Birmingham: Series qualifying report

Valiante Breaks Rolex Series Qualifying Track Record at Barber Motorsports Park on Saturday Afternoon Canadian notches second Rolex Series pole of season; Ham earns another GT pole LEEDS, Ala. (July 19, 2008) -- Michael Valiante broke the ...

Valiante Breaks Rolex Series Qualifying Track Record at Barber Motorsports Park on Saturday Afternoon
Canadian notches second Rolex Series pole of season; Ham earns another GT pole

LEEDS, Ala. (July 19, 2008) -- Michael Valiante broke the Barber Motorsports Park four-year-old track record with a lap of 1:20.521 (102.830 mph) in the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Dallara to win the pole position for Sunday's Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant, Round 10 of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16. The race takes the green flag at 2:07 p.m. CT Sunday (SPEED, Live, 3 p.m. ET).

Valiante secured his second pole position of 2008, while co-driver Max Angelelli added a third pole for the SunTrust Racing team. Valiante broke the mark for the 2.3-mile, 16-turn circuit set by Max Papis (1:20.613; 102.713 mph) for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates in October 2004.

Championship co-leader Memo Rojas was second fastest with a lap of 1:20.940 (102.298 mph) in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley. Rojas and co-driver Scott Pruett have won five of the eight Daytona Prototype races this season, opening up a 40-point lead in the championship standings.

Ricardo Zonta waited until the final minute of the session to run the third-fastest lap of the session, 1:21.257 (101.899 mph), in the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola co-driven by Nic Jonsson. He will be joined on the second row by defending race winner Jon Fogarty, who ran a lap of 1:21.279 (101.871 mph) in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley he co-drives with Alex Gurney.

Guy Cosmo was fifth in the No. 09 Spirit of Daytona Pontiac Coyote with a time of 1:21.301 (101.844 mph), and shares the third row with David Donohue in the No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley, 1:21.301 (101.844 mph). Rounding out the top 10 qualifiers were Mark Wilkins, Tom Kimber-Smith, Bill Auberlen and Ricky Taylor.

Ham Scores Second Straight Rolex Series GT Pole Position

In GT, Nick Ham won his third pole position and second in a row, running a lap of 1:28.084 (94.001 mph) in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 he shares with Rolex 24 At Daytona pole winner Sylvain Tremblay.

Kelly Collins, the defending race winner and co-leader in the GT championship, will start second in the No. 07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R he shares with Paul Edwards, 1:28.226 (93.850 mph). Collins made an attempt late in the session to secure the pole, but encountered traffic in the final turns.

Starting in the second row will be Jeff Segal in the No. 69 FXDD SpeedSource Mazda RX-8, 1:28.275 (93.798 mph) and Andrew Davis in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R, 1:28.971 (93.064 mph).

Ryan Phinny will start sixth in the No. 21 Matt Connolly Motorsports Pontiac GTO.R, with Bryce Miller, Tim Lewis Jr., Ross Smith, Tim George Jr. and Eric Lux rounding out the top 10.

FAST FACTS (POST-QUALIFYING, PRE-RACE)

- This is the second Rolex Series pole position of the season for Michael Valiante -- and the third for the No. 10 SunTrust Racing machine. Valiante also earned the pole position for the Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway.

- This is the second career pole position for Valiante, who is still looking for his first career Rolex Series victory. His best career finish was second (Iowa Speedway, 2006).

- Valiante's co-driver Max Angelelli earned the pole position for the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen in June.

- This is the third pole position of the season for Pontiac, tying the manufacturer with Porsche for the season lead with three. Ford has two poles and Lexus owns one.

- This is the second pole of the season for the Dallara chassis -- both of which have come from SunTrust Racing. The other seven pole positions have been won by drivers running in Riley chassis.

- No team this season has won a race from the pole position. The last team to win a Daytona Prototype race from the pole was the No. 99 Pontiac Riley (Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty) in August 2007 (Infineon Raceway). This season, the top starting position to win a race was second (GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course).

- Memo Rojas (1:20.940; 102.298 mph) will start on the front row for the second time this season and the first time since winning the pole for the Mexico City 250 at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Rojas and co-driver Scott Pruett have a season-high five victories in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley and lead the point standings.

