Sun Trust Racing's Max Angelelli absolutely scorched the track this afternoon during Rolex Sports Car Series qualifying at Watkins Glen International. In doing so, he captured his first pole of the season, lapping the 3.4-mile, 11-turn road course in 1:43.602, more than two seconds quicker than Cort Wagner's G&W Motorsports BMW Doran.
"The car and engine package was working really well today," said Angelelli, who co-drove to victory earlier this season in Phoenix with teammate and team owner Wayne Taylor. "I really like these European-style tracks."
"I'm very happy," added Taylor. "We've been dominant all weekend. Max did an outstanding job today. However, the most important thing is tomorrow afternoon. Our main focus is to be the first car over the finish line at the end of six hours tomorrow."
Luis Diaz, driving a Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley, qualified third, a mere 0.012 seconds behind Wagner. The Brumos Porsche of Darren Law and Oswaldo Negri's Michael Shank Racing Lexus Doran rounded out the top-five.
Series points' leaders Max Papis and Scott Pruett will start 11th due to drivetrain problems that put a premature end to their qualifying session. "We had a bit of misfortune in qualifying, some technical problems, and we are going to start from the back and move to the front," said Papis, who last raced at the Glen in 1996, when he put in a memorable performance in a Ferrari 333SP. "The Sun Trust car has shown a lot of speed recently, but we have a better team. They cannot count us out. We are going to be out there fighting."
In GT, veteran road racer Bill Auberlen claimed his second pole of the season in Tom Milner's PTG BMW M3. Auberlen, who has three wins this year, recorded a lap of 1:54.874, .093 seconds ahead of his teammate, Joey Hand. The Risi Competizione Ferrari 360GT of Anthony Lazzaro qualified third in class.
"The track was still a little bit damp (from earlier rains), and it was a little hair-raising in a few spots," Auberlen said. "I got a little sideways a few times at a high rate of speed. With some quick steering, I was able to get it back, but you had to put it on the limit to get it there.
"The plan for tomorrow is to run a nice, conservative pace for six hours. I'll start driving a tank of gas, Boris [Said] will take over for gas and tires, and hopefully, I will get in again. The trick here is to stay out of trouble, keep it going, don't lose a lap, and get it on the podium."
Randy Pobst, driving the TPC Racing Porsche, captured the SGS pole. Pobst, a two-time winner in '04, lapped the Glen's long course in 1:58.654. The second TPC Racing Porsche of Andy Lally turned in the second fastest lap in SGS, followed closely by David Murry's AASCO Motorsports Porsche.
"Wow! We gave it our all for Team Turbo Performance," Pobst said. "We've got a lot of good competition, but Mike Levitas has found a secret to the setup on these cars with the Hoosier tires. I had a lap that was pretty good, but I knew I made a mistake coming out of the Boot (the Turns 6-7-8-9 complex), so I went out again and I tried to fix that. It wasn't perfect, but it was about 99 percent. That was enough for the pole today at The Glen, and I love being first."
The Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen will being Saturday at 11 a.m.
The Buffalo, New York-based Sahlen Packing Company announced today that it has signed on as the title sponsor of the Six Hours of the Glen for the next three years. "I have truly enjoyed our relationship with Watkins Glen International the past two years," said Sahlen's president Joe Sahlen. "The Glen provides the ideal vehicle to expand Sahlen's presence to motorsports fans everywhere and we look forward to serving Sahlen's products at concession stands throughout the facility." Sahlen's has been in the meat products business since 1869.
Tomorrow's overall winners will take home the brand new Seneca Trophy, handcrafted by Steuben. The trophy will be awarded annually to the overall winners of the Six Hours of the Glen. Each subsequent year's winners will have their names engraved on the trophy's marble base.
Track officials also announced today that the Great Western Winery has become the official champagne of Watkins Glen International. Founded in 1860, Great Western is the oldest winery in the Finger Lakes region.