SunTrust Pontiac on pole at The Glen
Max Angelelli drove his SunTrust Pontiac Daytona Prototype (DP) to pole position for tomorrow’s round six of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 race to be run at Watkins Glen International Raceway. Paul Edwards will start from the front row in GT in his Pontiac GXP.R.
“We decided to go out at that point because it was in clear traffic before everybody else,” Angelelli said. “It was a good call. My first thought is about the team and about all of our guys. I quite frankly didn’t do much. All of the guys did everything. We lost everything just 18 days ago. Look at what they did in that time. They put everything together. I want to thank all of the people outside the team who did so much to help us like Ganassi and Penske and all of our technical partners. This is amazing and this is what they deserve. I want to give them a good race tomorrow. We were all screaming. We were all so happy. The entire SunTrust Racing team, I believe, is the best in the paddock. This is the same car we raced at Daytona. After the race we just parked the car and all of the spare parts in the shop. And the car, together with everything we had for it, was up for sale. After what happened, we just took that car, cleaned it, and brought it here. We didn’t test springs, we didn’t test gurneys, nothing. We’re looking good. I’m very optimistic for the race. ”
Eric van de Poele in the number 75 Krohn Racing Lola will start from the fourth row in eighth. Van de Poele posted a time of 1:45.771 for the cars best starting position on the season. Tracy Krohn shares the driving duties in the No. 75.
“Very good,” van de Poele said. “I had a good lap and put in a nice time. Too bad for Ricardo with his crash early in the session. For us it is a good starting position. The car is much better and we are closing the gap to our competitors. We will be good for the race. I am confident and happy.”
In the companion Krohn Racing No. 76 Ricardo Zonta was on his second qualifying lap when in turn six he lost the back of the car and it nosed into the wall, causing substantial damage to the Lola. Zonta will have to start from the back of the field for tomorrow’s race.
“I went into turn six, broke too late and the rear snapped around,” Zonta said. “The car was better than we had all day. Based on the telemetry was second lap was going to be faster. We made a lot of progress with the car from this morning. The balance of the car is good. I am sorry that I made a lot of work for the crew tonight.”
Starting next to van de Poele in the fourth row will be Riley-Matthews driver Jim Matthews. Matthews put in a time of 1:46.002 and shares the seat with Marc Goossens and Marcel Tiemann.
“I had one flying lap,” Matthews said. “A lot of the other fast guys were out there, so this is a good starting position for us. The car seemed a little flat down the straight so the guys are going to change the engine which we planned to do anyway. The car is good and we will be looking to be consistent and make no mistakes tomorrow like we have all season.”
In the No. 16 Cask No. 16 Coyote Pontiac Antonio Garcia put in a time of 1:46.425 good for a fifth row starting spot for tomorrow. Garcia and teammates Mateo Bobbi and Fabio Babini will be looking to move to race their way to the front.
“I went out with the first group of cars and when I came around on my first (and only) qualifying lap I got caught up in some traffic from other cars and let up a bit,” Garcia said. “I thought that I would be able to make a better time on the next lap, but as it turns out, we never got that chance. I’m not angry… it just drives home the fact that in Grand-Am qualifying, you need to make every lap count.”
Alex Gurney in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Motorsports Pontiac will start from the back of the field in 16th place. Gurney sat in pit lane for 30 or 40 seconds waiting for a clear track. The hesitation cost the team a front pack qualifying position. In practice the red Pontiac was a steady top five runner. The time of 1:52.720 was not indicative of the speed of the No. 99. Gurney and teammate Jon Fogarty are the defending race winners.
“We were all super frustrated that we didn’t get to qualify,” said Gurney. “We got half a lap, so I guess that was just the way the schedule fell. It's disappointing but it is a six-hour event so it doesn’t matter that much, but I definitely felt we had a good chance at the pole. We were on a very quick lap so it is disappointing to say the least.”
In GT Paul Edwards drove his Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R to a front row starting position. His time of 1:52.850 will have him starting second. Together with teammate Kelly Collins the duo has won three races this season and lead the GT drivers points chase.
“We put on a new set of tires at the end of the last practice,” Edwards said. “I think this is the first time we have ever done that. After that practice we made some pretty bold setup moves and the car was the best it had been all day. We put in only the minimal amount of fuel to keep the weight of the car down and I was able to get a clear lap and put in a good time. Since I haven’t qualified the car all year I drove it a little over my head and was able to keep it under me. I am not sure if I could repeat that lap.”
In the No. 57 Stevenson Pontiac GXP.R Andrew Davis posted a time of 1:53.561 good for a fourth row starting position. Davis and Robin Liddell have won two races on the season at Mexico City and Virginia International Raceway.
“We have made a lot of progress all day with the car,” Davis said. “We made a change before qualifying which helped. We knew we wouldn’t be too strong in the qualifying session, but the race is six hours long. We look good for the race. We will keep it out front, play the strategy and look for a good result.”
In the No. 72 Autohaus Motorsports Pontiac, Lawson Aschenbach fought through traffic to qualify 10th with a time of 1:54.234. Aschenbach shares the GXP.R with Tim Lewis Jr.
“I couldn’t get a clean lap,” Aschenbach said. “People were slow, going off. I just couldn’t get a clear track. With our extra weight the car is pretty slow down the straight. We were slow before and now we are more so. The car has been pretty good all day. It is frustrating when you have such a good car and you can’t get a clear lap. I feel bad for the guys.”
Andy Pilgrim took to the controls of the No. 06 Banner Pontiac. Pilgrim put in a time of 1:54.418 and will start from the seventh row. Pilgrim joins team owner Leighton Reese and Marc Bunting for the six-hours.
“I had traffic every lap,” Pilgrim said. “My warm-up lap was good, that was about it. I went a second faster than I did in the previous practice and probably had a few more tenths in the car. I would get a good lap and then traffic or someone would go off. The car is good. It was just frustrating not to get the car further up the field for the start.”
Mike Forest qualified the PR1Motorsports Pontiac in 20th with a time of 1:56.514. Forest and teammate Thomas Merrill are making their first start at the historic Watkins Glen circuit.
“Not great,” Forest said. “The car felt good. I have a lack of experience at this track so I was just trying to get the best out of the tires. The heat of the day also had something to do with it. I like the track and we focused on trying to learn the fast line during practice today. I am looking forward to running the longest race of my career, so far, tomorrow and being consistent for a good finish.”
The race will be televised on the SPEED Channel in two segments, the first starting at 11:00 a.m. and then rejoining the action at 2:30 p.m.
Grand-Am Top Ten Daytona Prototype Qualifiers:
1. Angelelli, Valiante, Pontiac Riley 1:42.888
2. Frisselle, Wilkins, Ford Riley 1:43.005
3. Gidley, Jaeger, Ford Dallara 1:43.055
4. Donohue, Law, Porsche Riley 1:43.750
5. James, Pew, Ford Riley 1:44.034
6. Auberlen, Hand, Porsche Crawford 1:44.760
7. Camirand, Cosmo, Borcheller, Porsche Coyote 1:45.672
8. van de Poele, Krohn, Pontiac Lola 1:45.771
9. Matthews, Goossens, Tiemann, Pontiac Riley 1:46.002
10. Lewis, Lester, Lexus Riley 1:46.114
11. Garcia, Bobbi, Babini, Pontiac Coyote 1:46.425
16. Gurney, Fogarty, Pontiac Riley 1:52.720
19. Zonta, Jonsson, Pontiac Lola – no time
Top 10 Grand-Am GT Qualifiers:
Pontiac Powered DP and GT Cars Entered for Watkins Glen:
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