Klaus Graf was taking on qualifying duties for the first time around the 2.02-mile, 12-turn street course and the German mastered the course by registering a fast lap of one minute 25.290 seconds. His time was 1.4 seconds faster than the second place Dyson Racing car.
The Muscle Milk driver placed himself atop the time charts on his third fastest lap and sat there until the end of the session, improving his lap time two more times before heading to pit lane following his sixth and fastest lap.
The pole position was the fourth consecutive one for the team and the second this season for Graf. It was also his 10th career American Le Mans Series pole.
Muscle Milk Pickett Racing will be back in action at 10:10 am ET for the morning warm up prior to the afternoon race start.
After being sidelined with a broken wrist suffered in an IndyCar race last month, Level 5 Motorsports driver Ryan Briscoe returned to American Le Mans Series action in style by claiming the LMP2 pole position for Saturday’s Grand Prix of Baltimore.
Briscoe will join team principal Scott Tucker in one of two Level 5 Siemens/Alpina Watches/Ohiya Casino Resort-sponsored Honda Performance Development ARX-03b prototypes for the 2-hour street race around Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
“I love it here!" Briscoe said. “It’s one of the most challenging and one of the more physical tracks we come to. But I am really proud of the guys. It’s great to be back in the series and to start off with a pole today."
Level 5 continues its quest for a third consecutive ALMS P2 championship this weekend at a circuit where the team has enjoyed a great deal of success. Last year’s Grand Prix of Baltimore saw Level 5 earn its first ever 1-2 overall finish in ALMS competition.
“We had a phenomenal race last year and showed what this organization is capable of," said Tucker. “So we feel good coming back here and we have worked hard to prepare for another difficult race. We’ve got Ryan back and you can see what that means to our team with his amazing qualifying run."
Level 5’s Marino Franchitti qualified the team’s second car, the No. 552 HPD ARX-03b, in the fourth position. He will be joined by the newest addition, Guy Cosmo. Cosmo, the 2005 ALMS rookie of the year and former Star Mazda champion, joined the team earlier this week and has adapted quickly to the Level 5 organization and its HPD prototypes.
“I’m very comfortable in the HPD race car," Cosmo said. “So that transition is no problem at all. And the Level 5 team is so professional and well organized that they have made everything else go as smooth as possible. I feel like this is really an environment I can excel in and I am looking forward to finishing out the season strong."
At two hours in duration, this year’s race has been shortened by 45 minutes. But the tight and very rough city street circuit still presents a formidable challenge for Team Manager David Stone and the entire Level 5 crew.
“Because this track is comprised of city streets, you have very rough and inconsistent surface conditions to contend with," Stone said. “It is physically very demanding on the car and the driver. Even shortened to two hours it is still a very difficult race."
Adding more pressure to the crew is the limited track time available for practice. That leaves little time for adjustments or addressing issues with the car.
“It’s so tough to get laps and work on the cars in such a short schedule," said Team Strategist Jeff Braun. “So unloading with a good set up is important. The engineers did some good work here as we have made very few changes."
When the green flag drops, the Greg Pickett-led squad will be chasing its record setting sixth win in a row and they will also be trying to clinch the ALMS P1 Team and Driver Championships by completing 70% of the race distance.
The Grand Prix of Baltimore will go green on Saturday, August 31 at 3:45 pm ET with live online coverage on ESPN3.com. The race will be broadcast on tape-delay starting at Noon ET on Sunday, September 1.
For more information on Pickett Racing please visit www.pickettracingteam.com. Muscle Milk Quotes
Klaus Graf – driver #6 Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03c
"The Muscle Milk car performed really well in qualifying today. We made a lot of changes in the practice sessions. I think the track changed quite a bit throughout the day, especially with the Indy cars running as well before qualifying.
"There was a lot of grip and you could tell by the lap times that everyone was running faster and faster. The difficulty is for the drivers to anticipate the grip level and we were just getting quicker and quicker every lap.
