Edwards beats Perera for provisional pole
On his final lap of provisional qualifying on Friday, 16-year-old American rookie John Edwards (#7 Red Bull/INDECK) broke the Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda qualifying record at Road America and took the provisional pole for Sunday’s season finale, the Generac Grand Prix (ESPN360.com, Live, 12:45 p.m. ET).
Edwards posted a best qualifying lap at 1:59.247 (122.207 mph) to earn himself a championship point and a guaranteed position on the front row for Sunday’s race. The lap eclipsed the previous Atlantic qualifying record of 1:59.504 (121.944 mph) established by Ryan Dalziel in 2004. The front-row spot will be the best of Edwards’ Atlantic career, topping a previous best qualifying performance of fifth in Round 2 at Long Beach.
The last-lap flyer by the American teenager dropped French rookie Franck Perera (#11 CJ Motorsport/Everflux/Perfect Nutrition) to second on the provisional grid. Perera’s best lap was 1:59.547 (121.900 mph). The Condor Motorsports driver has started each of the last three Atlantic races from the front row and will enter Sunday’s race riding a streak of seven consecutive podium results. He is also the only driver in the series to have finished every race inside the top-five positions.
Defending Road America race-winner Jonathan Bomarito (#23 Miracle Sealants/Konica Minolta/Dynacor) qualified third with a lap at 1:59.737 (121.707 mph). Last year’s victory was Bomarito’s first in Atlantic competition and he recently added a second victory in a dominating performance from the pole position two weeks ago in the San Jose Grand Prix. The American racer from PR1 Motorsports has finished first and second in each of the last two races and is looking to close out his season with a flourish.
Alan Sciuto (#20 WS Deans/The Room Store) made it three Americans in the top-four spots on the provisional grid with a lap at 1:59.916 (121.525 mph). Sciuto will be looking to match or exceed his best starting spot of the season of fourth in Round 4 at Long Beach. Sciuto is making his third Atlantic start at Road America.
Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks) rounded out the top five with a lap at 2:00.027 (121.413 mph). Matos clinched the 2007 Atlantic title and the $2 million prize toward a 2008 Champ Car World Series ride last time out at San Jose, and is looking for his seventh victory of the season this weekend. If he is successful, it will be the most victories in a single Atlantic season since A.J. Allmendinger also won seven races in his championship season of 2003.
Italy’s Giacomo Ricci (#18 Banca Italease/Gioco del Lotto/Global Pesca/Abbey Resort) qualified sixth at 2:00.157 (121.281 mph). American rookie Matt Lee (#44 Integrated Structures) was seventh at 2:00.160 (121.278 mph) followed by the only woman in the field, Swiss rookie Simona De Silvestro (#5 Miauton) at 2:00.314 (121.123 mph). James Hinchcliffe (#9 ProWorks) was ninth at 2:00.384 (121.053 mph) and Tom Sutherland (#2 ClickAway Computer) filled out the top 10 at 2:00.389 (121.048 mph).
• Canadian rookie Kevin Lacroix (#10 Uni-Select) qualified 12th in his return to Atlantic competition after a one-race absence. Lacroix’s best lap in the Brooks Associates Racing machine was 2:00.591 (120.845 mph).
• Tonis Kasemets (#34 Nuclear Clean Air Energy) posted the second-quickest time of the morning practice session, his first in an Atlantic machine since 2005. In the qualifying session, however, Kasemets slipped to 13th with a lap at 2:00.605 (120.831 mph).
• As part of today’s announcement that 17-year-old Patrick Barrett and 19-year-old Joel Miller were the recipients of the 2007 Team USA Scholarship, Champ Car World Series team Pacific Coast Motorsports and its junior team, U.S. RaceTronics, will give both drivers a one-day test in the USRT Atlantic car. Barrett and Miller will contest the Formula Palmer Audi Autumn Trophy this fall in England.
Quotes from the top-three drivers in provisional qualifying for the Generac Grand Prix follow below:
JOHN EDWARDS (#7 Red Bull/INDECK) of Red Bull Team Forsythe: “My last best starting place was fifth, so it feels great to finally be guaranteed a front row, but we’ll definitely be going for the real pole tomorrow. The times will obviously be faster. It’s really great to finally get the best lap of the session and be guaranteed the front-row spot. It was a really tough session. Everyone was quick, and as Franck (Perera) said, he got held up on his last lap, so I’ll have to thank the driver who held him up. It was a tough session. I was P1 for a while and then dropped back, and then came back at the gun. I was just there at the right time.”
FRANCK PERERA (#11 CJ Motorsport/Everflux/Perfect Nutrition) of Condor Motorsports: “It’s again a new track for me, but we had a really good session this morning. I had three laps behind Jonathan (Bomarito), because he won last year, so I knew that he was really quick here. I stayed a little bit behind him and I learned where I had to run. The car was really good already this morning. We dominated the practice and we had a good gap. This afternoon was again really good. On new tires I was leading with a good plan, but John (Edwards) got us on the last lap. I’m a little bit disappointed because I got blocked by somebody on my last lap, but tomorrow we have another qualifying and we’ll see what happens.”
JONATHAN BOMARITO (#23 Miracle Sealants/Konica Minolta/Dynacor) of PR1 Motorsports: “Things were pretty smooth for qualifying for the most part. I hit a little bit of traffic on my last lap, which was actually my fast lap. It could have been a little bit better. I don’t know that we would have went as quick as John (Edwards) did. It was a really good lap there at the end. We made a lot of progress from this morning’s practice to qualifying. The track is actually considerably different this year from last year. We’ve got the new Cooper Tire and the temperature, being six weeks earlier, it’s a lot hotter than it was last year. It’s really changed things drastically. We’re on the right track. We made a big jump from practice to this qualifying. Hopefully, we can do the same tomorrow and keep that forward progression.”
Pos Driver Lap Time Leader
1 John Edwards 1:59.247 0.000
2 Franck Perera 1:59.547 0.300
3 Jonathan Bomarito 1:59.737 0.490
4 Alan Sciuto 1:59.916 0.669
5 Raphael Matos 2:00.027 0.780
6 Giacomo Ricci 2:00.157 0.910
7 Matt Lee 2:00.160 0.913
8 Simona De Silvestro 2:00.314 1.067
9 James Hinchcliffe 2:00.384 1.137
10 Tom Sutherland 2:00.389 1.142
11 Robert Wickens 2:00.484 1.237
12 Kevin Lacroix 2:00.591 1.344
13 Tonis Kasemets 2:00.605 1.358
14 Justin Sofio 2:00.683 1.436
15 Junior Strous 2:00.744 1.497
16 Adrian Carrio 2:00.747 1.500
17 J.R. Hildebrand 2:00.815 1.568
18 David Garza 2:00.853 1.606
19 Ryan Lewis 2:00.958 1.711
20 Brian Thienes 2:01.309 2.062
21 Mike Forest 2:01.398 2.151
22 Carl Skerlong 2:01.425 2.178
23 Richard Heistand 2:01.652 2.405
24 Frankie Muniz 2:02.181 2.934