Homestead: GM Racing qualifying report

Difficult Qualifying Session For Pontiac At Homestead Porsche in Front of Both Daytona Prototype and GT Class Grids; Highest Pontiacs Qualified Seventh in DP and Fifth in GT HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Imbalances due to 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports...

Difficult Qualifying Session For Pontiac At Homestead

Porsche in Front of Both Daytona Prototype and GT Class Grids; Highest Pontiacs Qualified Seventh in DP and Fifth in GT

HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Imbalances due to 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype (DP) competition adjustments were again evident in the latest round of qualifying sessions at Homestead-Miami Speedway today. Pontiac DPs had difficulty keeping up with their opponents during qualifying for Saturday's race, with the highest-placing DP securing only the seventh-highest spot on the grid. Andy Wallace put his #4 Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford on the fourth row, six spots behind polesitter Mike Rockenfeller of the #23 Porsche Crawford. Wallace ran as high as fourth during the session but couldn't get in front of any of the Porsches, which took four of the top five grid positions.

"I'm not unhappy with the car; I thought we could have been a little bit further up than what we had but the race isn't until tomorrow," said Wallace. "It's very tight. I think the Porsches have an advantage. it's up to Grand American to do something about that but they've been very fair in the past and I'm sure they'll see to it that the field is leveled. It's how this series keeps its competitiveness."

Cars utilizing 5.0 L engines were hit with competition adjustments at the end of the 2005 Rolex Series season - among those affected were all Pontiac-powered Daytona Prototypes. After a season of championships (Pontiac took DP team, driver and manufacturer championships in 2005), the season is off to a rough start for Pontiac with the brand still looking for its first DP win of 2006.

"Today's qualifying illustrates the disparity on how Grand American has positioned the various engine manufactures," said Jim Lutz, Rolex Series program manager for Pontiac Motorsports. "The weight added to the Pontiacs at the end of 2005 compared to the Porsche- and Lexus-powered cars is evident in today's DP qualifying results. We have confidence that Grand American will restore competitiveness for all engine makes based on this season's data."

Pontiac's GT effort is to date having success this season and practiced well yesterday and today. Their qualifying run, just prior to the DP session, was also satisfactory despite slight mechanical issues. Pontiac's two TRG GTO.Rs, the #64 and #65 cars, qualified fifth and 14th, respectively. Kelly Collins managed a third-row grid position despite having to pit for a wheel vibration while his teammate R.J. Valentine took 14th in the 15 minute qualifying session. Pontiac currently leads the GT class in team and driver points and is tied for first in GT manufacturer points; their drivers have confidence that their momentum will help carry them to success here at Homestead's 2.3-mile road course.

"We're coming off a win (Mexico City) from a month ago and the car is pretty much where we want it to be," said Collins. "I had to come in to the pits during qualifying because of a vibrating wheel; I think it may have come unbalanced somehow. After I went back out it was better and I got a decent spot. We're in good shape."

Pontiac returns to the track for a final practice session tomorrow before the 7:00 p.m. EDT race starts. The event will be televised at 8:00 p.m. on SPEED TV.

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Andy Wallace , Kelly Collins , R.J. Valentine , Mike Rockenfeller