DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Jan. 31, 2002) -- Belgium's Didier Theys wheeled the No. 27 Doran Lista Racing Judd Dallara to the pole position on Thursday for the 40th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Theys, who resides in Scottsdale, Ariz., turned a fast lap of 125.576 mph in the SportsRacing Prototype entry on the 3.56-mile road course during the qualifying session, which set the first 35 positions for this weekend's race.
Rounding out the top three were the No. 49 Team Ascari and driver Werner Lupberger (125.454 mph) and the No. 2 Crawford Racing Judd Crawford with Jan Lammers (125.061).
"I took six laps and my first one was my best one, or I should say, the lap with no traffic," said Theys, who won the pole for the Rolex 24 in 1996 and captured his lone overall win in 1998. "Every lap after that I had traffic. I could have done much better than what I did but we get the pole. My last lap wasn't very good. I lost quite a bit behind a slower car in the infield."
Lupberger, who shares the driver's seat with Timothy Bell Jr., and Harri Toivonen, is thrilled to qualify on the outside pole in the Ascari's first Rolex 24 At Daytona start.
"We've got good people who made the right choices and put us on second," Lupberger said. "We're also very happy to get our first American race in second place. I'm just hoping everything is going to go much better for us in the race."
Lammer, who shares driving duties with Tony Stewart and Johnny Mowlem, says the difference in weather conditions between Thursday's qualifying session and the three-day test session earlier this month threw a curve ball at many of the teams.
"It was different today and it was an opportunity for all of us to improvise because it was a lot hotter (during the test) and we all ran into a totally different situation from a handling point of view," Lammers said. "I think the handling was as good as we could get it. Under the circumstances, we had a bit of traffic and I think the other guys had that too. But overall we're incredibly happy with the starting position on the roster and we have 24 hours to catch the other guys."
Top qualifier in the GTS class was the No. 3 Rocketsports Racing Jaguar with driver Paul Gentilozzi, whose speed of 118.363 mph earned the 15th starting position. Top qualifier in the GT class was Joao Barbosa, who posted a speed of 112.433 mph in the No. 24 Prospective Racing Mosler MT900R.
Anthony Lazzaro drove the No. 8 Rand Racing/Risi Competizione Nissan Lola to the top qualifying speed in the SportsRacing Prototype II class with a lap of 117.096 mph, which earned the 17th starting spot. Irv Hoerr and the No. 29 Sky Blue Racing Mustang was the top AGT qualifier, earning the 19th starting position with a speed of 115.504 mph.
Second fastest AGT qualifier was Winston Cup Rookie of the Year Kevin Harvick in the No. 90 RE/MAX Corvette fielded by Flis Motorsports. Harvick blistered a lap 114.904 mph to earn the 22nd starting position for his team.
Tickets are still available at the gate or by calling the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.