Laguna Seca: Highcroft Racing qualifying report

Despite electing to miss this morning's opening practice session, Patron Highcroft Racing scored a front row starting position for tomorrow's Monterey Sports Car Championship presented by Patron after David Brabham came within .092 of a second...

Despite electing to miss this morning's opening practice session, Patron Highcroft Racing scored a front row starting position for tomorrow's Monterey Sports Car Championship presented by Patron after David Brabham came within .092 of a second off pole position today.

The LMP1 championship-leading team elected to skip this morning's opening practice session - concentrating on preparation for tomorrow's championship decider.

However, the lack of track time did not hinder the performance of the #9 Acura ARX-02a. David Brabham was quickly on the pace in qualifying, initially setting the fastest lap on his second flier before being pushed down to third by Gil de Ferran and the LMP2 Acura of Luis Diaz. Patron Bee Laguna Seca After heading to the pits to make adjustments, Brabham re-emerged to take a final shot at pole position - recording a fastest time of 1:11.298 - less than 1/100th of a second off pole

Brabham and team-mate Scott Sharp will form an all-Acura front row alongside championship rivals Gil de Ferran and Simon Pagenaud in tomorrow's four-hour event.

The Danbury, CT-based Patron Highcroft squad lead the LMP1 class championship by 21 points going into the 2009 American Le Mans Series finale.

Sharp and Brabham need only to finish 70 percent of the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca event to earn the first American Le Mans Series championship wins for both drivers and the team.

Sharp would become only the second American-born LMP1 class champion while a title victory for Brabham would cap off an outstanding season for this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans winner.

Today's result is the second successive front row start at the famous California venue for Patron Highcroft Racing. Brabham earned pole position for the team here last year aboard the team's LMP2-class Acura.

Tomorrow's final round of the 2009 championship will greet the green flag at 2:45pm.

Scott Sharp

"We're in really great shape for tomorrow - qualifying was really impressive. We've come here with a very conservative approach and planning to go into tomorrow with a really comfortable race car.

"To miss this morning's session and still be within 1/100th of a second in qualifying puts us in a really good position.

"We just have to stick to our plan and remember our main goal and I think we will be in good shape.

"In the race tomorrow the track conditions are going to change quite a bit and luckily we had the chance to sample that yesterday in the testing session.

"We have a taste for it now. It is the same for everybody and our car seemed to run really strongly and I was able to get through the traffic well.

"That is exactly what it is going to be like in the race."

David Brabham

"I'm actually pretty happy considering we skipped the first session today, a few of our guys are a bit under the weather and I went into qualifying with only three laps under my belt.

"We got very close to pole - obviously the guys did a very good job on the car. For what we need to do we are in very reasonable shape.

"Initially when I was three or four tenths off the pole I thought 'well, this isn't bad' but then we made some adjustments and found a lot more grip.

"On one lap I was very close and I got to the corkscrew, out-braked myself a little, ran out of talent and dropped a 10th and half.

"I'm sure Gil can probably say the same with his laps but it is great to have the two Acuras on the front row of the grid for the final race of the year.

"I knew Gil was going to be strong here but the fact we were so close is a good sign. Tomorrow we have to treat it like a normal race. Every race we go into, we go to win and if we do that the championship will sort itself out."

-credit: hr

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