Zonta Takes Pole for SunRichGourmet.com 1000 at Miller Motorsports Park TOOELE VALLEY, UTAH (September 19, 2008) -- It's been a learning season for Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 rookie Ricardo Zonta, ...
Zonta Takes Pole for SunRichGourmet.com 1000 at Miller Motorsports Park
TOOELE VALLEY, UTAH (September 19, 2008) -- It's been a learning season for Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 rookie Ricardo Zonta, racing on unfamiliar circuits while his team developed a new Daytona Prototype chassis. Friday, it all came together on the final lap of qualifying, as the Brazilian Formula One veteran captured the pole for the 2008 season finale in the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola.
Zonta ran a Miller Motorsports Park track-record lap of 2:35.664 (103.747 mph) in drying conditions on the mammoth 4.486-mile, 23-turn circuit, earning his first career pole -- and the first for the Lola -- in qualifying for the SunRichGourmet.com 1000 presented by The Grand and Little America Hotels. The 139-lap race with a six-hour, 45-minute time limit will be televised live, flag to flag, on SPEED (11 a.m. MT).
"My last lap was perfect -- no mistakes -- and the car was really good," said Zonta, who will co-drive with Nic Jonsson. "We had a perfect car for that moment.
"This is a long track to do a lap without making a mistake," added Zonta, who has a pair of third-place finishes this year. "You have to be very focused here. It helps to have a very good car, and the team has improved a lot since the race at Barber (Motorsports Park) in July."
Zonta's last lap knocked Scott Pruett off the pole. Pruett and co-driver Memo Rojas need to each run 30 minutes in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley in tomorrow's race to share the 2008 Daytona Prototype championship. Pruett help the top spot up until the final moments of qualifying with a lap of 2:35.819 (103.643 mph).
David Donohue will start third in the No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley he co-drives with Darren Law and Buddy Rice, timing in at 2:35.823 (103.641 mph), while Max Angelelli ran a lap of 2:36.011 (103.522 mph) in the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley co-driven by Michael Valiante to start fourth. Donohue and Valiante end the season tied atop the 2008 leaders with three poles apiece.
Fastest in practice, Joey Hand ran a lap of 2:36.131 (103.436 mph) in the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Porsche Riley co-driven by Bill Auberlen to start fifth. Rounding out the top 10 qualifiers were Antonio Garcia, Alex Gurney, Ian James, Mark Wilkins and Matt Plumb.
While Daytona Prototype qualifying was run in mixed drizzle and drying conditions, steady rain fell through much of the GT class qualifying session, only to let off in the closing minutes. Leh Keen took advantage of the changing conditions to capture his first GT pole in the final seconds, running a lap of 2:52.252 (93.756 mph) in the No. 86 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3 co-driven by Eric Lux. He knocked teammate Wolf Henzler off the pole, with Henzler running a lap of 2:52.724 (93.499 mph) in the No. 87 Porsche GT3 co-driven by Bryce Miller and Dirk Werner.
Spencer Pumpelly gave Porsche a sweep of the top three in qualifying with a best time of 2:55.203 (92.177 mph) in the No. 66 TRG Porsche GT3
Two of the top five qualifiers are also in contention for the GT Championship, which is proving to be a heated three-way battle entering the season finale.
Points leader Paul Edwards qualified fourth in the No. 07 Banner Pontiac GXP.R in fourth position with a time of 2:55.323 (92.113 mph). Edwards and co-driver Kelly Collins lead the GT point standings with 338, six points ahead of Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell in the No. 57 Stevenson Automotive Pontiac GXP.R, and 13 points atop Sylvain Tremblay and Nick Ham in the No. 70 Speedsource Mazda RX-8.
Tremblay will start fifth with a time of 2:56.254 (91.627 mph), while Davis qualified 10th with a lap of 2:59.094 (90.174 mph). Ham was the only driver to win multiple poles in GT competition in 2008, setting fastest time on three occasions.
