Gurney claims Watkins Glen pole

Second-generation driver Alex Gurney claimed his first Rolex Sports Car Series pole of the season Thursday in qualifying for the Crown Royal 200 at Watkins Glen International. Gurney, driving the No. 99 Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley, lapped the...

Second-generation driver Alex Gurney claimed his first Rolex Sports Car Series pole of the season Thursday in qualifying for the Crown Royal 200 at Watkins Glen International. Gurney, driving the No. 99 Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley, lapped the Glen's short course in 1:08.104, almost a full second faster than the previous track record for the Daytona Prototype Class. The California native will share the driving duties in Friday night's race with Jon Fogarty. The two drivers have five top-five finishes in the last five races.

"I am really happy to be on pole," said Gurney, who qualified in the first of two 30-mintue qualifying sessions. "We have been pushing hard all year. I don't know if the first session was the better one; but having a time to shoot for always helps. The hardest part that last half hour was sitting there and waiting to see if anyone would go faster. The car was working very well. Jon and I have been pushing each other pretty hard, and that has been bringing both of our levels up. The level of the series is so high now that we're really scratching and clawing for every tenth. So it feels great to be up here."

"It's going to be a serious fight with the short race distance and without the GT traffic," added Fogarty. "We have a car with good overall pace. Starting up front is going to be pretty paramount for this weekend's race. It feels great. I'm extremely happy to be starting up front. I can't say enough about the job Alex did. It's nerve wracking standing there watching. I would much rather be in the car." The GT cars are not racing this weekend.

Ryan Briscoe was second fastest in the SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley, a scant .084 seconds slower than Gurney. "I love coming to Watkins Glen," said Briscoe, who qualified in the second session. "I've always gone fast around here and I love the track and everything about it. In qualifying today it was a shame not to get the pole, but it's good to have the front row. We are definitely out to get the win tomorrow. We need to try to get Max this championship. And I'm here to help him. So we're going to be doing all we can to keep the SunTrust car out front tomorrow."

Winning is a top priority for the SunTrust team this weekend because Briscoe's teammate, Max Angelelli, currently lies second in the Daytona Prototype drivers' championship - 39 points behind Jorg Bergmeister - with only three races remaining. Bergmeister qualified seventh. "I'm starting the race and I want to try to get a good start and stay with the front - whether I'm in front or staying with the leaders. It's going to be real important to be running at a fast pace tomorrow. Then I can give the car to Max and he can do his usual and go for the win. Max around here has been so fast today, so if I can give him the car in the front I think he will do the job."

The No. 23 Alex Job Racing/Emory Motorsports Porsche Crawford of Mike Rockenfeller and Patrick Long qualified third, followed by the No. 01 Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley and the No. 12 Fernandez Racing Pontiac Riley.

Friday's two-hour race will be broadcast at 9 p.m. ET on Speed.

Notes
Team Sahlen's announced Thursday that it will campaign two Corvette Z06 entries in the Roles Series GT class in 2007. The cars will be driven by Joe Sahlen, Joe Nonnamaker, Wayne Nonnamaker, and Will Nonnamaker. Team Sahlen's currently competes in the Grand-Am Cup Series, where it won the season-opener at Daytona.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Alex Gurney , Jon Fogarty , Wayne Nonnamaker , Will Nonnamaker , Joe Nonnamaker , Jörg Bergmeister , Max Angelelli , Patrick Long , Ryan Briscoe , Joe Sahlen , Alex Job
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Team Sahlen , Alex Job Racing