Laguna Seca: Acura qualifying report

BRABHAM TAKES HIS 3RD 2008 OVERALL POLE, BREAKS TRACK RECORD TO LEAD ALL-ACURA FRONT ROW FOR SATURDAY'S LAGUNA SECA FINALE MONTEREY, Calif. -- David Brabham continued his bid for American Le Mans Series "Driver of the Year" ...

BRABHAM TAKES HIS 3RD 2008 OVERALL POLE, BREAKS TRACK RECORD TO LEAD ALL-ACURA FRONT ROW FOR SATURDAY'S LAGUNA SECA FINALE

MONTEREY, Calif. -- David Brabham continued his bid for American Le Mans Series "Driver of the Year" Friday at Laguna Seca.

The Patron Highcroft Racing veteran turned in another superlative performance by breaking the Laguna Seca sports-car track record with a lap time of one minute, 10.103 seconds for an average speed of 114.928 miles per hour and the overall pole position for Saturday's four-hour Monterey Sports Car Championships on the legendary 2.238-mile, 11-turn road circuit.

The record run, bettering Sasha Maassen's old mark of114.235, was Brabham's third overall pole in 2008, his tenth ALMS career pole and his fourth in the No. 9 Patron Highcroft Acura ARX-01b LMP2 machine.

Brabham, who'll co-drive with Scott Sharp, will be seeking his fifth LMP2 class win of the 2008 ALMS campaign when the green flag drops at 2:45 p.m. PDT in the final round of the 11-race sports-car series.

Brabham fought off the challenges of his other Acura competitors and the Porsches of Penske Racing to secure the final pole position of the year. He also won overall poles at Lime Rock and Detroit this year.

A last-lap effort by Luis Diaz in the No. 15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura ARX-01b made it an all-Acura front row when the popular Mexican driver posted a lap time of 1:10.202 [114.766 m.p.h.]. Veteran Adrian Fernandez will co-drive with Diaz in Saturday's ALMS finale.

Former Indy 500 champion Gil de Ferran drove his No. 66 Panasonic ELS Acura ARX-01b to fourth overall in the 34-car starting lineup with an average speed of 114.360. The former Laguna Seca CART race winner [1995] will team with young Frenchman Simon Pagenaud Saturday as the new Acura team seeks its first ALMS victory.

Open-wheel star Tony Kanaan, the 2004 IndyCar Series champion, recorded the fifth-fastest speed at 114.172 in the No. 26 XM Satellite Radio AGR Acura ARX-01b prototype. Kanaan jumped to the top of the charts in the early portion of the 20-minute qualifying run, but the personable Brazilian had to settle for fifth at the checkered flag Friday. Kanaan will drive with Detroit Belle Isle overall winner Franck Montagny at Laguna Seca.

DAVID BRABHAM (#9 Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01b): We had a good strategy for qualifying. We waited for the proper spacing on the track. Then we got into a good rhythm. I was able to get the right place on the track and the lap time came to me. This has been such a great year with Patron Highcroft Racing. I can't think of a better place to be, with Patron Highcroft and the American Le Mans Series. This series is one of the best in the world. Today's qualifying was very satisfying."

LUIS DIAZ (#15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura ARX-01b): "We have a great car this weekend. The Lowe's Acura is handling very well and I was able to get a strong lap at the end of the session. In fact, it was so smooth that I was surprised by the lap time. It is exciting to be a part of an all-Acura front row. For the race, we have to stay out of trouble at the start. The last race at Road Atlanta was frustrating because we got taken out. I want to turn the car over to Adrian [Fernandez] in good shape for the rest of the race. I think we have a strong race car here. We have a great chance to race for the win Saturday.."

GIL De FERRAN (#66 Panasonic ELS Surround Acura ARX-01b): "That was a very intense qualifying run today. We felt like we had a car for the pole. We just missed a little on the setup, but we are pleased to be in the first two rows. This track is very physical for the drivers. The G-loads are tough with the type of downforce we have with the prototypes. But overall, our Acura is going to be in a position to contend for the win. I'm pleased with the progress we have made this weekend.

TONY KANAAN (#26 XM Satellite Radio AGR Acura ARX-01b): "Qualifying didn't go as well as we wanted. But we have a great car for the race. Franck and I are very pleased with the setup for the AGR XM Acura. This Acura car is so much fun to drive. We had a great race here last year. Now, we want to win it here at Laguna Seca. This is one of my favorite tracks."

-credit: acura

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