SBN at Thunderbolt, Q1: Daly’s First Pole

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Friday, August 29, 2008

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It took him 11 races — three of which he’s won — but Conor Daly finally earned his first pole position in the Skip Barber National, in qualifying for race one at NJMP’s Thunderbolt Raceway.

MILLVILLE, N.J. – With the entrance-end of the pitwall extended 240 feet further upstream, accomplished overnight, Thunderbolt Raceway was ready to go Friday early a.m. The day began with a damp-track practice session for the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda, where Josef Newgarden was the only one into the :33s, leading a gaggle of 1:34s.

Four hours later came qualifying for Saturday’s race one. Conor Daly, who had been quickest in the only other practice session (in the dry, Thursday), circulated pretty much on his own – by choice. ”This isn’t a track where the draft plays a major role in qualifying,” Daly said. ”I didn’t want to get caught up in any games, so I wanted to be out there solo.” The pole was Daly’s first in Skip Barber National.

Two-thirds of the way through the session, Daly put up a 1:26.040 to take the pole away from Felipe Polehtto (his 1:26.424 was set on his second hot lap). Stevan McAleer and Star Mazda frontrunner Alex Ardoin geared up for a last-minute blitz; McAleer came close, coming up with a 1:26.073, while Ardoin mustered a :26.291, nipping Connor De Phillippi’s .312 and Josef Newgarden’s .374, with Polehtto’s lap-two time rounding out the first three rows.

Friday, August 29, Qualifying for race one
BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda
NJMP/Thunderbolt, 2.25-mile, 13-turn road course

1. Conor Daly, 1:26.040
2. Stevan McAleer, 1:26.073
3. Alex Ardoin, 1:26.291
4. Connor De Phillippi, 1:26.312
5. Josef Newgarden, 1:26.374
6. Felipe Polehtto, 1:26.424
7. Fabio Orsolon, 1:26.510
8. Nick Tonkin, 1:26.715
9. Peter Ludwig, 1:26.813
10. Sean Rayhall, 1:27.134
11. A.J. Riley, 1:27.279
12. Dom Bastien, 1:27.315
13. Victor Pedrosa, 1:27.401
14. Lee Carpentier, 1:27.639
15. Peter Tucker, 1:28.725

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On the other hand, Stevan McAleer missed by just .033 of a second getting his first career SBN pole…

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In prepping for the Star Mazda races scheduled for Thunderbolt in September, Alex Ardoin entered the Skip Barber Nationals here. Ardoin (blue SBF2000), who qualified third, runs in lockstep with Peter Ludwig through Thunderbolt’s last corner. Ludwig qualified ninth — and is about 2.5 times older than the rest of the National field

Rick Roso, words & pix

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