Ballou Leads TRG Qualifying Effort at GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami With Sixth-Place Performance No. 66 Homestead Qualifying HOMESTEAD, Fla. - In his first qualifying appearance of the 2008 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown ...
Ballou Leads TRG Qualifying Effort at GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami With Sixth-Place Performance
No. 66 Homestead Qualifying HOMESTEAD, Fla. - In his first qualifying appearance of the 2008 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16, Ted Ballou placed the No. 66 Marquis Jet/Mitchell Rubber/Resorts International/IPC/Total Lubricants Porsche GT3 sixth on the starting grid to lead a three-car assault for TRG at the GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami.
Ballou clocked a best lap at 1:20.096 (103.376 mph), just three-tenths off the GT-class pole-winning time of Kelly Collins. Tim George Jr. qualified the No. 67 Gleukos/Monster Cable/WIN Institute/944 Magazine/Wheels Boutique Porsche GT3 16th, while RJ Valentine placed the No. 68 CRG/Maxter/Rotax/MBA Group/F1 Air Porsche GT3 20th on the grid.
"We've got all three cars in the field solidly, and I've got to give the standout performance to Ted Ballou," said TRG owner Kevin Buckler. "He qualified sixth and is surrounded by a field of full-time pros. Ted is balancing a lot in his life to be out there driving that fast. I'm really impressed. All the cars are running well. Tim and RJ did a great job, and we'll look forward to getting our race prep going. Homestead has been really good to us. We will be looking for our fouth win here tomorrow and the team is ready."
Ballou will co-drive the No. 66 machine with Bryce Miller in Saturday's race, which is the second round of the 13-race 2008 championship, thanks to a second-place performance in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona in January. The No. 66 team is currently ranked second in the Rolex Series GT team standings, just three points out of the lead. Miller and Ballou are also just three points back of the lead in the driver standings.
"This the first time this year that I've qualified," Ballou said. "I qualified our car last year for the 24. It feels good to come out of the gate with the car under me. The team did a great job getting the car adjusted just right. The opportunity was really good out there. The car felt great and the tires were good, so I'm excited for the race. I've got some fast guys in front of me, so it's going to be fun. It certainly makes me feel a lot better to be right up near the front, a couple of ticks off."
George's co-driver in the No. 67 machine is Spencer Pumpelly. The duo is five points in arrears of leaders in the GT driver standings, and the No. 67 team is currently third in the team standings-also five points out of the lead-owing to a third-place result in the Rolex 24.
"During the good time in the tires, I was definitely stuck in some traffic," George said. "I kind of got a gap and then caught up to more traffic, so it was one of those things where I just missed the window of the tires. Towards the end, I did get a lap in, but it only put us in the middle of the pack. It's looking good for the rest of the weekend. I feel pretty good. We're third in points coming into this, and I feel strong with Spencer. We have good synergy. We'll see what tomorrow brings."
Valentine will co-drive the No. 68 machine with Bryan Sellers for the first time this weekend. Sellers shared the No. 67 machine with George and Pumpelly, as well as Porsche factory drivers Romain Dumas and Emmanuel Collard in the Rolex 24, while Valentine finished fourth in the Rolex 24 as he teamed with Jim Lowe, Jim Pace, Tim Sugden and Johannes van Overbeek in the No. 64 TRG/J Lowe Racing Porsche GT3. Valentine owns four podium results at Homestead-Miami Speedway and is confident about the team's chances in Saturday's race.
"I feel tremendous going into tomorrow," Valentine said. "We've got a great car. The team is all back together. Having Bryan on-board has been absolutely incredible. He's great on setup, he's a tremendous coach, and he's a good driver. He's money in the bank for us. I think we're going to do well. I didn't qualify as well as I wanted to. I wanted to get in the top 15, but I think I got 20th. I was never a good qualifier, but I'll stick it through the race."
The green flag will drop on the GAINSCO Grand Prix shortly after 3:00 p.m. ET on Saturday. SPEED Channel will carry television coverage on a same-day tape delay beginning at 6:00 p.m. ET. Live Timing & Scoring data for every on-track session is available on www.grand-am.com.
TRG Racing at Homestead, Road Atlanta and Martinsville This Weekend
The three-car Grand-Am Rolex Series effort at Homestead-Miami Speedway is just the tip of the iceberg for TRG, as the team is actually competing in three events at three different facilities this weekend.
TRG Motorsports is fielding a pair of entries for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway. Multi-time Rolex Series champion Andy Lally is driving the team's No. 7 TRG Motorsports/Adobe Road Winery Chevrolet and modified champion Donny Lia is in the No. 71 AutismSpeaks.org Chevrolet. The Kroger 250 takes the green flag at exactly the same time as the GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami-3:00 p.m. ET. TRG also has three Porsches at Road Atlanta for a club event.
"Usually, the truck race is on Friday, so I do that race and then jump on a plane and go to the sports car race," Buckler said. "Since they're at the same time and I call strategy on all three cars in Grand-Am, I'm staying with the sports car guys this weekend at Homestead and I'm checking in on the club guys in Atlanta. Having three teams at three different tracks at the same time with a team of our size is really a testament to the quality of the people we have in place. This is an awesome undertaking, but I'm really proud of everybody for the effort they're putting into making the weekend a success for all three programs."