Phoenix: GM Racing GT qualifying report

First Ever Pole Position For Pontiac GTO.R Production-based Race Cars Qualify First and Eighth in Late-night Session at Phoenix International Raceway PHOENIX - Pontiac's pair of GTO.R race cars campaigned by TRG will begin Friday's Phoenix 250...

First Ever Pole Position For Pontiac GTO.R

Production-based Race Cars Qualify First and Eighth in Late-night Session at Phoenix International Raceway

PHOENIX - Pontiac's pair of GTO.R race cars campaigned by TRG will begin Friday's Phoenix 250 on the first and eighth spots of the starting grid. The #64 Pontiac GTO.R of Jan Magnussen and Paul Edwards will start from the pole position having posted the fastest lap time of 1:02:506 during qualifying. The other GTO.R, the #65 car shared by Andy Lally and Marc Bunting, qualified eighth on the grid. The cars, which run in the GT class of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, will have a chance for more attention than usual this weekend as the GT class will not be sharing the track with the Daytona Prototype (DP) class as usual. Instead, the GT class will race Friday night and the DPs the following day.

"This is a tough track for me since I've never raced here," said Paul Edwards, who drove the #64 car to clinch the pole. "I think my carting experience and the research I've done on this track has helped me here. It's the first time the GTO.R will be on the pole and it's been a hard road getting here. We've had some difficulties in qualifying since late June when these cars started racing, and we've made big improvements to the car each time. Now all we have to do is win."

The #64 GTO.R has already won a Rolex Series race after having run only three, and it looked to be a race winner two weeks ago at Mid-Ohio with Ron Fellows filling in for Jan Magnussen. Unfortunately, the car couldn't finish the race due to a broken suspension upright it suffered while leading the GT field. The TRG Pontiac GTO.Rs were not without honorable mention at Mid-Ohio, however, as Bunting and Lally managed a second-place finish. The duo has also done well at previous races, posting two fourth-place finishes in two races.

"I think we have a good, stable car for the race," said Marc Bunting, who qualified eighth in the #65 GTO.R. "I just didn't get the qualifying lap I would have hoped to. We didn't have a whole lot of practice time today and we used some of it to work out a few bugs we had with wheel sensors, but I think it's set up pretty well now. We're on the fourth row of the grid so we're happy."

The heat and sand both will play factors in tomorrow's race as temperatures during tonight's 10:10 p.m. qualifying session still hung in the nineties. Drivers must also pay attention to dust on the track, an issue not common to many of the other tracks on the Rolex Series circuit.

"It's really slick out there," said Edwards. "It's hard to see in the dark because of how dusty it is. The pavement all looks the same too. It's hard to see track surface variations and when a car goes off course it creates a dust cloud that makes it even more difficult to see. Then the car brings the dirt back on to the track. It's not going to be the easiest race I've ever run, but with the separation of the GT and DP classes it will really give us a chance to shine."

The 250 mile GT race will take place on Friday, Sept. 9 at 7:30 p.m. Phoenix time and the DP race will take place the following night at 7:00 p.m. Both races will be shown on SPEED TV; 8:00 EDT on Sept. 10 for the GT race and 4:00 EDT on Sept. 11 for the DP race.

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Paul Edwards , Jan Magnussen , Ron Fellows , Andy Lally , Marc Bunting