VIR: Banner Racing qualifying report

Collins' qualifies the Banner Pontiac GXP.R in 2nd but his run hits a snag in the tech shed Danville Virginia (April 26, 2008): In what was a very up and down day Kelly Collins fought off heavy traffic and rallied on the final lap to post the...

Collins' qualifies the Banner Pontiac GXP.R in 2nd but his run hits a snag in the tech shed

Danville Virginia (April 26, 2008): In what was a very up and down day Kelly Collins fought off heavy traffic and rallied on the final lap to post the 2nd fastest qualifying lap of 1:53.463 in the #07 Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R for Sunday's Rolex Grand-Am Bosch Engineering 250 at VIRginia International Raceway.

Unfortunately a minor technical infraction would negate that fine effort and drop the Banner Pontiac to the back of the GT field for Sunday's race.

Collins and his co-driver Paul Edwards battled through steering issues in the morning practice session but Collins was happy with the way his Banner Pontiac was working by sessions end. The Banner team was confident that Kelly could qualify well but when Paul Edwards took the #07 Banner Pontiac GXP.R out for a final run through prior to qualifying he found the car to be handling horribly.

"From the morning session to the afternoon session I liked the car but when Paul got in this afternoon the sway bar backed itself off and went to full soft and he hated it," Collins said after his qualifying run. "I had a pushy to neutral car and Paul had a very loose car and darty car.

"The crew found the problem and they put the setup back to and it was fine but then halfway through the session it started getting loose and darty so I put four more turns in the front (sway bar) and then I struggled painfully to find a clear lap and actually finally got one on that last lap even though my tires were starting to go off."

"Traffic was horrible," Collins said of his qualifying run which saw him constantly balked by other cars in the large GT field. The traffic was so bad that Collins backed well off the pace to cool his tires and to attempt to find an empty hole in the traffic to get in a clean lap.

"Other cars were parking me in the corners it was terrible so I backed way off for a full lap and spaced myself accordingly and still I caught a couple of slow Porsches and had to pass one going into turn one which was my fastest lap to that point and then on my last lap the track was finally clear. The tires were getting slick and I was driving over curbs and pretty much driving in a rage of anger."

Unfortunately the entire qualifying effort was for naught as the ride height on the #07 Banner Pontiac was found to be too low. Initially Grand-Am reported that the front of the car was too low but the crew reported that was not the case.

"The front of the car, which actually means something, was perfect," said team Manager Joe Kantarik. "Actually there was part of the head of a bolt that hit the device Grand-Am uses to measure ride height.

"We are polishing the bottom of the car right now so at least we will have the slickest bottom in the field tomorrow!"

"The ride height violation is tough," said Collins later. "We will put new tires on the car and rage from the back tomorrow."

Leighton Reese qualified the #06 Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R onto the sixth row with a time of 1:55.218 and as was the case with Collins, Reese found the traffic to be a serious issue as he never got in a clean lap.

"When we went out I tried my best to slow down and open up a space in front of me but for some reason some of these other guys don't understand that and they just jumped in front of me so I would have to pass them during my qualifying lap," Reese said of his hectic qualifying run.

"I had to pass three cars, two of them between turns two and three and I had to go offline to do it. I laid back to get an open space in front of me and then two or three cars jump ahead of you. It was crazy. On my best lap I passed three cars so I think with a clear lap I think I could have shaved a half a second off that time or even better.

"I'm disappointed about qualifying 13th but we should have a great car for the race because the Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R is really hooked up right now and about 2 and a half seconds faster than we were this morning and it isn't all sticker tires because the chassis is really working.

"I think our Banner Pontiac will race well tomorrow but it is too bad we are starting so far back. I hope so at least because we have a lot of Banner customers here this weekend so we are going to go out and give them the best show we can!"

-credit: br

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Paul Edwards , Kelly Collins , Leighton Reese