SCC: VIR: Friday practice report

ALTON, Va. (April 21, 2006) -- In practice for Sunday's Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve VIR 400 (SPEED, 1 p.m. ET), Brazil's Oswaldo Negri Jr. got his weekend off to a good start by posting the day's...

ALTON, Va. (April 21, 2006) -- In practice for Sunday's Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve VIR 400 (SPEED, 1 p.m. ET), Brazil's Oswaldo Negri Jr. got his weekend off to a good start by posting the day's quickest lap in the No. 60 Flight Options Lexus Riley.

The Michael Shank Racing driver logged a lap at 1:45.838 (111.227 mph) around the challenging, 3.27-mile permanent road course in the first of the day's two practice sessions. The time held up through the second session, putting Negri and co-driver Mark Patterson in the catbird seat heading into Saturday's morning practice and the first-ever qualifying race for the Daytona Prototype class. The starting grid for the 30-minute qualifying race on Saturday afternoon will be set according to practice times on Saturday morning. For his part, Negri is enthusiastic about the qualifying race.

"I think it will be cool," Negri said. "It gives a Pro-Am team a little more chance to score more points. It can help you or it can totally hurt you. I can tell you it was an absolutely perfect lap (on Friday). I'm pretty sure the No. 23, No. 10 and No. 01 are quicker than what shows. It's going to be a pretty exciting race for qualifying, and the practice is going to be interesting. It's hard to get a clear lap."

Turning in the second-quickest time of the day, also in the morning session, was Alex Gurney in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley. Gurney's best lap was 1:45.984 (111.073 mph), and the Californian is joined this weekend by a new co-driver, two-time Toyota Atlantic champion Jon Fogarty. Gurney is also excited about the team's prospects this weekend after a rough beginning to the season. The team has rented a Pontiac Riley for the weekend from Tuttle Team Racing as the team's previous car was severely damaged in a crash by Rocky Moran Jr. in the Crown Royal Grand American Challenge of Long Beach two weeks ago.

"It's a huge help," Gurney said. "I think it's going to work out to be 19 races instead of 14. There are lots of points on the table and I think we still have a shot at the championship. The team and the car are working really well. We can still challenge for the championship and we're going to try to do it. It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks with Rocky's crash, getting Jon and having to rent a car. We just showed up here and the car is hooked up. Jon is really quick already and we're really helping each other. We might be at a little power disadvantage but not too bad. I hope it doesn't rain tomorrow and we get to run the morning session to set the grid for the qualifying race."

Christian Fittipaldi was third quickest with a lap at 1:46.040 (111.015 mph) in the No. 39 Crown Royal Special Reserve/Cheever Racing Porsche Crawford, making it three different engine manufacturers in the top three. Fittipaldi shares the car with team owner and 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr.

Daytona Prototype points co-leader Scott Pruett was fourth quickest at 1:46.150 (110.900 mph) in the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley. Pruett and co-driver Luis Diaz are the defending champions of the VIR 400 and look to extend their lead in the championship standings in both Saturday's qualifying race and Sunday's feature.

Mike Rockenfeller completed the top five in the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford. The Porsche factory driver logged a best lap at 1:46.221 (110.826 mph) in the machine fielded by Alex Job Racing. Rockenfeller's co-driver is fellow Porsche factory pilot Patrick Long. The top 10 cars in the combined practice times turned laps within one second, with six different chassis and engine combinations represented.

HENZLER TOPS GT CHARTS FRIDAY AT VIR

Wolf Henzler posted the fastest time of the day in the GT class during the second of two practice sessions Friday at VIR with a lap at 1:56.952 (100.657 mph) in the No. 72 NEC Porsche GT3 for Tafel Racing.

Henzler is sharing the car with regular co-driver Robin Liddell, and the duo has improved its finishing position in each of the year's first three races. They followed up a sixth-place class run in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona with a fourth-place result in Mexico City and a podium finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway, finishing third last month.

