Alex Gurney captured his second Rolex Sports Car Series pole of the season Friday during qualifying for the Six Hours of the Glen, flailing his Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley around the 3.4-mile, 11 turn Watkins Glen International road course...
Alex Gurney captured his second Rolex Sports Car Series pole of the season Friday during qualifying for the Six Hours of the Glen, flailing his Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley around the 3.4-mile, 11 turn Watkins Glen International road course in a time of 1:43.878. Gurney's lap was more than half a second quicker than the second fastest qualifier, Scott Pruett - the current leader in the Daytona Prototype drivers' championship.
"Obviously our car works really well here and we love coming here because of that," said Gurney, who will share his Pontiac Riley in the race with Jon Fogarty. "All weekend our car has been really good. We kind of knew that if I put in a nice clean lap on the first lap that hopefully it was going to be good enough (for the pole). And it turned out okay."
Conventional wisdom holds that qualifying is not that important for endurance races. However, Gurney believes that starting from the pole will enable his team to avoid the miscues that have plagued them in several of the first five races of the season. "Last year, I started sixth and got caught up in a first lap incident, so I like the idea of being up front. Hopefully, we can keep it up front. I think it's safer up there. We have a lot of work to do. We've had a lot of problems throughout the year and we feel like we should have won more races or at least been on the podium more. So we're looking forward to showing our stuff here."
With one win this season and two previous wins at the Glen, Pruett thinks he and his Ganassi Racing teammate, Memo Rojas, are ready to give Gurney and Fogarty all they can handle. "It's going to be a great show for the fans. We're back to racing with the GT cars, which makes it more exciting for us and the fans. I think I like it a little better that way. But the No. 99 car has clearly been setting the pace all season long. And we've been chasing it. I think out car is better over long runs. We're definitely really good on old tires, but not so good on new tires. Our strength is in long races. We have a great group of guys and the strategy and pit stops have been picture perfect. We stretch our legs a little bit more in the long races, so hopefully we can do the same thing tomorrow."
Fresh off a win at Laguna Seca, Porsche factory driver Patrick Long was third fastest in the Alex Job Racing Porsche Crawford, turning a lap of 1:44.436. Max Angelelli, driving the SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley, and Colin Braun, in the Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley, rounded out the top-five in the Daytona Prototype class.
Banner Racing's Paul Edwards turned in his best qualifying effort of the year in the No. 07 Pontiac GXP.R, nabbing the GT class pole with a time of 1:58.823 and giving Pontiac its first class pole of the season. Edwards is sharing the car this weekend with fellow GM factory driver Kelly Collins. The Pontiac duo's previous best start was fourth last month at Laguna Seca. Wolf Henzler was second fastest in the No. 74 Tafel Racing Porsche, followed by Dirk Werner in the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche. With one win and four podium finishes, Werner is currently tied with Mazda drivers Nick Ham and Sylvain Tremblay atop the GT class drivers' championship standings. Tremblay qualified seventh for Saturday's race.
"It's a new car and a new team, so we've come a long way in a short time," said Edwards. "It's the first pole position for the GXP after following up a win at Lime Rock. Everyone is starting to gel. Me and my engineer . . . are really working well together and the team is working hard, too. Grand- Am made some nice rule changes for us and it has kind of narrowed the gap for us."
The Six Hours of the Glen will take the green flag Saturday at 11 a.m. ET and be broadcast live on SPEED.