Pat Jennings, Grand-Am correspondent
Chevrolets dominated Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series qualifying Friday at Barber Motorsports Park, sweeping the top-three spots in the Daytona Prototype class and claiming first and third in the production-based GT class.
The Corvettes of Richard Westbrook, Jon Fogarty, and Darren Law qualified first, second, and third, respectively, in the Daytona Prototype class, with Westbrook taking his first career Rolex Series pole. The Englishman lapped the 2.3-mile, 17-turn road course in 1:21.420, averaging 101.694 miles per hour in the Spirit of Daytona entry. Fogarty was .074 seconds slower for GAINSCO Bob Stallings Racing. And Law ended up third in the first of the two Action Express Corvettes.
I really wasn't sure whether we had the pace to get a pole, but the car felt superb.
“I really wasn't sure whether we had the pace to get a pole, but the car felt superb,” said Westbrook, whose team finish eighth in the first race of the season at Daytona. “It’s good to get the Chevy on the pole.”
At the conclusion of qualifying, both Westbrook and Fogarty expressed concerns about the track’s lack of grip. Fogarty attributed the lack of grip to the aggregate used in the asphalt, but he wasn't sure why or how the track has become so slippery over the past few years. The lack of grip could make tire management a key issue during the two hour and 45 minute race on Saturday, especially if it rains, which is a possibility. And the Firestone rubber put down by the IndyCars, which are also racing at Barber this weekend, could make the track slicker on race day.
Ganassi Racing’s BMW Riley set the fourth fastest lap, making it the quickest car without a Chevrolet engine. Fords captured the next three spots, with Michael Shank Racing besting the two Starworks cars. The second Action Express entry qualified eighth and the SunTrust Racing Corvette failed to record a time due to a crash during qualifying. The damage to the car was minor and the driver, Ricky Taylor, was not injured. The car will start the race last in the Daytona Prototype class.
Paul Edwards put the Autohaus Camaro GT.R on the GT class pole, with a lap of 1:30.762. Emil Assentato was second in the Aim Autosport Ferrari F458, followed by the Stevenson Camaro. Horton Autosport’s Porsche GT3, the No. 41 Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8, and the Curran Racing rounded out the top-six. The faster of the two Audi R8s will start seventh, while the Turner Motorsports BMW turned the slowest qualifying time in the GT class thanks to an off-course excursion.
“Overall, I got a pretty good lap in and it’s really cool that Chevy’s starting first in both DP and GT this weekend,” said Edwards.
Saturday’s race will start at 1:15 ET and be broadcast tape delayed on Speed beginning at 4 p.m. ET.