LUIS DIAZ JUST MISSES OVERALL POLE WITH LOWE'S ACURA IN LONG BEACH AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES QUALIFYING Brabham, Fittipaldi Take Third, Fifth For Saturday's Patron Tequila Grand Prix LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Luis Diaz felt both good and bad following...
LUIS DIAZ JUST MISSES OVERALL POLE WITH LOWE'S ACURA IN LONG BEACH
AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES QUALIFYING
Brabham, Fittipaldi Take Third, Fifth For Saturday's Patron Tequila Grand Prix
LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Luis Diaz felt both good and bad following his impressive Friday qualifying run for Saturday's Patron Tequila Grand Prix in the American Le Mans Series.
Negotiating the tough 1.97-mile, 11-turn circuit through the streets of Long Beach can prove to be a tough proposition in the wide prototype sports cars, but Diaz took his Lowe's Fernandez Racing Acura ARX-01b to a 99.19 miles-per-hour average to claim the second overall starting position for the 4:10 p.m. Saturday event.
Diaz, who'll team with car owner Adrian Fernandez in the one hour, 40-minute contest, recorded the best qualifying position for the Lowe's team since the Indianapolis-based operation joined the ALMS in 2007. But just starting on the front row did not please the popular Mexican driver when he felt he had a machine to win the coveted the pole.
The Mexico City native clocked a time of one minute, 11.424 seconds to fall just short of the pole time of 1:11.330 by Penske driver Timo Bernhard. Diaz was set to record a quicker time when the red flag was shown at the 13-minute mark of the 25-minute qualifying session.
When the red flag appeared, Diaz' active qualifying lap was disallowed and he had to settle for second overall in the 28-car lineup.
Veteran David Brabham, making only his second career Long Beach start, jumped to first in qualifying in the initial five minutes of the session and took the bright No. 9 Patron Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01b to the third overall qualifying spot with a speed of 99.16 mph. Brabham will team with Scott Sharp in Saturday's race.
Christian Fittipaldi, an eight-time starter at Long Beach in the CART series, fought some steering difficulties with the No. 26 XM Satellite Radio Acura ARX-01b but came back to notch the fifth starting position with a speed of 98.81 mph. Former Long Beach pole winner Bryan Herta will serve as Fittipaldi's running mate when the green flag drops Saturday at 4:10 p.m.
LUIS DIAZ (#15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura ARX-01b): "The Lowe's Acura is very good and I am sure I had a chance for the pole. In fact, I was on my best lap when the red flag came out. It is a shame because I wanted to win the pole very badly here. I have been successful at Long Beach before and a pole would have been the first for the Lowe's Fernandez team in ALMS. But I know that the race is more important for our team. Starting on the front row is our best position so far, and I think we'll have a car to challenge for the win on Saturday. Adrian and I will be very competitive for this race."
DAVID BRABHAM (#9 Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01b): "For us, we were off the pace by quite a bit, more than a second and a half. We picked up about a second this morning and we had a car to win the pole today. So the Patron Highcroft crew did a great job improving the Acura for this afternoon's qualifying attempt. I was really happy with the grip and the balance of the car. I was on a great lap and I just slid too far in Turn Nine and put the car into the tires. We didn't hurt the car too badly, but it cost us a shot at the pole. Overall, Scott and I are very pleased with the car for the race. We'll be right in the fight on Saturday."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (#26 XM Satellite Radio AGR Acura ARX-01b): "We had some strange things with the car when I went out for qualifying. The steering wasn't right and I had to pull into the pits after the first lap. That hurt us in our run for the pole today. I was able to move up to fifth but the car didn't feel right. We'll improve it and Bryan and I will be ready for the race."