Bomarito Sets New Atlantic Track Record
Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda points leader Jonathan Bomarito continued his hot streak in final qualifying for the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières and extended his points lead in record fashion.
Driving the No. 26 Del Taco/Stone Brewing/Discount Tire/RLM Investments entry for Mathiasen Motorsports, Bomarito broke the Atlantic Championship track record at the historic, 1.521-mile temporary street circuit with a lap at 58.989 seconds (92.824 mph). The lap eclipsed the previous record of 59.296 seconds (92.343 mph) set by 35th Anniversary Atlantic Championship All-Star Team member A.J. Allmendinger in his championship-winning season of 2003.
It is the third pole position of the season for Bomarito and the fourth of his Atlantic career, and his bonus point for taking the pole in final qualifying moved him six points ahead of Canadian James Hinchcliffe in the championship standings. Bomarito now leads the standings with 160 points to Hinchcliffe’s 154 markers heading into Sunday’s eighth round of the 11-race 2008 Atlantic Championship season. The American will be looking for his third victory of the season and is looking to become the 10th consecutive Atlantic driver to win at Trois-Rivières after starting from the pole position.
“What an amazing session, really,” Bomarito said. “We had it pretty much mapped out before we even went out and we stuck to the game plan. We made a good change on pit lane. It was a perfect session. I can’t thank the guys enough. The whole Mathiasen Motorsports team is amazing. We’ve got Atlantic legend Dave Empringham here working with us this weekend. It’s really good to finally work with him on a race weekend. It’s just been a lot of fun. We’re enjoying it, we’ve got great momentum and we’re looking forward to a good race tomorrow.”
Bomarito and rookie Jonathan Summerton have combined to win each of the last four Atlantic races and Summerton joined Bomarito on the front row with a lap at 59.288 seconds (92.356 mph) in the No. 36 Newman Wachs Racing machine. It was the best qualifying performance of Summerton’s Atlantic career, topping a previous best starting spot of third in the first race of the doubleheader at Edmonton three weeks ago. In addition to his two victories, Summerton has finished sixth or better in five of his seven starts this season.
“Of course, qualifying second, my best qualifying yet, was really good,” Summerton said. “We were going for that pole position, but we just didn’t quite have it today. We put the new set of tires on really early, and basically, I don’t know what happened, but we had a little bit of a change in the setup, I guess, from the old to the new. I was told to stay out and just keep running laps. It was a lot of fun, to say the least. I’m really happy to be second out there.”
Also turning in the best qualifying result of his Atlantic career was Canadian rookie Daniel Morad, who will start third in the No. 70 Metro Directories of Georgia/Grapeking entry for Eurointernational. Morad logged a best lap at 59.373 seconds (92.224 mph) to secure the inside of Row 2 on the grid. His previous best starting spot was seventh for the second race of the Edmonton doubleheader, and he heads into Sunday’s race looking to improve on a season-best race result of sixth from the season-opener at Long Beach in April.
“It feels good to be here, first off,” Morad said. “I think this is where I like to be. The team did a great job. All weekend we’ve been fairly quick and we have good pace. We just got off to a good start. That made the difference, really, because all the previous weekends, we’ve just had bad luck. We’re a brand new team and we’re having problems like all new teams do have. It’s good to be here. Our strategy in qualifying was perfect. We put the tires on at the right time and the car, what can I say? It was perfect. My engineer set the car up perfectly. I made a few mistakes here and there, but I think tomorrow for the race, we should be okay. I’ll try to go for the big one. I haven’t been here before, but I think now is the time. I think I’ll take the win tomorrow.”
Rookie Dane Cameron will start fourth in the No. 19 MAZDASPEED/Finlay Motorsports/Lynx Racing machine for Genoa Racing. The American registered a best lap at 59.407 seconds (92.171 mph) to secure his fourth top-four starting spot in the last five races.
Markus Niemela made it four rookies in the top five with a lap at 59.474 seconds (92.067 mph) in the No. 8 Mr. Jones Bar & Kitchen/Rauma Town/Turku Karting entry for Brooks Associates Racing. The Finnish driver is currently third in the overall championship standings, trailing Bomarito by nine points, and he leads the Rookie of the Year point standings by 16 over Summerton.
The top-12 qualifiers were covered by less than a second.
• Despite turning the quickest laps in practice on both Friday and Saturday morning, Carl Skerlong will start the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières from sixth on the grid with a lap at 59.481 seconds (92.056 mph). It is just the second time this season that Skerlong did not qualify within the top-four positions.
• After posting top-three times in Friday’s provisional qualifying session, Forsythe/Pettit Racing teammates James Hinchcliffe and David Martinez will start seventh and 10th, respectively. Hinchcliffe, who was third on Friday, posted a best lap at 59.484 seconds (92.052 mph) in the No. 3 Indeck/Tire Rack/NOCO machine.
• Venezuelan rookie Luis Schiavo earned his best qualifying result to date with a lap at 1:00.062 (91.166 mph) in the No. 46 Constructora Iriaca/Astaltatora Maracay/Transporte Jumbo/Energy Freight System machine for Eurointernational, which was good for 13th on the grid. His previous best starting positions were 14th in both races of the Road America doubleheader last weekend.
• Following the post-qualifying press conference, Atlantic Championship President Vicki O’Connor and two-time Atlantic champion David Empringham participated in a press conference to announce the 35th Anniversary Atlantic Championship All-Star Team. Their comments follow below:
VICKI O’CONNOR: “It was fun putting this team together. We wanted to do something and so many drivers have come through the Atlantic Championship that there are almost too many to count. We keep bringing them through, and the best drivers, hopefully, always come from Atlantic. It was sort of tough to nail it down to 10, but I’m very pleased with the vote. I’m glad David was there. We’re happy about it.”
DAVID EMPRINGHAM: “Certainly, it’s an honor to be represented with such a great group of drivers. When I think about the present, my role as a consultant and coaching in the Atlantic series and working with Mathiasen Motorsports this weekend, and particularly with Jonathan (Bomarito), it’s where my passion is now in my life. But when I look into the past, all of my really great memories were in Atlantic and a lot of them were here in Trois-Rivières. I’ve never been a driver that’s been frustrated that I didn’t make it to IndyCar or wherever. I’ve always been proud of the company that I’ve raced against and I’ve watched many of them go on to do some very special things in motorsports. To be recognized with, first off all, the group of 25 (finalists) that were selected, and then the 10 (All-Star Team members) is a real honor.”
||Jonathan Summerton (R)
||Daniel Morad (R)
||Dane Cameron (R)
||Markus Niemela (R)
||Simona De Silvestro
||Greg Mansell (R)
||Luis Schiavo (R)
||enri Karjalainen (R)
||Douglas Soares (R)
||Dominick Muermans (R)
||Leo Mansell (R)