Mexico City: Friday qualifying report

Pruett Takes Seventh Career Rolex Series Pole Position in Mexico City MEXICO CITY, Mexico (March 3, 2006) -- Scott Pruett earned what may have been the most popular pole position of his Rolex Series career when he put the No. 01 TELMEX Chip ...

Pruett Takes Seventh Career Rolex Series Pole Position in Mexico City

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (March 3, 2006) -- Scott Pruett earned what may have been the most popular pole position of his Rolex Series career when he put the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley on the inside of the front row for Saturday's Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Mexico City 250 (SPEED, 8:00 p.m. ET).

The 2004 Daytona Prototype co-champion clocked a best lap at 1:22.732 (108.785 mph) midway through Friday's 15-minute qualifying session and managed to remain atop the time charts through the end of the session, much to the delight of his co-driver, Mexico City-native Luis Diaz, and the Mexican race fans. It was the seventh pole position of Pruett's Rolex Series career, and was his first pole since the event at Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant last May.

"My whole focus for this weekend was getting the pole, and in turn starting the race in the clear so Luis could have the car in a position to win in the end," said Pruett. "We accomplished the first part of that today by starting where we are, but our work doesn't stop there. Mexico City is all about Luis. I'm just here along with the Ganassi team, doing everything it takes right now to get the TELMEX car to the front to stay. Hopefully, the race will play out in our favor and we can make a trip to Victory Lane for all the folks from TELMEX this weekend."

Starting alongside Pruett will be Brian Frisselle, who turned in the best qualifying performance of his Rolex Series career aboard the No. 8 GlycoMax Porsche Doran for Synergy Racing. Frisselle logged a best lap at 1:23.139 (108.252 mph) around the 2.5-mile Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit to secure the second position on the starting grid. He will share the No. 8 machine with his brother, Burt Frisselle, in the Mexico City 250.

"I'm really happy to be up on the front row for tomorrow's race," said Brian Frisselle. "The GlycoMax car and the Porsche power were absolutely spot-on, and I have to thank Synergy Racing for giving me such a great car today. I really struggled yesterday, so to come back and post such a strong time really boosts my confidence. This car is really set up to go racing, not for a one-lap flyer, so we are pretty confident looking forward to tomorrow's race."

Michael McDowell--who started from the pole position in the inaugural Rolex Series event in Mexico City last November--will start third on Saturday. McDowell turned in a best lap of 1:23.143 (108.247 mph) in the No. 19 Playboy/Uniden/Palms Ford Crawford for Playboy/Uniden Racing. McDowell and co-driver Memo Gidley enter Saturday's race looking to repeat their 2005 victory at Mexico City, which was the first Rolex Series victory for either driver.

Mario Haberfeld posted a best lap at 1:23.328 (108.007 mph) aboard the No. 12 Lowe's Fernandez Racing Pontiac Riley to make it four different engine manufacturers in the top-four starting positions. Haberfeld made his Rolex Series debut at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez last year with Tuttle Team Racing, but will co-drive in Saturday's race with arguably Mexico's biggest racing star, Adrian Fernandez.

Colin Braun rounded out the top five in the No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Riley. Braun posted a best lap at 1:23.335 (107.998 mph) in the No. 76 machine he is sharing with German Jorg Bergmeister, and the 17-year-old is looking to become the youngest winner in Rolex Series history.

Alex Figge will start sixth in the No. 89 Playboy/Vonage Pontiac Riley with a best lap of 1:23.450 (107.849 mph). Figge shares the Pacific Coast Motorsports machine with Scotland's Ryan Dalziel. Harrison Brix qualified seventh in the No. 77 Kodak/Amp'd Mobile/Sirius Ford Doran at 1:23.517 (107.762 mph) and will co-drive with Feeds The Need/Doran Racing teammate Terry Borcheller, the 2003 Daytona Prototype champion.

Owner/driver Eddie Cheever Jr. placed the No. 39 Crown Royal Special Reserve/Cheever Racing Porsche Crawford eighth on the starting grid. Cheever logged a best lap of 1:23.564 (107.702 mph) and will co-drive on Saturday with Brazilian Christian Fittipaldi.

Starting ninth will be Butch Leitzinger in the No. 4 The Boss Snowplow Pontiac Crawford for Howard-Boss Motorsports. Leitzinger ran a best qualifying lap of 1:23.612 (107.640 mph) in the car he shares with Englishman Andy Wallace. Darren Law completed the top 10 with a lap at 1:23.697 (107.531 mph) in the No. 58 Red Bull Porsche Fabcar he co-drives with Brumos Racing teammate David Donohue. The top 10 cars in qualifying were covered by less than one second.

