A.J. Allmendinger strengthened his grip on the 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship again in provisional qualifying at Toronto's Exhibition Place by establishing a new track record of 1:05.447secs.

The RuSPORT rookie has not failed to start outside the top three in any of the previous six events on the 2003 Toyota Atlantic schedule, and extended that streak to seven consecutive races by virtue of his performance on Friday, as he is guaranteed a front row starting position.

Allmendinger also managed to grow his lead in the point standings by another marker as a result of his performance and now leads Sierra Sierra Enterprises driver Ryan Dalziel by 16 points heading into Round 7 of the 12-race series. Allmendinger's lap was the fastest ever for a Toyota Atlantic car on the 1.755-mile temporary street circuit in Toronto, eclipsing the previous record of 1:05.578 (96.343 mph) established by 2002 Toyota Atlantic champion Jon Fogarty last year.

"It was a tough session because it was going to be a bit of a guessing game with the weather and the car wasn't really balanced right," said the 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series Champion. "But it really helped having raced here last year in the Barber Dodge Pro Series because I could get comfortable and start pushing right away. We thought it might rain, sop we pushed hard from the start to get a fast lap in."

Allmendinger was joined on the provisional front row by his RuSPORT teammate Aaron Justus, who was second quickest in the session at 1:05.943secs. Justus' equalled his previous best qualifying position in the provisional round on Friday, as he also started second in the Argent Mortgage Toyota Atlantic race at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. He has also finished inside the top five in five of the six races thus far in 2003.

"It was a bit of a challenge because this was the first time out on a dry track," added Justus. "It took us the first half of the session to get a good read on the car and find where I could really push hard and press on the track. The car didn't get perfect, but it's good to be on the front row for now."

Qualifying third on the provisional grid was defending Molson Indy Toronto champion Michael Valiante, who posted a best lap of 1:05.982secs. Valiante is looking for his second straight top three starting position, as he also started second at last weekend's Argent Mortgage Toyota Atlantic 100k at Cleveland. The Lynx Racing pilot is also hoping to bring Lynx Racing its third consecutive win at Exhibition Place, as David Rutledge began the run of success for Lynx in 2001, and Valiante made it two-in-a-row for the team last year.

Valiante is also among the drivers looking to extend the streak of victories for Canadian drivers at Toronto to five consecutive races, dating to Alex Tagliani's win in front of his countrymen in 1998. The other Canadian to win at Toronto was Andrew Bordin in 2000, as there was no Toyota Atlantic event here in 1999.

"We think we had a minor gearbox and brake problem, so we think the car can go faster," stated Valiante. "But the car wasn't too bad and we were able to run third today. Hopefully it won't rain tomorrow so that we can get a chance to go faster."

Dalziel claimed fourth on the provisional grid with a best lap of 1:06.495secs, and will extend his streak of top four starting positions to six consecutive races if he is able to stay within the top four following Saturday morning's final qualifying session. The Scot is also looking to extend his streak of podium finishes to five races in the Molson Indy Toronto on Saturday afternoon.

Local favourite Jonathan Macri rounded out the top five at 1:06.656secs. The Gormley, Ontario native is still seeking his first career Toyota Atlantic victory, but equalled his career best result with a second place run here last year. He also finished second last weekend in Cleveland.

Placing his car sixth on the provisional starting grid was Patrick Racing rookie Alex Figge at 1:06.755secs, while rookie Bryan Sellers is poised to take the best starting position of his young Toyota Atlantic career after putting his car seventh on the provisional grid at 1:06.812secs. DSTP Motorsports driver Joey Hand filled the eighth spot on the provisional starting grid at 1:06.820secs, with Danica Patrick ninth at 1:07.183secs, and Luis Diaz filling out the top 10 at 1:07.211secs.