Limoges Takes First Career KONI Challenge Pole Position at Homestead-Miami Speedway HOMESTEAD, Fla. (April 14, 2007) -- Canadian racer Valerie Limoges became the first female driver to earn an overall pole position for a Grand-Am-sanctioned race...
Limoges Takes First Career KONI Challenge Pole Position at Homestead-Miami Speedway
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (April 14, 2007) -- Canadian racer Valerie Limoges became the first female driver to earn an overall pole position for a Grand-Am-sanctioned race when she turned a best lap at 1:28.800 (93.243 mph) in the No. 4 USG Sheetrock/Ramset Tools Ford Mustang GT to secure the top starting spot for Sunday's Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Miami GS 400k at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Limoges will share the front row with her car owner and Blackforest Motorsports teammate Tom Nastasi, who placed the team's No. 5 USG Sheetrock/Ramset Tools Ford Mustang GT second on the grid with a lap at 1:29.979 (93.056 mph). Limoges enters the Miami 400k looking to exceed her previous best KONI Challenge Series result of fourth, which she achieved last year at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
"I'm very happy," Limoges said. "The team did a very good job this weekend. We were fast all weekend long and it paid off. It ranks pretty high. I'm very happy. We have a good car, and I have a good co-driver, Tom Nastasi, so we should do pretty good for the race."
Nastasi enters Sunday's second round of the 12-race 2007 KONI Challenge Series as the Grand Sport (GS) class points leader by virtue of his victory alongside co-driver David Empringham in January's Fresh From Florida 200 season-opener at Daytona International Speedway. Nastasi's co-driver in the No. 5 machine this weekend will be Ian James.
"First of all, I'm sorry to say (Blackforest Motorsports team owner) Brian Nott's not here, because he's sick and we miss him," said Nastasi. "This front row was for him, I just thought it was going to be the other way around. I'm very proud of Valerie, finally, because her weak link has been qualifying, like mine has always been. I screwed up so bad with this, but I'm lucky to have second. She just really tackled it. I saw I was holding her up, too. I knew we didn't have a lot of time, and just winged one out."
Starting third will be Bryan Ortiz with a best lap at 1:29.284 (92.738 mph) in the No. 79 Said Head Performance/ Savvion BMW M3 for Kinetic Motorsports. Ortiz is in his first full season of KONI Challenge Series competition and will share the ride this weekend with Shawn Price, who will drive in place of his regular co-driver Boris Said.
Joe Foster put the No. 55 Supercuts/Hyper Sport Ford Mustang GT fourth on the grid with a lap at 1:29.314 (92.707 mph). Foster started the Fresh From Florida 200 from the pole position and finished second in the race with co-driver Scott Maxwell, and the duo could charge to the top of the GS standings with another strong performance this weekend in South Florida.
Steve Mahre, a celebrated downhill skier who won a silver medal in the slalom in the 1984 Winter Olympics, completed the top five with a lap at 1:29.483 (92.532 mph) in the No. 17 Team Centurion Ford Mustang GT. He is sharing the car with his brother, Phil Mahre, who took the gold medal in the same Olympic slalom event in 1984.
HEMMINGSON BRINGS SUBARU ITS FIRST KONI CHALLENGE SERIES POLE
Iowan Chuck Hemmingson gave Subaru its first-ever Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series pole position with a lap at 1:33.328 (88.719 mph) in the No. 111 ICY/Phoenix Racing Subaru Legacy, and will roll off the grid from the inside of Row 1 in Sunday morning's Miami ST 400k. Hemmingson is sharing the ride with Kristian Skavnes.
"We messed around with the setup and it all came together for qualifying, I guess," Hemmingson said. "The Legacy sedan spec.B is brand new for us this year. We did run the Legacy wagon last year, built off of the knowledge we gained off that, and did some refinements to this car when it was built. The Subaru all-wheel drive is an awesome combination so we're tickled to death. It's very important to start up front. I was gunning for the pole as hard as I could, but based on the practice times I didn't think we could get it. We ran some pretty old rubber. We put stickers on for qualifying, because we just wanted to scuff them for the race. We didn't want to put too many laps of practice on them. We thought we were kind of out to lunch a little bit in practice, but we knew we'd go faster on the stickers. I'm really tickled to have the pole."
Joining Hemmingson on the front row will be Adam Burrows in the No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW 330i following a best qualifying lap at 1:34.112 (87.980 mph). Burrows and co-driver Trevor Hopwood are sharing the same car that team owner Will Turner and Don Salama co-drove to the 2006 ST title. Turner and Salama have moved to the GS class this season.
"Obviously, with the competition as tough as it is, starting position is certainly an important factor. I couldn't be more pleased to be up here on the front row with all these guys," Burrows said. "Turner Motorsport did the most amazing job preparing this BMW. I couldn't say enough about those guys and the job that they do. When you see how Will does business and the way he takes care of his crew and makes sure that everything is done right, you understand why it's a championship-winning team. I mean, it's really first rate. I feel fortunate that Trevor and I can race with Will this year, and certainly hope for good things throughout the rest of the season."
After a dominating performance at Daytona that saw Acuras sweep the top-three class starting positions and the top-five finishing positions, Bob Endicott was the marque's top qualifier with a third place run aboard the No. 144 Davis Motorsports Acura RSX-S at 1:34.286 (87.818 mph). Endicott is co-driving this weekend with Ken Dobson.
John Schmitt qualified fourth with a lap at 1:34.308 (87.797 mph) in the No. 22 HART Honda Accord he is sharing with KONI Challenge Series and Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve veteran Shane Lewis. Kenny Wilden completed the ST top five in the No. 01 Scada Pack/Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt at 1:34.390 (87.721 mph). Wilden's co-driver is multiple-time ST race-winner Jamie Holtom.
Six different makes and seven different models were represented in the top seven positions on the ST grid, as Andrew Lewis put the No. 113 GSM Motorsports Volkswagen GTI sixth at 1:34.497 (87.622 mph) and Christian Miller qualified seventh in the No. 32 i-MOTO Racing Acura TSX at 1:34.646 (87.484 mph).