One car that would have been a contender for the top 10, the No. 60 Flight Options Lexus Riley co-driven by Oswaldo Negri Jr. and Mark Patterson, will not compete in the Mexico City 250. After posting the fastest practice time on Thursday, Negri crashed hard in Turn 8 during Friday's morning practice session. Patterson and Negri--who are the highest-ranking drivers in the Daytona Prototype point standings in Mexico City--will instead drive a Pontiac-powered No. 60 Flight Options Riley, which was obtained from Tuttle Team Racing/SAMAX just prior to qualifying.

The car was originally entered as the No. 0 Tuttle Team Racing/SAMAX Pontiac Riley for co-drivers Jonathan Cochet and car owner Brian Tuttle. However, the team also entered the No. 7 Tuttle Team Racing/SAMAX BMW Riley for Cochet and Tuttle, and the team elected to qualify that car for the race, making the No. 0 machine available.

The Mexico City 250 will take the green flag at 4:15 p.m. ET (3:15 p.m. local time), with live timing & scoring and live audio webcasts available in English and Spanish on www.grandamerican.com. SPEED will provide tape-delayed television coverage beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET on Saturday evening.

COLLINS PUTS 2005 GT-WINNING NO. 64 TRG PONTIAC GTO.R ON CLASS POLE

With a lap time of 1:29.864 (100.151 mph) on the third lap of Friday morning's 15-minute qualifying session, Kelly Collins will lead the GT field into tomorrow's Mexico City 250 in the No. 64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R. The No. 64 machine was driven to the class victory in La Gran Final de la Serie Rolex Sports Car in 2005 by Paul Edwards--who is co-driving with Collins this weekend--and Jan Magnussen. This is the second career GT pole for Collins, and his first since Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last May.

"The balance of the car is really good," said Collins. "It is really easy to drive through the twisty corners and it behaves well through the final turn onto the long front stretch. We will have to be careful in traffic because one small hit can ruin our day. Paul and I will be looking to defend the team's win here last year."

Robin Liddell will start alongside Collins in the No. 72 NEC/Rembrandt Charms Porsche GT3 after posting a time of 1:23.139 (108.252 mph) on his first recorded lap. Liddell--co-driving with Tafel Racing teammate Wolf Henzler--is making his sixth career Rolex Series start this weekend. The duo is looking to stay near the top of the GT point standings after finishing sixth in class with Graham Rahal and Johannes van Overbeek in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Tafel Racing put a second car in the top-three positions on the grid, as Andrew Davis posted a lap time of 1:30.630 (99.305 mph) in the No. 73 NEC/Rembrandt Charms Porsche GT3. Davis is sharing the No. 73 machine this weekend with team owner Jim Tafel.

Leh Keen qualified the No. 80 Synergy Racing Porsche GT3 fourth on the GT grid after a lap of 1:31.130 (98.760 mph). Keen is co-driving this weekend with teammate David Murry, whose last lap pass of Andy Lally on this circuit last November clinched the 2005 GT title for then-co-driver Craig Stanton.

Marc Bunting rounded out the top five class qualifiers, turning in a time of 1:31.208 (98.676 mph) in the No. 65 TRG/F1 Air Pontiac GTO.R. Bunting and co-driver Lally finished fourth in the season finale in Mexico City a year ago en route to the 2005 GT team championship, one point shy of Stanton in the final driver standings.

-garra-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Andy Wallace , Jonathan Cochet , Ryan Dalziel , Paul Edwards , Mario Haberfeld , Jan Magnussen , Butch Leitzinger , Eddie Cheever , Memo Gidley , Adrian Fernandez , Christian Fittipaldi , Scott Pruett , David Murry , Graham Rahal , Colin Braun , Robin Liddell , Kelly Collins , Luis Diaz , Andy Lally , Terry Borcheller , Darren Law , David Donohue , Jörg Bergmeister , Michael McDowell , Johannes van Overbeek , Alex Figge , Burt Frisselle , Andrew Davis , Craig Stanton , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Marc Bunting , Chip Ganassi , Jim Tafel , Harrison Brix , Lehman Keen , Brian Frisselle , Brian Tuttle
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Krohn Racing