Gainsco Racing tops opening practice at Barber Jon Fogarty waited until the closing minutes of opening practice Thursday to set the fastest lap of the day as GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 competitors prepared for Saturday's Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park.
Fogarty unofficially broke the track record with a lap of 1:20.018 (103.477 mph) on the 2.3-mile, 17-turn circuit, driving the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Chevrolet Riley. Fogarty and co-driver Alex Gurney won here in 2007 and 2009, going on to capture the Daytona Prototype championship both times.
The race takes the green flag at 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday (SPEED, live).
Jordan Taylor was quickest in GT practice, running a lap of 1:27.327 (94.816 mph) in the No. 30 Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda RX-8 co-driven by Todd Lamb.
The new tires seemed to be worth a tremendous amount. Hopefully, that won't be the case with the other teams."
Fogarty, who ended the 2009 season with a streak of five consecutive poles, will be the favorite to begin a new streak in Friday's 15-minute qualifying session that begins at 11:40 a.m. ET.
"It's important to start up front," Fogarty said. "Hopefully, we can start out there, pull out the right strategy, have a good pit stop and send Alex out in the same position."
Scott Pruett was on top for most of the session after turning an early lap of 1:20.466 (102.900 mph) in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley co-driven by Memo Rojas.
"We expected the faster speeds with the cooler conditions and better grip," said Pruett, who won the recent Grand Prix of Miami after finishing second in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona to take the lead in the championship. "Our goal this season is to finish on the podium in every race. We're going after the championship again, and all points are important. We have a great car here and would love to bring home a victory, but if we can't do that, we'll try to bring it home second or third."
Memo Gidley was third fastest in the No. 77 Doran Racing McDonald's Ford Dallara, 1:20.904 (102.343 mph) co-driven by Dion von Moltke. Rounding out the top five were Ozz Negri, 1:20.973 (102.256 mph) in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Crown Royal XR Ford Riley co-driven by John Pew, and Ryan Dalziel, 1:21.021 (102.195 mph) in the Starworks Motorsport BMW Riley co-driven by Mike Forest.
In GT, Mazdas took five of the top six positions in the opening session, led by the lone one-car team fielding the RX-8.
"The Racers Edge guys have done a great job during the break between Homestead and Barber, and it made it easy for me right out of the box," Taylor said, "We're quick and it's looking good for the weekend."
Paul Edwards was second fastest in GT, running a lap of 1:27.717 (94.394 mph) in the No. 07 Banner Racing Corvette he shares with motorcycle legend Scott Russell. Rolex 24 At Daytona winner Sylvain Tremblay was third, 1:28.175 (93.904 mph) in the No. 70 SpeedSource Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8 co-driven by Jonathan Bomarito, followed by Leh Keen, 1:28.614 (93.438 mph) in the No. 41 Dempsey Racing/Team Seattle Mazda RX-8 co-driven by James Gue, and Joe Foster, 1:28.727 (93.319 mph) in the No. 40 Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 co-driven by Patrick Dempsey.
The Grand Prix of Miami-winning No. 69 SpeedSource FXDD Mazda RX-8 of Jeff Segal and Emil Assentato managed only one lap in the session. Segal heard an alarm and came to the pits, and the team elected to change the engine as a precaution.
Maxwell, Trinkler Fastest in Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Sessions
After completing only three laps during Thursday morning practice, Scott Maxwell and Joe Foster came back in the afternoon practice to set the fastest lap of the day in Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Grand Sport (GS) competition.
Maxwell set a time of 1:36.835 (85.506 mph) in the No. 15 Multimatic Motorsports/Bayshore Recycling Ford Mustang Boss 302R, more than a half second quicker than the Multimatic Motorsports team's closest competitor from the Rehagen Racing camp. Maxwell and Foster won the 2008 edition of the Barber 200 when they drove for Hyper Sport.
Defending series champion Ken Wilden and rookie Ryan Winchester were second in the No. 59 Rehagen Racing Products Ford Mustang GT with a time of 1:37.413 (84.999 mph). Fords have won the last two GS races at Barber.
In the Street Tuner (GS) class, RSR Motorsports driver Owen Trinkler topped the charts in morning session with a time of 1:42.049 (81.137 mph). Trinkler and team owner Randy Smalley drive the No. 196 Cruise America/4 Winds RV Mini Cooper. Second in ST were 2007 co-winner Jamie Holtom and Andrew Danyliw in the No. 21 Sick Kids Foundation/C&P Cross Border Law Chevrolet Cobalt, with a time of 1:42.272 (80.961 mph). The team did not compete in morning practice.
The Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge returns to the track for practice at 8 a.m. CT Friday, with qualifying at 9:50 a.m. CT.