"We have been fast since Daytona but we haven't put it all together yet," said Henzler. "To win these races, everything must be 100 percent. If even one thing is not there, you won't win. Competition is so close that even the slightest mistake can cost you the race. Hopefully during tomorrow's qualifying race I can put the (No.) 72 car near the front for Sunday's race, and we can get the win."

Andy Lally was second quickest with a lap at 1:57.170 mph (100.469 mph) in the morning session in the No. 65 TRG/F1 Air Pontiac GTO.R he is sharing this weekend with regular co-driver Marc Bunting. Lally and Bunting come into the VIR 400 just four points behind TRG teammates--and points leaders--Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards (88-84), but are coming off their worst finish of the season, a ninth-place class finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway last month.

"The crew has been working very hard since we got here making this car faster," said Lally. "I'm thrilled for this qualifying race tomorrow. I love the format, and I haven't been in a sprint race in a long time. I'm looking forward to racing against this group of guys. It's going to be a real tight battle because it's points-paying."

Edwards tied for the third fastest lap of the day in the No. 64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R, logging a lap at 1:57.336 (100.327 mph). Edwards and Collins are coming into this weekend having won the previous two races, which quickly avenged a 13th-place class finish in the Rolex 24.

Tying Edwards with the identical lap time of 1:57.336 (100.327 mph) was Robert Bell in the No. 17 SAMAX Porsche GT3. Bell is sharing the driving duties with Ian James at VIR. Andrew Davis was fifth-fastest in the No. 73 NEC Porsche GT3 for Tafel Racing. Davis shares the car with team owner/co-driver Jim Tafel. The tandem scored their best finish of the year two races ago, a fifth-place class run at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.

BORCHELLER PUTS BOY RACER ON TOP OF GRAND-AM CUP SERIES SPEED CHARTS

Terry Borcheller posted a time of 2:05.596 (93.729 mph) in the No. 2 Feeds the Need Racing Mustang GT for Blackforest Motorsports on the final lap of the second practice session, the fastest time of Friday's two sessions in preparation for Saturday's VIR 200. Borcheller is sharing the machine with Scott Turner, and the 2003 Daytona Prototype champion is pulling double-duty this weekend, also co-driving the No. 77 Kodak/Amp'd Mobile Ford Doran Daytona Prototype with Harrison Brix in the Rolex Series VIR 400 on Sunday afternoon.

David Murry was second quickest on the day, logging a lap at 2:05.605 (93.722 mph) in the No. 33 Playboy Nissan 350Z during the afternoon session. Murry is also entered in each Grand American event this weekend, sharing the No. 80 Shoes For Crews/Synergy Racing Porsche GT3 with Leh Keen in the VIR 400.

Road racing stalwart Boris Said logged the third-fastest lap of the day--also coming in the afternoon session--with a lap time of 2:05.625 (93.707 mph) in the No. 97 Turner Motorsport/Under Armour. Said is sharing the driving duties this weekend with Swede Anders Hainer.

In the Street Tuner class, Eric Curran posted the fastest lap of the day in the No. 01 Clearscada/GM Performance Division Chevrolet Cobalt for Georgian Bay Motorsports with a lap at 2:10.607 (90.133 mph). Curran is co-driving this weekend with Canadian Jamie Holtom.

-garra

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Alex Gurney , Paul Edwards , Boris Said , Eddie Cheever , Christian Fittipaldi , Jon Fogarty , Scott Pruett , David Murry , Robin Liddell , Rocky Moran Jr. , Kelly Collins , Luis Diaz , Ian James , Andy Lally , Terry Borcheller , Patrick Long , Eric Curran , Andrew Davis , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Marc Bunting , Chip Ganassi , Mike Rockenfeller , Scott Turner , Mark Patterson , Anders Hainer , Wolf Henzler , Jim Tafel , Harrison Brix , Alex Job , Michael Shank
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Turner Motorsport , HART , Alex Job Racing , Michael Shank Racing