Birmingham: Blackhawk Racing qualifying report

Gurney seizes GAINSCO/Blackhawk's first-ever Grand-Am pole at Barber Park LEEDS, Ala.- The storied Gurney name was carried into the record books once again this afternoon as Alex Gurney took the pole position for Sunday's Grand-Am Rolex Sports...

Gurney seizes GAINSCO/Blackhawk's first-ever Grand-Am pole at Barber Park

LEEDS, Ala.- The storied Gurney name was carried into the record books once again this afternoon as Alex Gurney took the pole position for Sunday's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant at Barber Motorsports Park.

Driving the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley Daytona Prototype, Gurney turned a lap of the 2.3-mile road course in 1 minute, 22.266 seconds at an average speed of 100.649 mph, putting him atop the time chart by just eight thousandths of a second.

Preparing for just his - and the team's - third Grand-Am start, Gurney set his fastest time just seconds before qualifying was halted when another DP crashed into the pit wall. The incident brought the checkered flag down five minutes early on the 15-minute qualifying session and secured for Gurney the top spot on the grid.

"I am just thrilled and happy at how far we've come so fast," Gurney said. "We put all the pieces together to lay down a quick lap. I had a rabbit in front of me - Luis Diaz in the Ganassi car - and I just chased him down." Gurney had much praise, too, for the team's work in getting the GAINSCO Pontiac Riley set up to challenge for pole.

"We've learned so much so fast, and everyone has been doing simply a stellar job to make us this quick right away."

Team owner and co-driver Bob Stallings was ecstatic at the performance of his driver and team.

"I knew we picked the right strategy from the minute Alex strapped in," Stallings said. "I never had a doubt that he would get that pole - because he wanted it so badly. The team has come together, our testing went well and now we're in a position to succeed."

As for the race, both Bob and Alex agreed that experience would be key, and as passing can be very difficult on the tight circuit, starting up front will be a definite advantage.

"When you're on the pole you can turn fast laps right away, but I know there's a lot of fast cars behind me that have been very good all weekend. I think it's going to be a great race and we're up for the challenge," Gurney said.

"I'm very glad we came here to test the GAINSCO car because it gave us the track time we needed to catch up to drivers like Christian Fittipaldi and Max Angelelli that have raced here before. We've got to bring the car home and anything can happen," Stallings said. "I think we're fortunate, all of us, to have this opportunity to do something we love - and do it as fast as we're going in just our third race."

The 21 Daytona Prototypes and 24 Grand Touring cars making up the grid for the Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant will roll off at 12 noon Central time tomorrow, where 109 laps or two hours and 45 minutes of racing await them. Fans can watch all the action live on SPEED Channel at 1 p.m. Eastern time, 10 a.m. Pacific, or follow along with Grand-Am's live Web radio broadcast and live timing available free at www.Grand-Am.com.

-bms-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Alex Gurney , Christian Fittipaldi , Luis Diaz , Max Angelelli , Bob Stallings