- Ricardo Zonta (1:21.257; 101.899 mph) earned a career-best third starting position in the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola. Zonta, who co-drives the No. 76 with Nic Jonsson, is looking for his first career Rolex Series victory. Jonsson finished second last year at Barber, driving with Colin Braun.

- Defending race co-winner Jon Fogarty (1:21.279; 101.871 mph) will start fourth in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley he shares with Alex Gurney. Fogarty and Gurney are looking for their second victory of the season after winning at Mid-Ohio.

- Guy Cosmo (1:21.281; 107.869 mph) earned a season-best fifth starting position in the No. 09 Spirit of Daytona Racing Porsche Coyote, the top Porsche-powered car and the top Coyote chassis. Cosmo drives the car with Marc-Antoine Camirand; the team's best finish this season was a 10th twice, both at Daytona International Speedway.

- This is Nick Ham's (1:28.084; 94.001 mph) season-leading third Rolex Series GT pole position and fourth of the year for the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazdaspeed/Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8. Ham is the only driver this season with multiple pole positions.

- Overall, the SpeedSource team has five Rolex Series GT pole positions, as Jeff Segal owns a pole in the No. 69 Mazda RX-8. Mazda also owns five pole positions in nine starts this season.

- Ham is the overall Rolex Series GT season lap leader with 199. The No. 70 car has led 463 laps this season.

- This is the fourth front row start for Kelly Collins (1:28.226; 93.850 mph) and the No. 07 Banner Racing Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R, which is starting second for Sunday's race. Collins won the pole at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and the team has started second now three times. Collins and Edwards won the Porsche 250 last year in GT competition.

- All 10 Rolex Series GT races have been won from the front two rows.

- Pontiacs have won five of the nine Rolex Series GT races this season.

- SpeedSource's No. 69 Mazda RX-8, driven by Segal (1:28.275; 93.798 mph), will start third. This is the second straight race and third this season the No. 69 has started third. Segal will share the car with Emil Assentato.

- Andrew Davis (1:28.971; 93.064 mph) will start fourth in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Stevenson Automotive Pontiac GXP.R, the fifth start the car has had in the front two rows. Davis will share the No. 57 with Robin Liddell.

- Ryan Phinny (1:29.308; 92.713 mph) will start fifth in the No. 21 Matt Connolly Motorsports Pontiac GTO.R. Both he and co-driver Diego Alessi are making their first career Rolex Series starts at Barber Motorsports Park.

POST QUALIFYING QUOTES

Michael Valiante (No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Dallara): "The guys have done such a great job all year providing me and Max with a great car. I was able to go quickly right away due to them making the car so drivable."

Memo Rojas (No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley): "We put up a decent lap. I think our car has better potential. I made a mistake on my first lap and spun, so I wasn't able to get out of traffic. But I was able to get in a good lap."

Nick Ham (No. 70 SpeedSource Mazdaspeed/Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8): "I'm honestly really surprised, but really happy, to have earned the pole. I'm really happy to be starting up front alongside the Banner car tomorrow."

Kelly Collins (No. 07 Banner Racing Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R): "It would have been a miracle to win the pole. My tires had already gone off. My first lap was my best lap, and I encountered traffic on my second lap. The Banner Racing team did a great job, and I'm happy to be up on the front row."

-credit: garra

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Ricardo Zonta , Alex Gurney , Paul Edwards , Max Papis , Jon Fogarty , Scott Pruett , Colin Braun , Robin Liddell , Bill Auberlen , Marc-Antoine Camirand , Michael Valiante , Guy Cosmo , Kelly Collins , Max Angelelli , Sylvain Tremblay , Memo Rojas , Andrew Davis , Alessi Diego , Chip Ganassi , Matt Connolly , Mark Wilkins , Jeff Segal , Nick Ham , Tim Lewis , Ross Smith , Eric Lux , Bob Stallings , Ryan Phinny , Felix Sabates , Bryce Miller , Ricky Taylor , Nic Jonsson
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing , Krohn Racing , Stevenson Motorsports , SpeedSource