AIM Autosport nabs New Jersey pole

Last week, Brian Frisselle set the fastest time in qualifying for the Rolex Sports Car Series race at Sears Point only to have that time disallowed after his AIM Autosport Ford Riley failed post-qualifying technical inspection. This week, ...

Last week, Brian Frisselle set the fastest time in qualifying for the Rolex Sports Car Series race at Sears Point only to have that time disallowed after his AIM Autosport Ford Riley failed post-qualifying technical inspection. This week, Frisselle's teammate, Mark Wilkins, once again put the AIM Autosport car on the pole, lapping the brand new 2.25-mile, 12-turn New Jersey Motorsports Park road course in 1:11.761. Wilkins was almost three tenths of a second faster than last week's winner, Michael Valiante, who qualified second in the SunTrust Racing Pontiac Dallara.

"It was great," said Wilkins after his second pole of the season. "We didn't really roll off the trailer that quick. We had to really work hard to get the car where it is."

With two wins and a third in the last three races, Wilkins said he and Frisselle want to finish the season with some more strong finishes. "We got it working for us. We're strong and we have a lot of momentum working for us. We're just going to keep pushing."

He also hoped his car would pass inspection after qualifying. "The guys made sure everything was good to go. Brian just drove the wheels off the car in Sonoma and it was a tough one to take. But those things happen. The guys have done a great job all year and they insured us the car would be good. I don't know if it's out of (technical inspection) yet; but hopefully everything is good."

Valiante, last week's winner, also hopes to finish the season with some strong finishes. "We've had a decent car all weekend. I wouldn't say the car was strong as last week at Sonoma, but we definitely knew we had a shot of sitting on the front row."

Alex Job Racing's Joey Hand was third fastest in his Porsche Riley. Jon Fogarty's Gainsco Pontiac Riley and the Ford Lola of Nic Jonsson rounded out the top-five in Saturday's 15-minute qualifying session. With two races remaining in the season, Fogarty and teammate Alex Gurney trail the Ganassi Racing tandem of Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz by 42 points in the Daytona Prototype drivers' championship.

However, the Ganassi team - winner of six races this year - did not participate in qualifying because its Lexus Riley was virtually destroyed in a violent crash during a practice session on Thursday. The impact was so severe that the car split in half after it struck the end of the wall separating the pit lane from the race track. Pruett was at the wheel at the time of the wreck and was taken to South Jersey HealthCare Regional Medical Center, where he was evaluated, released, and cleared to drive in Sunday's race. As of this afternoon, the Ganassi squad was scrambling back at its Indianapolis headquarters to prepare its spare car to race on Sunday. The team hopes to have the car at the track prior to Sunday's 8 a.m. practice session.

Bryan Sellers put the No. 68 Racer's Group Porsche on the GT class pole with a time of 1:19.024. Andrew Davis, driving the Stevenson Motorsport Pontiac GXP.R, was second fastest, followed by Kelly Collins in the Banner Racing Pontiac. Collins and his teammate, Paul Edwards, have a six-point lead over Nick Ham and Sylvain Tremblay in the GT class drivers' standings. Ham qualified sixth in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8.

Sunday's race will take the green flag at 1 p.m. ET.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Alex Gurney , Paul Edwards , Scott Pruett , Michael Valiante , Joey Hand , Kelly Collins , Luis Diaz , Sylvain Tremblay , Andrew Davis , Bryan Sellers , Mark Wilkins , Nick Ham , Brian Frisselle , Alex Job , Nic Jonsson
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Alex Job Racing , SpeedSource