Pontiacs Qualify High At Miller Motorsports Park

02.09.2006: Pontiacs Qualify High At Miller Motorsports Park

Alex Gurney Posts Third-Fastest Daytona Prototype Lap Time for Pontiac in Qualifying and is One of Five Pontiacs in Top 10; Pontiac GTO.Rs Qualify 2-3-4

Both Daytona Prototype (DP) and GT-class Pontiacs qualified well for the final race of the 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve. In the Daytona Prototype class, Alex Gurney was third fastest taking his No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley through the track at Miller Motorsports Park with a time of 2:38.253 (102.049 mph) - he was the fastest Pontiac out of five in the top 10. In the GT class, the three Pontiac GTO.Rs ran 2-3-4 with driver co-champion hopeful Andy Lally leading the pack.

"We've been a little bit off thus far so we're happy with the way we ran," said Gurney, who will share his car with Jon Fogarty and Jimmy Vasser. "We kept massaging it and getting it a little better each time and I got in a really clean, good lap. We think we have a good race setup too; we will change it a little bit tonight. Position right now doesn't really matter; it's a nine-hour race."

Scott Pruett in the No. 01 Lexus Riley took the pole position with a lap of 2:38.612 (101.818 mph) followed by Mike Rockenfeller in the No. 23 Porsche Crawford. Then came Gurney and Oswaldo Negri in the No. 60 Lexus Riley. Max Angelelli (No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley), who will fight for a driver championship in tomorrow's endurance race, rounded out the top five just ahead of driver points leader Jörg Bergmeister.

"The race is long, but I'm disappointed," said Angelelli, who had hoped for an even higher grid position. "It's not the place that I wanted to be. I think we have a very good race car though and we'll see tomorrow. The key to tomorrow is to be fast throughout the race and to be there at the end."

Other Pontiacs in the top 10 were Ryan Dalziel in the #89 PCM/Vonage/Playboy/Palms Pontiac Riley (seventh), Marc Goosens in the No. 11 CITGO Racing by SAMAX Pontiac Riley (eighth) and Mario Haberfeld in the No. 12 Lowe's Fernandez Pontiac Riley.

In the GT class, Pontiac's three GTO.Rs, the No. 65 TRG/F1 Air GTO.R, the No. 64 TRG/iRise GTO.R and the No. 05 Sigalsport GTO.R placed second, third and fourth, respectively. Andy Lally in the #65 machine led the trio with Paul Edwards and veteran Trans-Am racer Tommy Kendall in fourth. Pole was won by Wolf Henzler in the No. 72 Porsche.

"We did pretty well but I don't think we had a pole car," said Lally. "We had a bunch of understeer that we didn't have here before. We need to make some adjustments and work that out of the car tomorrow morning and that's something the guys will fix; I'm not worried about it. I'm honestly not too worried about tomorrow either - we'll need a lap under green to win the manufacturers championship and finish fourth (if the No. 72 Porsche wins) to get team and driver championships."

Veteran road racer Tommy Kendall was highly pleased with the performance of the GTO.R. He qualified the car for the fourth spot on the grid behind Paul Edwards.

"I wasn't even worried about qualifying going into this," said Kendall. "This morning the Porsche (No. 72) ran a 2:53.9 lap and we had a time of 2:57.1 and now we're the closest we've been. Go figure.

"We just have to not make any mistakes. For me, I noticed at Sears Point (Infineon Raceway), driving it wasn't that hard, it was the little things, like not losing any time when a string of DPs go by you or getting driver changes right - I haven't done them in a long time. Since I stopped in 1997, I haven't pursued driving at all. But this was a great opportunity for me. I like the car - it feels more like a small Nextel Cup car than a Trans-Am car."

The 15th and final leg of the 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series season, the Discount Tire Sunchaser, is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 2 at 12 p.m. MDT. Parts of the race will be broadcast live on SPEED TV: the first part will be shown at 2:00 p.m. EDT and the conclusion at 6:00 p.m. EDT.

Friday DP Qualifying results

1 01 Lexus Riley Pruett/Diaz/Dixon
2 23 Porsche Crawford Rockenfeller/Kelleners/Borcheller
3 99 Pontiac Riley Gurney/Fogarty/Vasser
4 60 Lexus Riley Negri/Patterson
5 10 Pontiac Riley Angelelli/Taylor/Hunter-Reay
6 76 Ford Riley Bergmeister/Braun/Jonsson
7 89 Pontiac Riley Dalziel/Figge/Empringham
8 11 Pontiac Riley Goossens/Duno/Johansson
9 12 Pontiac Riley Haberfeld/Fernandez/Meira
10 19 Ford Crawford Gidley/McDowell/Cosmo

Friday GT Qualifying results

1 72 Porsche GT3 Cup Henzler/Liddell/Davis
2 65 Pontiac GTO.R Lally/Bunting/Pumpelly
3 64 Pontiac GTO.R Edwards/Collins/Wilson
4 05 Pontiac GTO.R Kendall/Sigal/MacLeod
5 74 Porsche GT3 Cup James/Tafel/Lux
6 57 Corvette Cicero II/Riggins/Rice
7 62 Ferarri F430 CH Wagner/Pruitt/Quaid
8 80 Porsche GT3 Cup Murry/Keen
9 17 Porsche GT3 Cup Lacey/Wilkins/Bell
10 66 Porsche GT3 Cup Pace/Valentine/Lowe

- Steve Smith -

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02.09.2006 / MaP

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