Mexico City: Saturday qualifying report

Rookie McDowell Claims Pole for La Gran Final de la Serie Rolex Sports Car MEXICO CITY (November 4, 2005) -- Michael McDowell posted an overall qualifying-best lap time of 1:44.964 (95.553 mph) in the No. 19 Finlay Motorsports BMW Riley late in...

Rookie McDowell Claims Pole for La Gran Final de la Serie Rolex Sports Car

MEXICO CITY (November 4, 2005) -- Michael McDowell posted an overall qualifying-best lap time of 1:44.964 (95.553 mph) in the No. 19 Finlay Motorsports BMW Riley late in the session to claim the pole position for the Grand American Road Racing Association La Gran Final de la Serie Rolex Sports Car (November 5, Live on SPEED Channel, 4:00 p.m. ET) at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriquez in Mexico City.

The pole was the first ever for BMW in the Daytona Prototype category and the first career Rolex Sports Car Series pole for McDowell, who is also competing in the Champ Car World Series finale on Sunday.

"The experience of driving a Champ Car and a Daytona Prototype was definitely a big help in terms of being more familiar with the track," McDowell said. "The Champ Car is so high-strung that it gave me confidence to really throw the Daytona Prototype around. My teammate, Memo Gidley, who was actually born in La Paz, Mexico, did such a good job setting up the car that is was fairly easy to do the pole lap, and we can run that pace all day long tomorrow."

Starting on the outside of Row 1 will be defending Daytona Prototype co-champion Scott Pruett, who qualified the No. 01 Telmex CompUSA Lexus Riley for Chip Ganassi Racing second with a quick lap of 1:45.302 (95.246 mph). Pruett and teammate Luis Diaz, a Mexico City native, trail the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley duo of Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor by 32 points in the championship chase. Although mathematically alive in the title hunt, Pruett's chances of a repeat are slim. However, a win for himself and fan-favorite Diaz would put an exclamation point on a successful 2005 campaign.

"I knew it was pretty close and unfortunately I'm coming off a pretty bad accident last week in Atlanta, so I'm not actually 100%," said Pruett. "The Telmex guys did a great job, and Luis gave me some great pointers on the race track. It's all about going racing tomorrow, it's a big event for us. This is Luis' house, so I hope that we can come tomorrow and make a real hard run for the win."

Jorg Bergmeister will start on the inside of Row 2 after posting a third-best lap of 1:45.958 (94.656 mph) in the No. 66 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley. Ken Wilden was fourth in the No. 6 Mears Motor Coach/Graydon Elliott Capital Pontiac Riley with a 1:45.992 (94.626 mph), and Matteo Bobbi was fifth in the No. 77 Crown Royal Special Reserve Ford Doran with a quick lap of 1:46.174 (94.464 mph).

Bill Auberlen will lead the GT field in tomorrow's season finale after qualifying the No. 05 Sigalsport BMW M3 first with a lap time of 1:53.200 (88.601 mph). It is the third pole of the season for Auberlen, who qualified first in class for BMW Team PTG in Round 3 at California Speedway and in the Crown Royal 250 at Watkins Glen International in September.

"This is something that I know, because this is the No. 16 BMW PTG car that has won a lot of races this year," said Auberlen. "Sigalsport bought all these terrific cars, and they are looking good. They brought a lot of my BMW engineers to this event, so it's a joy. I didn't think I would make it to Mexico, but I did, and I am so glad. This is very rare to see a crowd this great, and I can't wait for the race."

Auberlen will co-drive the No. 05 machine this weekend with Sigalsport regulars Gene Sigal and Matthew Alhadeff. Auberlen is searching for his fourth class victory of the season, having won at California Speedway, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and in the VIR 400 at Virginia International Raceway one race ago.

Paul Edwards qualified the No. 64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R second, but due to technical infractions, the No. 64 machine and its sister car, the No. 65 TRG Pontiac GTO.R, will start at the back of the field.

The No. 80 Synergy Racing Porsche GT3 Cup will now start second, with Craig Stanton posting a 1:54.554 (87.553 mph). The No. 14 Keen Cap/Toptul Porsche GT3 Cup will start third after a 1:54.958 (87.246 mph) by Leh Keen.

The Rolex Series cars will take to the track for one final practice session at 8:00 a.m. (9:00 a.m. ET) Saturday morning, and the green flag waves for La Gran Final de la Serie Rolex Sports Car at 3:00 p.m. local time (4:00 p.m. ET), and the 90-lap race will have a two-hour and 45-minute time limit.

-grand american road racing association-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Paul Edwards , Memo Gidley , Scott Pruett , Wayne Taylor , Bill Auberlen , Luis Diaz , Jörg Bergmeister , Michael McDowell , Matteo Bobbi , Max Angelelli , Ken Wilden , Craig Stanton , Chip Ganassi , Gene Sigal , Lehman Keen , Matthew Alhadeff
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Krohn Racing