San Jose Grand Prix. Lee’s best race results thus far were runs of 10th in Las Vegas and Mont-Tremblant.
Sixteen-year-old John Edwards (#7 Red Bull/INDECK) qualified sixth at 55.726 seconds for his fourth consecutive top-10 starting spot, while J.R. Hildebrand (#36 Newman Wachs Racing) rebounded from a crash in provisional qualifying to land in the seventh position on the grid with a lap at 55.797 seconds (93.102 mph). Danish racer Ronnie Bremer (#10 Brooks Associates Racing) qualified eighth at 55.816 seconds (93.070 mph) for his first Atlantic race since Round 6 at Cleveland, while James Hinchcliffe (#9 NOCO/ProWorks) starts ninth at 55.821 seconds (93.062 mph). Dutch racer Junior Strous (#16 Shell/Best Box/HTP/Red, White & Bluezz USA) completed the top 10 at 55.823 seconds (93.058 mph). Strous is returning to Atlantic competition after sitting out the Edmonton doubleheader.
• The top-18 qualifiers turned laps within one second of Bomarito’s pole-winning time. The gap from first to 25th on the grid is 2.581 seconds.
• Despite posting top-three times in both the Friday and Saturday qualifying sessions, Englishman Ryan Lewis (#15 NCPI Solutions/Insport) will start 13th on the grid. Lewis’ best time was 55.932 seconds (92.877 mph).
• For the second consecutive qualifying session, an incident involving Swiss rookie Natacha Gachnang (#45 Paladin Motorsports) brought a premature end to the session. Today, Gachnang made contact with the Turn 3 wall with five minutes remaining.
Quotes from the Top-Three Qualifiers for the San Jose Grand Prix Follow Below:
JONATHAN BOMARITO (#23 Miracle Sealants/Konica Minolta/Dynacor) of PR1 Motorsports: “It feels absolutely amazing, probably every bit as good as my first win, actually. Mainly, talking with the engineer, when you get the race win, it’s kind of for the driver, but the pole position is a lot for the team and the engineer. I’m ecstatic. I have tons of friends and family here rooting me on. I’m just blessed to be here and I’m having a lot of fun out here this weekend.”
FRANCK PERERA (#11 CJ Motorsport) of Condor Motorsports: “It was again a really difficult qualifying, with a lot of traffic and it’s a really small track. Everybody wants to find space so it’s tough. I tried many times to go back in the pits and try to find my space. It was good, but I think I anticipated the new tires too much. I had too much locking in the end. I couldn’t do so much better. I think I lost a few tenths, which cost me the pole position for sure. It’s good to be again in the first row and Raphael (Matos) is in the second row, so he will have more trouble, for sure, for the first corner. It’s good to be in the front. I want to win the race tomorrow and we’ll see what happens for the championship. I want to thank again Condor Motorsports; they did a good job again for the track for my first time here. I also want to thank Everflux and CJ Motorsport.”
ROBERT WICKENS (#3 Red Bull/INDECK) of Red Bull Team Forsythe: “This is the first time I’ve been in the top three since Vegas when I got the pole. We had the car for the pole time today, but unfortunately, I even caught traffic on my fastest lap through Corner 6. We’ll just have to wait and see. Red Bull Team Forsythe did a great job. We’ve just been improving the car step-by-step all weekend. We started off quick, but it didn’t show in the lap times, because I wasn’t driving too well. We really think that we have a good chance at the podium. I want to finish this year like I started the year, with two podiums.”
Pos Driver Lap Time Behind
1 Jonathan Bomarito 55.286 0.000
2 Franck Perera 55.544 0.258
3 Robert Wickens 55.548 0.262
4 Raphael Matos 55.566 0.280
5 Matt Lee 55.723 0.437
6 John Edwards 55.726 0.440
7 J.R. Hildebrand 55.797 0.511
8 Ronnie Bremer 55.816 0.530
9 James Hinchcliffe 55.821 0.535
10 Junior Strous 55.823 0.537
11 Adrian Carrio 55.855 0.569
12 David Garza 55.887 0.601
13 Ryan Lewis 55.932 0.646
14 Simona De Silvestro 55.945 0.659
15 Alan Sciuto 56.055 0.769
16 Justin Sofio 56.080 0.794
17 Carl Skerlong 56.157 0.871
18 Steve Ott 56.193 0.907
19 Giacomo Ricci 56.296 1.010
20 Tom Sutherland 56.380 1.094
21 Mike Forest 56.446 1.160
22 Richard Heistand 56.588 1.302
23 Brian Thienes 56.718 1.432
24 Frankie Muniz 56.928 1.642
25 Natacha Gachnang 57.867 2.581