In practice for the KONI Challenge Series, Bill Auberlen set the pace for the Grand Sports (GS) class with a lap at 3:08.956 (85.468 mph) in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 he shares with Matt Alhadeff. Kris Wilson, who won the pole for the most recent race at New Jersey Motorsports Park, was second with a time of 3:09.021 (85.438 mph) in the No. 26 C-MAX/Unitech Racing Porsche 997 he shares with with David Riddle and David Russell.
In the Street Tuner (ST) class, APR Motorsport swept the top two positions, with Ian Baas gathering a top time of 3:15.352 (82.669 mph) in the No. 171 APR Motorsport APR/BBS Volkswagen GTI he shares with Dion von Moltke. Meanwhile, Randy Pobst was second in the No. 181 APR Motorsport APR/BBS Volkswagen GTI with a time of 3:15.637 (82.549 mph) he co-drives with Mark White.
Finnish rookie Markus Niemela found his way to the top of the charts in provisional qualifying for Sunday's Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda race.
Driving the No. 8 Mr. Jones Bar & Kitchen/Rauma Town/Turku Karting machine for Brooks Associates Racing, Niemela posted a best lap at 2:28.915 (108.448 mph) to take the provisional pole. Niemela, who is currently third in the championship standings, earned a bonus championship point for his efforts, and he is guaranteed a front-row starting position for Sunday's penultimate round of the 2008 Atlantic season.
Rookie Jonathan Summerton was second quickest in the No. 36 Newman Wachs Racing entry at 2:29.230 (108.220 mph). Summerton is currently second in the overall championship standings, 16 points behind leader Jonathan Bomarito, and now leads Niemela by five points in the battle for Rookie of the Year honors. Dane Cameron made it three rookies in top-three spots with a lap at 2:29.500 (108.024 mph) in the No. 19 MAZDASPEED/Finlay Motorsports/Lynx Racing machine for Genoa Racing.
In qualifying for Saturday morning's SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup race, Brad Rampelberg earned his first career pole. Rampelberg set a time of 3:19.945 (80.770 mph) in the No. 14 Hooverspeed/Mazda/Patron Tequila MX-5. Robert Huffmaster will start second in the No. 27 Team MER/Huffmaster Co. MX-5, ahead of point leader Eric Foss in the No. 28 Team MER/Autobarn Mazda MX-5.
In the first race of the weekend, and the first of two races for the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge for the Miller Cup, veteran Terry Borcheller won his third race of the season in the No. 4 StableOne Racing Ford Mustang FR500S, leading the sister No. 43 FR500S of points-leading teammate Andrew Caddell to the checkered flag by 8.557 sec. Filling out the podium was Pratt Cole, driving the No. 88 Western Metals/LaPointe Ford/USA Cares for Life FR500S entered by RP Motorsports.
Saturday's action begins with qualifying for the KONI Challenge Series at 8:00 am, followed by final qualifying for the Atlantic Championship and final practice for the Rolex Sports Car Series. The SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup race will take the green flag at 9:55 am, and the SunRichGourmet.com 1000 presented by The Grand and Little America Hotels for the Rolex Sports Car Series will get underway at 11:00 am.
In addition to the on-track action, there will be a myriad of off-track activities for fans to enjoy. The Miller Kart Track will be open for concession rentals, and there will be helicopter rides available from Park City Helitours, Skid Car rides from MMP's Miller Performance Training Center and rock-crawler rides from Ben Hanks Racing on MMP's new offroad course. In addition, there will be freestyle motocross and stunt bike exhibitions, plus live music, throughout the weekend.
On Saturday, Grandstand tickets (good for any grandstand) are priced at $50 with General Admission priced at $35. On Sunday, Grandstand tickets are priced at $40 with General Admission priced at $25. Kids 12 and under are free in General Admission areas.
For tickets or information regarding Miller Motorsports Park, call 435-277-RACE (7223) or visit the track's website at www.MillerMotorsportsPark.com.