Gurney takes Barber pole

Despite having competed in only two previous Rolex Sports Car Series races, new-comer Alex Gurney, the youngest son of legendary racer Dan Gurney, outqualified all of the usual front runners Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park to win the pole for...

Despite having competed in only two previous Rolex Sports Car Series races, new-comer Alex Gurney, the youngest son of legendary racer Dan Gurney, outqualified all of the usual front runners Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park to win the pole for the Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant. Gurney's Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley lapped the 2.3-mile, 11-turn course in 1:22.266, .073 seconds ahead of Christian Fittipaldi, who was subbing for Max Papis in the No. 66 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley.

"I'm extremely happy," exclaimed Gurney, who finished sixth earlier this year at Laguna Seca and ninth at Daytona in July. "The [qualifying] session worked out well. I actually had a little carrot out in front of me in Luis Diaz in the Ganassi car and I was actually catching him a little bit. I actually had to back off one lap because I thought I was coming up on him so quickly. So the next lap was when I was able to do my fast lap. But we knew we had to put [a lap] in quickly because the rain was coming down a little bit when we were on the starting line. I'm just really happy for my teammate, Bob Stallings, and the Gainsco team. It's just an amazing opportunity for us."

And an opportunity like this may be exactly what Gurney needs to jumpstart his racing career, which began in 1997 in the Skip Barber Formula Dodge Midwest Championship and went on to include stints in the Barber Dodge Pro Series, the Toyota Atlantic Championship, and British Formula 3. Gurney spent 2003 and 2004 serving as a driver coach, test driver, and engineer for the Pacific Coast Motorsports Toyota Atlantic squad prior to testing a Daytona Prototype for the first time in 2004.

Though he comes from an open-wheel background, Gurney says it has not been that difficult for him to adjust to the heavier, less agile Daytona Prototypes of the Rolex Sports Car Series. "We had a really good first test out in Putnam Park and I was pretty comfortable. I think this car suits my style pretty well. So I feel really comfortable and I feel like I can attack. I feel on top of the car for sure. These cars have a lot to play with. The team and the engineers really have to stay on top of all kinds of things. It's our third race. We've obviously come a long way. We've got really good equipment and good engine. We've got here a lot quicker than we thought. The competition is super tough, all of the times are really close, and there are a lot of stellar drivers. We're a little bit surprised, I would say."

Championship contender Max Angelelli will start third behind the wheel of the SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley. The No. 77 Doran Lexus of Matteo Bobbi recorded the fourth fastest time, followed by Mike Borkowski, in the Michael Shank Racing Pontiac Riley.

In the GT class, Justin Marks claimed his first pole of the year, turning a lap of 1:31.036 in the No. 16 PTG BMW M3. Marks's teammate, Kelly Collins, was second fastest in GT, followed by the No. 36 TPC Racing Porsche, driven by Spencer Pumpelly.

Sunday's race will take the green flag at 12 p.m.

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Alex Gurney , Max Papis , Christian Fittipaldi , Kelly Collins , Luis Diaz , Dan Gurney , Matteo Bobbi , Max Angelelli , Justin Marks , Skip Barber , Spencer Pumpelly , Mike Borkowski , Bob Stallings , Michael Shank
Teams Krohn Racing , Michael Shank Racing