- 27 July 2019
Favorable weather and a deep F1600 field setup a dicey and intense qualifying session. As the green flag flew, a pack of twelve cars streamed by the start finish line, and drivers jockeyed to get into a position where they could produce the best times lap possible. A crash in Friday’s practice session left Josh Green in his Pelfrey entry with a heavily damaged car, but he returned to the circuit, his first laps were spent doing checks to assure that his car was fit for race pace.
Bryce Aron, set the fastest pace on Friday, and five minutes into qualifying he was again the fastest. He was followed by Rick Payne, then Dexter Czuba, and Ryan Bjerke in fourth. Lots of time remains however, and the field is starting to sort itself out. That giant shemozzle is breaking up, and there’s less passing occurring. Dexter Czuba now takes the top spot, Bryce Aron in Second, and Rick Payne in third.
At around the eleven minute mark, a number of drivers head to the pits. Something like six or seven cars sit on pit lane. As a number of cars return to the track, Keith Grant who is performing double duty in Atlantic and 1600 this weekend, found himself high centered and unable to move. A black flag all is called and the field is forced into pit lane while Grant is rescued.
The stricken Keith Grant back moving under his own power, the track is reopened for qualifying efforts. Charles Anti was one of the first to return to track, he had yet to put in a decent lap, but in practice on Friday he had great potential often running in the top five.
Seven minutes remain and the Pelfrey drivers have coalesced, surely the plan to use the draft to their advantage. Sure enough, Dexter Czuba finds some pace and is the first to drop under the two minute mark, in doing so he holds pole position with a near one second advantage. Bryce Aron holds second, Ayrton Ori is third, Keith Grant showing his potential is fourth, and Josh Green in the repaired Pelfrey entry is fifth. The Pelfrey drafting strategy is working. Josh Green, in the pull of teammate Ori, now takes the top spot and dips into the high 1:58’s. It’s worth noting that multi-race winner and championship leader, Jonathan Kotyk, was forced to retire early on. He’ll start fourteenth at best.
As the checker flag flew, it’s a miraculous return for Green and Pelfrey in taking the pole, they certainly should be proud of their performance. Dexter Czuba locks out the Pelfrey front row, Bryce Aron is third, Ayrton Ori fourth, and Keith Grant in fifth represents the fastest Master’s entry.