"Based on our information from this morning and the way the track changed we made the right decisions and changes. The Michelin tires came in perfectly as well, so it was a good session for me, I was quite pleased with the car."
|1||1||P1||6||Klaus Graf||HPD ARX-03a||M||1:25.290||– – –||0.00s|
|2||2||P1||16||Chris Dyson||Lola B12/60||M||1:26.750||1.46s||1.46s|
|3||1||P2||551||Ryan Briscoe||HPD ARX-03b||M||1:27.170||1.88s||0.42s|
|4||2||P2||02||Johannes van Overbeek||HPD ARX-03b||M||1:27.669||2.38s||0.50s|
|5||3||P2||01||Scott Sharp||HPD ARX-03b||M||1:27.818||2.53s||0.15s|
|6||1||PC||52||Dane Cameron||ORECA FLM09||C||1:28.235||2.95s||0.42s|
|7||4||P2||552||Marino Franchitti||HPD ARX-03b||M||1:28.335||3.05s||0.10s|
|8||2||PC||8||Kyle Marcelli||ORECA FLM09||C||1:28.518||3.23s||0.18s|
|9||3||PC||05||Colin Braun||ORECA FLM09||C||1:28.716||3.43s||0.20s|
|10||4||PC||9||Bruno Junqueira||ORECA FLM09||C||1:29.081||3.79s||0.37s|
|11||1||GT||55||Bill Auberlen||BMW Z4 GTE||M||1:29.560||4.27s||0.48s|
|12||2||GT||56||Joey Hand||BMW Z4 GTE||M||1:29.795||4.51s||0.24s|
|13||3||GT||4||Tommy Milner||Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1||M||1:30.007||4.72s||0.21s|
|14||4||GT||06||Patrick Long||Porsche 911 GT3 RSR||M||1:30.104||4.81s||0.10s|
|15||5||GT||3||Jan Magnussen||Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1||M||1:30.132||4.84s||0.03s|
|16||6||GT||17||Wolf Henzler||Porsche 911 GT3 RSR||F||1:30.238||4.95s||0.11s|
|17||7||GT||91||Marc Goossens||SRT Viper GTS-R||M||1:30.599||5.31s||0.36s|
|18||8||GT||62||Olivier Beretta||Ferrari F458 Italia||M||1:30.900||5.61s||0.30s|
|19||9||GT||48||Marco Holzer||Porsche 911 GT3 RSR||M||1:31.352||6.06s||0.45s|
|20||10||GT||93||Kuno Wittmer||SRT Viper GTS-R||M||1:31.358||6.07s||0.01s|
|21||11||GT||23||Townsend Bell||Ferrari F458 Italia||Y||1:31.494||6.20s||0.14s|
|22||5||PC||18||Tristan Nunez||ORECA FLM09||C||1:32.234||6.94s||0.74s|
|23||1||GTC||22||Jeroen Bleekemolen||Porsche 911 GT3 Cup||Y||1:34.322||9.03s||2.09s|
|24||2||GTC||45||Spencer Pumpelly||Porsche 911 GT3 Cup||Y||1:34.515||9.23s||0.19s|
|25||3||GTC||30||Sean Edwards||Porsche 911 GT3 Cup||Y||1:34.602||9.31s||0.09s|
|26||4||GTC||66||Damien Faulkner||Porsche 911 GT3 Cup||Y||1:34.781||9.49s||0.18s|
|27||6||PC||7||Rusty Mitchell||ORECA FLM09||C||1:34.905||9.62s||0.12s|
|28||5||GTC||68||Kevin Estre||Porsche 911 GT3 Cup||Y||1:34.949||9.66s||0.04s|
|29||6||GTC||11||Jan Heylen||Porsche 911 GT3 Cup||Y||1:35.371||10.08s||0.42s|
|30||7||GTC||44||Dion von Moltke||Porsche 911 GT3 Cup||Y||1:35.496||10.21s||0.13s|
|31||8||GTC||27||Andy Lally||Porsche 911 GT3 Cup||Y||1:35.501||10.21s||0.01s|