Donohue Captures Rolex 24 At Daytona Pole
Donohue turned in a lap of 1:40.540 (127.472 mph) in the No. 58 Brumos Porsche Riley he will share with Darren Law, Buddy Rice and Antonio Garcia. The race will take the green flag at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. FOX will open live network coverage at 3 p.m. Saturday. SPEED will resume coverage at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, continuing until 10 p.m. Sunday coverage on SPEED will run from 7 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Bernhard was at the wheel of Penske Racing's No. 16 Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Porsche Riley, turning a lap of 1:50.541 (127.470 mph) in the Daytona Prototype he shares with Romain Dumas and Ryan Briscoe.
"Actually, winning the pole was a bit of a surprise," said Donohue. "We had a bit of a problem with traffic on what I thought was my fastest lap. We were having an electrical gremlin, so I didn't know how quick I was running. The team told me I was P-1, but I didn't know by how much and what to do with the tires. But I said it before, all that counts is where you are at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday."
Donohue joins his father, the late Mark Donohue, as a pole winner of the event. The elder Donohue won the pole for Penske Racing in 1971. The pair join Dan and Alex Gurney as father-son pole winners for America's most prestigious sports car race.
While Donohue wasn't sure of his position in qualifying, Bernhard thought he was atop the charts.
"I knew I put down a pretty good lap, and when they give me the time I thought it would be good enough for the pole," said Bernhard, overall winner of the 2003 Rolex 24. "Then they told me it was very close, but I was second, but by that time my tires were done. It was a great result for Penske Racing. It's a new series for us in Grand-Am, and we're already very competitive. Looking at it that way, P-2 is a very good result."
Starting from the second row will be Michael Valiante, posting a time of 1:40.651 (127.331 mph) in the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley, and Richard Zonta, with a time of 1:40.892 (127.027 mph) in the No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Lola.
Scott Pruett, seeking a third consecutive victory in the Rolex 24 and fourth in a row for TELMEX/Target Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, will start sixth after running a lap of 1:41.016 (126.495 mph) in the No. 01 Lexus Riley.
"That's about what we expected to run in qualifying," said Pruett. "For 24 hours, it's not going to make a difference. The Ganassi guys have done a great job, as always, and we've got a great car for the race. With a little bit of luck, the TELMEX No. 01 car will be fighting for the victory at the end."
Alex Gurney, the 2007 Rolex 24 pole winner, will start 11th in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley co-driven by three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, Jon Fogarty and Jimmy Vasser.
The No. 2 Childress-Howard Motorsports Pontiac Crawford of Danica Patrick, Casey Mears, Rob Finlay and three-time Rolex 24 winner Andy Wallace lost an engine during Friday's practice and failed to qualify. They will start the race 18th, at the back of the Daytona Prototype grid.
In GT, Sylvain Tremblay captured the Rolex 24 pole for the second consecutive year in dramatic fashion, waiting until near the end of the session to turn a track record lap of 1:49.455 (117.100) in the No.70 SpeedSource Castrol Syntec Mazda RX. Tremblay and Nick Ham will be seeking their second consecutive GT victory in the Rolex 24, and fourth consecutive triumph at Daytona - all from the pole position. David Haskell and Jonathan Bomarito will co-drive in the Rolex 24.
"We were short by about three- or four-tenths, and I had to do quite a bit of work to make it happen," Tremblay said. "I could see that that last lap had potential. I kept my head down and drove as hard as I've ever driven here to try to get that lap. I know it doesn't mean much for a 24-hour race, but it means a lot to the team, it means a lot to my boys and it means a lot to me."
Tremblay knocked Andy Lally off the pole, after the driver of the No. 67 TRG Porsche GT3 turned in a lap of 1:49.450 (116.998 mph) early in the session.
Martin Ragginger, Jeff Segal and Wolf Henzler rounded out the top five GT qualifiers.
Thursday's qualifying locked in the top 40 positions for the Rolex 24. Final qualifying will be held Friday at 11 a.m., followed by the Fresh From Florida 200 Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge race.
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