Homestead: Friday qualifying report

Rockenfeller Takes Pole Position for Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami HOMESTEAD, Fla. (March 24, 2006) -- Alex Job Racing/Emory Motorsports went two-for-two in Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special...

Rockenfeller Takes Pole Position for Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (March 24, 2006) -- Alex Job Racing/Emory Motorsports went two-for-two in Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve qualifying, as Germany's Mike Rockenfeller placed the No. 23 10th & M Seafoods Alaska Porsche Crawford on the pole position for Saturday's Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami (SPEED, 8 p.m. ET).

Rockenfeller posted a best lap of 1:13.960 (111.952 mph) to score the first pole of his Rolex Series career. It was the second pole in as many tries for Alex Job Racing/Emory Motorsports, as Lucas Luhr also put the No. 23 machine on the pole for the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona. Rockenfeller, a German driver, will co-drive in the race with American sports car standout Patrick Long.

"I had trouble getting a clear lap early in the qualifying session, but was able to break through towards the end," said Rockenfeller. "The car is really good; we focused on doing long runs in practice so we have as good a car at the end as we will at the beginning of the race. It is very close at the front of the field, the pace of the race should be somewhere in the mid-15s. We have two poles with this car; we need to get it to victory lane."

Christian Fittipaldi made it two Porsche Crawfords on the front row with a lap at 1:14.384 (111.314 mph) in the No. 39 Cheever Racing/Crown Royal Special Reserve machine. Fittipaldi is sharing the No. 39 with Luhr this weekend, as regular co-driver and team owner Eddie Cheever is focusing his driving attention on Sunday's Indy Car Series event at Homestead. It is Fittipaldi's best starting spot since he qualified second at Barber Motorsports Park last July.

"It feels great to start on the front row anywhere you go," Fittipaldi said. "The thing that feels the best is how much better we were able to make the Crown Royal Special Reserve between practice and qualifying. We worked a lot on race setup on older tires yesterday, not really trying for the ultimate lap. Today we worked on making the car good for qualifying and everybody did a really good job. Everyone loves to start up front, but when you get down to it, what you need is a really good race car, and I think that is what we have. This is my home track on the circuit, which would make a win here see very special. It's also my wife's birthday, and I think a win would make a very good present to her. Really, we'll do our best and see where we come out."

David Donohue was the third Porsche-powered driver in the top three following a best qualifying lap at 1:14.436 (111.236 mph) in the No. 58 Red Bull Porsche Fabcar for Brumos Racing. It was the second top-three qualifying performance in as many races at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the No. 58 team, as Donohue's co-driver, Darren Law, put the No. 58 machine on the pole position last year.

Luis Diaz will start fourth in the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley on the strength of a best lap at 1:14.524 (111.105 mph). Diaz and co-driver Scott Pruett head into the Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami looking for their second-consecutive Rolex Series victory, as they won the Mexico City 250 earlier this month. They are also looking to extend Chip Ganassi Racing's win streak to three races, as the team won the Rolex 24 At Daytona with IndyCar champions Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon and NASCAR driver Casey Mears in the No. 01 Target Lexus Riley.

The top-10 cars in qualifying were covered by less than one second, and the top 10 also featured eight different chassis and engine combinations. The Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami takes the green flag at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday evening, with tape-delayed television coverage on SPEED beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET.

HENZLER KEEPS STREAK OF CLASS POLES ALIVE AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI

With a lap time of 1:21.679 (101.372 mph) in the No. 72 NEC/Rembrandt Charms Porsche GT3, Germany's Wolf Henzler clinched his third Rolex Series GT class pole in as many chances. Henzler is co-driving with Robin Liddell in tomorrow night's Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami.

Making his Rolex Series debut in the 2005 Rolex 24 At Daytona, Henzler put the No. 71 Farnbacher Racing USA Porsche GT3 on the class pole. In this year's rendition of the twice-around-the-clock classic, Henzler made his debut with Tafel Racing with a class-best qualifying run in the No. 72 Porsche.

"This track is similar to Daytona and these Porsches are very strong here," said Henzler. "Homestead is a little harder to drive than Daytona because of the shorter straightaways and the darker track, so tomorrow night's race will be more difficult with faster traffic on the track. Starting at the front is where we want to be."

Henzler and Liddell are currently in a four-way tie for third place in the GT driver standings, following up their sixth-place run in the Rolex 24 At Daytona with a fourth-place finish in the Mexico City 250 earlier this month. Liddell qualified the machine in Mexico City, and in Henzler's only other Rolex Series start--a GT win in the 2005 Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen with Autometric Motorsports--he did not qualify.

Henzler's Tafel Racing teammate Andrew Davis will start from the outside of the GT front row in the No. 73 NEC/Rembrandt Charms Porsche GT3 second with a lap time of 1:22.051 (100.913 mph). Davis is sharing the machine this weekend with team owner, and regular co-driver, Jim Tafel, and the duo is looking to break through with their first victory.

"These cars have been undoubtedly fast, but now we're looking for results at the end of races," Davis said. "Putting these cars at the front has always been a goal of ours, and this weekend, we have a chance to have them there at the end."

Davis and Tafel are currently in a tie for ninth in the GT driver standings, posting a fifth-place result in Mexico City after a 12th-place class finish in the Rolex 24.

"I've been with this team for the last two years, and it's amazing to see how it has grown and improved," said Davis. "This series is so competitive with the BMW, the (Pontiac) GTO, the Porsches and now Mazda all competing at the front. There is a good balance of manufacturers and it really says something when we can get our cars one, two."

Starting third in the No. 17 SAMAX Porsche GT3 will be England's Robert Bell, who posted a time of 1:22.069 (100.891 mph). Bell is sharing the machine this weekend with Scotland's John Dalziel, whose brother, Ryan, is competing this weekend in the No. 89 Playboy/Vonage Pontiac Riley in the Daytona Prototype class.

Defending Grand-Am Cup Series Street Tuner class champion David Haskell posted a lap time of 1:22.137 (100.807 mph) in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8, and will start fourth tomorrow night. The No. 70 machine made its class debut with a strong outing early on in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January, but mechanical problems mid-way through the race forced the car to retire. Haskell and co-driver Sylvain Tremblay look to put together another solid performance at Homestead-Miami Speedway after missing Round 2 in Mexico City.

The No. 64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R--which was victorious in the Mexico City 250 at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez--will start fifth in-class at Homestead-Miami, after a qualifying lap time of 1:22.257 (100.660 mph) by Kelly Collins. Collins and co-driver Paul Edwards are tied with Henzler and Liddell in the driver standings, trailing points leaders--TRG teammates Marc Bunting and Andy Lally--by only nine points (62-53).

-garra-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Paul Edwards , Eddie Cheever , Casey Mears , Christian Fittipaldi , Scott Dixon , Scott Pruett , Kelly Collins , Lucas Luhr , Luis Diaz , Dan Wheldon , David Haskell , Andy Lally , Darren Law , David Donohue , Sylvain Tremblay , Patrick Long , Andrew Davis , Marc Bunting , Chip Ganassi , Mike Rockenfeller , Wolf Henzler , John Dalziel , Alex Job
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Alex Job Racing , SpeedSource