Marks and BMW Claim Second-Straight Grand-Am Cup Series Pole at the Miller Grand-Am Cup 200 in Santo Domingo SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (March 12, 2005) -- Justin Marks and BMW went two-for-two in Grand-Am Cup Series qualifying this...
Marks and BMW Claim Second-Straight Grand-Am Cup Series Pole at the Miller Grand-Am Cup 200 in Santo Domingo
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (March 12, 2005) -- Justin Marks and BMW went two-for-two in Grand-Am Cup Series qualifying this season on Saturday when he drove the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 to his second-consecutive pole position in qualifying for Sunday's inaugural Miller Grand-Am Cup 200 at Las Americas Autodromo in Santo Domingo.
The Miller 200 will be the first race run outside of North America in the five-year history of the Grand-Am Cup Series and Saturday featured perfect Caribbean weather with plenty of sunshine and temperatures in the mid-80s. A full field of 35 Grand-Am Cup GS race cars qualified for Sunday's race and the first two days of on-track action have been nearly incident free.
Marks, who posted a pole-winning lap time of 1:23.542 (71.317 mph) on the twisty 1.655-mile, 10-turn circuit, led an impressive field of BMW M3s that swept the top-four positions and five of the top-six spots. The 23-year-old California driver, who is in his first full season of Grand-Am Cup Series competition, was also on the pole in the same No. 96 Turner BMW for the season-opening race last month at Daytona International Speedway. Marks will share the front row with the No. 09 Automatic Racing BMW M3 of David Russell who lapped Las Americas Autodromo at 1:23.561 (71.301 mph).
"You have to turn your quick time early in qualifying and we were able to do that," said Marks who recorded his fast time on his third of just four qualifying laps. "It is going to be a tough race tomorrow, for sure, so I think starting up front and being there for the first few corners in the first few laps will be good, but it is a long race. If that means I have to give up a couple of spots to guys early in the race who are more eager than me, so be it. The key to winning this race will be consistency. Guys who keep on the pace and keep their noses clean will be there at the end."
Marks will co-drive in the Miller 200 with BMW standout Bill Auberlen while Russell will share his BMW with regular co-driver Jep Thornton.
"This race was won or lost back in the shop before we ever got on the ship to come to Santo Domingo," Russell said. "The teams that left with the right set-up and that were best prepared are going to have an advantage. We will just have to keep cool and maintain a good pace. This race will not be won by the fastest car but by the most consistent team."
Close behind the front row was Anders Hainer in the No. 99 Anchor Racing BMW M3 with a lap time of 1:23.746 (71.144 mph). Hainer will co-drive in tomorrow's race with road racing star Boris Said.
"I am Swedish so cooler temperatures are more to my liking and the heat will be a challenge," Hainer said. "On a bigger track like Daytona you have some time to take a little breather for 30 seconds on each lap, but here we will be hard at it all the time. I am just going to try to keep it clean, hand it over to Boris and let him finish the job. He is a great driver, and we have a good shot at winning."
Joe Foster in Anchor's sister No. 93 BMW M3 machine was fourth quickest with a lap time of 1:23.881 (71.029 mph). The No. 05 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang of Gunnar Jeannette spoiled a top-five qualifying sweep for BMW with a lap time of 1:23.976 (70.949 mph).
The No. 90 BMW M3 -- Automatic Racing's second entry -- completed BMW's strong qualifying effort with driver Kris Wilson turning a lap time of 1:24.013 (70.918 mph) to take the sixth spot on the grid.
David Murry was the top qualifying Porsche driver in seventh place with a lap time of 1:24.048 (70.888 mph) in the No. 43 Team Sahlen Porsche 966, but will start from the back of the field after the team failed to submit their driver qualifying nomination form on time.
The Daytona-winning Mustang GT of Ian James qualified eighth with a lap time of 1:24.117 (70.830 mph) while the No. 55 Multimatic Motorsports Mustang GT, that was fastest in Friday's opening practice session, qualified ninth at 1:24.151 (70.801 mph) with Scott Maxwell at the wheel.
The No. 28 Race Prep Motorsport Porsche 966 of Andy Lally qualified 10th but was later moved to the back of the starting grid after failing to meet the minimum weight requirement in post qualifying technical inspection.
The top 12 cars all qualified within a second of each other.
Sunday's schedule gets underway with final practice at 11 a.m. local time with the Miller Grand-Am Cup Miller 200 scheduled to have the green flag drop at 2 p.m. local time.