Papis awarded Watkins Glen pole

Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series officials decided to set the starting field for Friday evening's Sahlen's 200 at Watkins Glen International based on Rolex Sports Car Series team points after rain forced the cancellation qualifying on Thursday. This decision handed Chip Ganassi Racing's Max Papis his second consecutive pole and his third of the season.

#01 CGR Grand Am Lexus Riley: Scott Pruett, Max Papis.
Photo by Jack Durbin.
"We had driveshaft problems last time here (during qualifying)," Papis said. "We could only do one lap. Overall, we made a lot of improvement (since then). We have to because all the competition is getting very, very close. I think in practice the top one, two, three and four were only a couple of seconds different. It was a good decision for Grand American personnel not to qualify. It's difficult to control a track like that when it's wet."

Papis and teammate Scott Pruett are chasing their second consecutive win and fourth of the season in Friday's race, which will also feature NASCAR star Tony Stewart's third Rolex Sports Car Series appearance of the year. Stewart will co-drive the Howard Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford with Andy Wallace, who is currently 22-points behind Pruett and Papis in the drivers' championship. Wallace and Stewart will start 15th.

Wayne Taylor, who had the car to beat in the series' last trip to the Glen, will line up next to Papis. "I'm a little disappointed that we didn't get to qualify, but at least we're guaranteed to start on the front row because we are second in team points," he said. Currently fourth in driver points, Taylor also hopes that Papis and his Lexus Riley behave themselves at the start. "I hope everyone will be sensible going into turn one. It's a long race and I hope everyone remembers that at the first turn."

Milka Duno, who co-drove to second with Wallace at Mid-Ohio last week, will start third in her Pontiac Crawford, followed by the Lexus Doran of Oswaldo Negri and the Lexus Doran of Didier Theys. Duno normally drives with Wallace, however, this week she is sharing her Pontiac Crawford with Jan Lammers instead. So far this year, the Rileys of Ganassi Racing and Taylor's SunTrust Racing have outshone the Crawfords and the Dorans. However, recent developments have improved both, especially in the handling department.

In the GT class, Bill Auberlen was awarded his fourth pole of the season. Auberlen, driving the PTG BMW M3 with Justin Marks, will be chasing his seventh straight class win of 2004. He currently leads the drivers' championship. Chris Gleason and Jay Policastro, both in Porsches, will start second and third in class.

SGS points leader Marc Bunting will lead the class to the green flag in the TPC Racing Porsche. Teammate Michael Levitas and Orison Planet Earth Racing's Craig Stanton will round out the top-three.