Jon Fogarty claimed his first Rolex Sports Car Series pole of the season Saturday in qualifying for the NJMP 250 at the New Jersey Motorsports Park. Driving the Gainsco/Bob Stallings Chevrolet Riley, Fogarty lapped the 2.25- mile, 12-turn road course in 1:15.148. The pole was his first since Homestead last year and his 15th career series pole. Perennial contenders for the series championship, Fogarty and his teammate, Alex Gurney, have only one podium finish (a third at Homestead) and two top-five finishes in eight races this year.
"We've had a trying season," said Fogarty, whose team has led only 71 of 1631 laps in 2010. "It does wear on you. But we have not given up and we're still working hard. This just feels great and everybody obviously has a little pick-up in their step. We had a good run of poles at the end of last year and just been little off (since then). We've been working on the car and with Chevrolet. We maximized it today. Poles are great but we want to look forward to the end of the day tomorrow."
Like Saturday's qualifying sessions, the weather for Sunday's race will be extremely hot, with temperatures set to climb into the mid-90s. The heat will more than likely take its toll on the drivers and tire management.
SunTrust Racing's Ricky Taylor was second fastest in the headlining Daytona Prototype class, ending up .268 seconds behind Fogarty. Taylor's Ford Dallara will start from the front row for the sixth time this year and the third time in the last three races. He and teammate Max Angelelli have three poles and one win this year.
Mark Wilkins qualified third in the AIM Autosport Ford Riley, followed by Ganassi Racing's Memo Rojas. Rojas and teammate Scott Pruett will be seeking their record-tying seventh win of the season in their BMW Riley. The record is currently held by Fogarty and Gurney. Nic Jonsson was fifth fastest in the Krohn Racing Ford Lola.
The No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Dallara, the Brumos Porsche Riley, the Doran Racing Ford Dallara, the Spirit of Daytona Racing Porsche Coyote, and a second Michael Shank entry rounded out the top-ten in the Daytona Prototype class.
Paul Edwards set the fastest qualifying time in the GT class. His lap of 1:21.360 in the No. 07 Banner Racing Corvette was less than a quarter of a second quicker than the lap turned by Jan Magnussen in the Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R. Magnussen said afterward that he may have had a chance at the pole had he not crashed his car in the morning warm-up. The Stevenson crew managed to repair the crash damage, which was mostly cosmetic, just before the start of qualifying.
"We really needed (this pole)," said Edwards. "We've had a tough start to the season. I feel like we've deserved a good result many times but everything hasn't come together for us. We're planning on finishing the last four races of this championship strong. That's what we did today. We've been further down the pack than the car deserves. It's going to be a real battle tomorrow."
The second Stevenson Camaro of Robin Liddell was third fastest in class, followed by the SpeedSource Mazda RX-8s of Jonathan Bomarito and John Edwards, respectively.