SCC: VIR: Series qualifying report

Pumpelly and Lewis Take Poles for Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Twin Six Hour Finales at VIR ALTON, Va. (October 5, 2007) --Spencer Pumpelly kept his perfect weekend at VIR intact Saturday morning and won the pole for Sunday's season-ending...

Pumpelly and Lewis Take Poles for Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Twin Six Hour Finales at VIR

ALTON, Va. (October 5, 2007) --Spencer Pumpelly kept his perfect weekend at VIR intact Saturday morning and won the pole for Sunday's season-ending Six-Hour Grand-Am KONI Challenge GS race in the No. 49 Marcus Motorsports MAH 720 Property Management/Auriemma Consulting Group Porsche 997.

Pumpelly ripped off a lap of 2:04.453 (94.590 mph) -- his fastest of the weekend so far after also setting the pace in Friday's pair of practice sessions - and will share the front row with the championship leading No. 09 Automatic Racing/Fresh From Florida BMW M3 of Jeff Segal who clocked in second quickest with a lap of 2:04.784 (94.339 mph). Pumpelly, who will co-drive in tomorrow's Six-Hour Grand-Am KONI GS race with Darren Law and Michael Auriemma, topped a tight GS field that saw the top 23 cars qualify within two seconds of each other.

"The guys with Marcus Motorsports did an excellent job getting the car set up," Pumpelly said. "We struggled a little bit in the beginning but I'm really happy with the car now. I'm looking forward to the race with Michael Auriemma and Darren Law. Two good co-drivers combined with this team make a pretty formidable force."

Segal, who can lock up the Grand-Am KONI GS Championship with co-driver Jep Thornton with a 20th place finish or better in tomorrow's race, was the fastest BMW in the field and split a pair of Porsches in the top three. The No. 42 TRG Porsche 997 of Bryan Sellers was third fastest at 2:04.789 (94.335 mph) and he will co-drive with Dan DiLeo and Ross Smith.

Joe Foster, who is second to the Fresh From Florida squad's 279 points lead in the championship with 254 tallies, saw his teammate Scott Maxwell qualify their No. 55 Hyper Sport/SuperCuts Mustang ninth fastest with a lap of 2:05.096 (94.104 mph). Charles Espenlaub is also in the No. 55 driver lineup.

Defending Six-Hour Grand-Am KONI Challenge race winners Tim Traver and Mikel Miller were only 20th fastest with a lap of 2:06.064 (93.381 mph).

Patrick Dempsey arrived at VIR for the first time this weekend Saturday morning after an overnight flight and was pitside when his teammate Rick Skelton qualified the No. 54 Hyper Sport/SuperCuts Mustang 24th on the grid. Skelton and Dempsey will co-drive with Joe Middlebrooks with Foster also listed as a possible fourth driver.

Sunday's Six-Hour Grand-Am KONI Challenge GS finale starts at Noon local time.

LEWIS STAYS PERFECT IN ST

Just like Pumpelly in GS, Shane Lewis continued to top the time sheets for the fourth time in as many sessions this weekend at VIR, winning his first pole of the season in the No. 22 HART Honda Accord in Saturday's ST qualifying session. Lewis will lead the field to green later today for the season-ending Six-Hour Grand-Am KONI Challenge ST race at 3 p.m.

Lewis, who was also fastest in all three of Friday's practice sessions, has been told by the HART squad to drive the No. 22 Accord as hard as he can in this weekend's final race of the season. Following orders, he set the fastest lap of the weekend in Saturday morning's qualifying session - 2:10.313 (90.336 mph).

"The car was awesome," said Lewis, who won with co-driver John Schmitt at Miami earlier this season. "I knew I had to get it done in two laps, which is why I was in the very front of the grid for qualifying. We were able to go out sixth and get a clean run in early. I absolutely love VIR. It is a driver's track and is so much fun to drive. The guys at Honda gave us a great car this weekend. Obviously qualifying was not all that important for a six-hour race but it will be nice to start the car up front. It should be an exciting race."

Championship contender Billy Johnson will start on the outside pole in the No. 76 Kensai Racing Acura TSX after a qualifying lap of 2:11.643 (89.424 mph). Johnson and teammate Karl Thomson, who will be joined by Matt Plumb in today's race, are only five points behind championship leaders Adam Burrows and Trevor Hopwood, 285 - 280, heading into this afternoon's six-hour finale.

Burrows qualified the No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW 330i fifth on the grid with a lap of 2:11.723 (89.369 mph). In between the two championship combatants on the grid is the No. 111 ICY Racing Subaru Legacy of Kristian Skavnes who lapped at 2:11.661 (89.411 mph) for third spot and Jamie Holtom who locked down fourth in the No. 01 Georgian Bay Chevy Cobalt SS with a lap of 2:11.693 (89.390 mph). Five different makes of car - Honda, Acura, Subaru, Cobalt and BMW - were represented in the top five.

Dempsey, who is racing in both events this weekend, qualified the No. 63 Roar Racing Mazda RX-8 30th with a lap of 2:17.859 (85.392 mph). Dempsey will co-drive with Esbenlaub, Andrew Carbonell and Rob Whitener III.

-credit: garra

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Shane Lewis , Kristian Skavnes , Scott Maxwell , Darren Law , Charles Espenlaub , Spencer Pumpelly , John Schmitt , Jep Thornton , Bryan Sellers , Jeff Segal , Matt Plumb , Karl Thomson , Billy Johnson , Ross Smith , Michael Auriemma , Joe Foster , Patrick Dempsey , Rob Whitener III , Tim Traver , Mikel Miller , Trevor Hopwood , Adam Burrows , Andrew Carbonell , Joe Middlebrooks
Teams Turner Motorsport , Automatic Racing , HART