VIR: Series qualifying report

Rolex Series' Rojas, Bernhard on Front Row for Saturday's Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway; Rojas sets Daytona Prototype track record, while Ham earns best-ever GT mark DANVILLE, Va. (April 24, 2009) - Memo Rojas prevailed...

Rolex Series' Rojas, Bernhard on Front Row for Saturday's Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway; Rojas sets Daytona Prototype track record, while Ham earns best-ever GT mark

DANVILLE, Va. (April 24, 2009) - Memo Rojas prevailed in a back-and-forth battle with Timo Bernhard to capture the Daytona Prototype pole position for the Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway. Nick Ham turned in the fastest lap in GT qualifying, with both pole winners shattering the existing track records.

Rojas will start the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley out front when the green flag waves at 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday for Round 2 of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16. (SPEED, live).

Rojas ran a lap of 1:41.646 (115.814 mph). It was the second career pole for Rojas, who will co-drive with 2008 Daytona Prototype co-champion Scott Pruett. The pair also teamed to win the 2007 Bosch Engineering 250. Rojas led qualifying for that event, but was forced to start the race from pit road after his qualifying lap was disallowed due to a technical infraction.

Bernhard ran a lap of 1:42.233 (115.149 mph) in the No. 12 Penske Racing Verizon Wireless Porsche Riley he shares with Romain Dumas. Bernhard was on the provisional pole three times during the session - only to have his time eclipsed by Rojas each time.

Jon Fogarty ran a lap of 1:42.262 (115.116 mph) in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley co-driven by Alex Gurney. Also on the second row will be Burt Frisselle in the No. 61 AIM Autosport/CONSOL Energy Ford Riley co-driven by Mark Wilkins, 1:42.475 (114.877 mph).

The top eight Daytona Prototype drivers were under the existing track record of 1:53.401 set by Michael Valiante in 2008. Darren Law in the No. 58 Brumos Porsche Riley, Nic Jonsson in the No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Lola, John Pew in the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley and Brian Frisselle in the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara also bettered the existing mark.

Ham Changes Plans, Capture GT Pole

Nick Ham planned a nice and easy qualifying session. He stayed out longer than planned, though, and it paid off with the GT pole for the Bosch Engineering 250.

Ham ran a lap of 1:51.742 (105.350 mph) in the No. 70 SpeedSource/Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8, winning his seventh career pole and giving the team its second-straight top spot. Co-driver Sylvain Tremblay led qualifying for the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Dane Cameron will start second in the No. 30 Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda RX-8, 1:51.977 (105.129 mph), giving the 20-year-old his best career start after working his way up the Mazda ladder.

Starting on the second row are Leh Keen in the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3 co-driven by Dirk Werner, 1:52.293 (104.833 mph), joined by Kelly Collins in the No. 07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R shared by Paul Edwards, 1:52.379 (104.753 mph). Defending race winner Andrew Davis will start fifth in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports/Bryan Mark Pontiac GXP.R.

Eight drivers broke Dominik Farnbacher's year-old track record of 1:53.401, with Joe Foster in the No. 40 Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8, Eric Lux in the No. 86 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3 and Emil Assentato in the No. 69 SpeedSource FXDD Mazda also better than the existing mark.

Andy Lally and Justin Marks, who shared the winning No. 67 TRG Porsche GT3 in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, will start 10th.

Final practice for the Rolex Series will be held Saturday from 9:30-10 a.m., with the two-hour, 45-minute race taking the green flag at 2:30 p.m. ET.

NEWS & NOTES

- Setting a track record, No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley driver and race co-winner Memo Rojas earned his second career pole position. Rojas, who earned his only other pole at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in 2008, set a time of 1:41.646 (115.814 mph). The previous track record was set last season Michael Valiante, whose teammate this season - No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley driver John Pew - earned a career-best seventh-starting spot.

- In addition, Rojas becomes the seventh different Daytona Prototype pole winners in as many seasons and ninth driver to record a Rolex Series overall pole since 2002. No driver has ever earned more than one pole at VIR.

- Running second was No. 12 Penske Racing Porsche Riley driver Timo Bernhard, making his first career start at Virginia International Raceway. Bernhard set a time of 1:42.233 (115.149 mph).

- Third and fourth, also under the previous track record were No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley driver Jon Fogarty (1:42.262; 115.116 mph) and No. 61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley driver Burt Frisselle (1:42.475; 114.877 mph). Overall, the top eight qualifiers were under the previous track record.

- The top four cars in Daytona Prototypes were all powered by different engines - Lexus, Porsche, Pontiac and Ford. No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley driver and Rolex 24 At Daytona co-winner Darren Law broke that pattern. The top five cars were all Rileys.

- Also setting a track record in GT qualifying was No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 driver Nick Ham, who set a time of 1:51.742 (105.350 mph). It was Ham's seventh career pole position and first since last year at Barber Motorsports Park.

- Mazda actually swept the front row with the help of No. 30 Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda RX-8 driver Dane Cameron, who set a time of 1:51.977 (105.129 mph). This is the best career start for both Cameron and Racers Edge Motorsports.

- Claiming third was Leh Keen, who qualified the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3 with a time of 1:52.293 (104.833 mph). Fourth was defending season co-champion Kelly Collins, who brought the No. 07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R in with a time of 1:52.379 (104.753 mph).

- Overall, the top eight drivers in GT were under the previous track record of 1:53.401, set last year by Dominik Farnbacher.

POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES (FRONT-ROW STARTERS)

Memo Rojas (No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley; pole): "The team did an awesome job - we had a great car since we rolled off the truck. We're looking for a good race tomorrow. It took me a little bit longer to get my good lap in because of traffic. It's going to be a good race tomorrow."

Timo Bernhard (No. 12 Penske Racing Porsche Riley; second): "We were not accustomed to the track. We really had to learn the track first, especially Romain. This is his first time here. I ran the test here in October. Learning the race track took five to six laps this morning. Then the rest of the time we worked on getting the car focused for the race tomorrow.

"For the qualifying session, we were on the limit. It was a perfect lap that put me first (for a while) and then on the front row in the end. The rest of my laps I had spoiled by other cars in the fast corners or coming out of the pits that spoiled my lap.

Nick Ham (No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8; pole): "It was a fantastic, killer lap. As the tire pressure went up, the tires got better and better. Also, I got a bit of a tow on the front straight and again on the back straight. It wasn't my intention to win the pole on the last lap. I told Sylvain before I went out that I was going to do two laps, and take that. But on the second lap, I got help up, so I stayed out. I know Sylvain was just about to call me in when I started my last lap - and that was the good one."

Dane Cameron (No. 30 Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda RX-8; second): "The car was really good. The team did a great job and made a lot of strong improvements this morning. We just missed it. I needed one more lap - as always! I think we will be real strong tomorrow."

-credit: grand-am

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Alex Gurney , Paul Edwards , Jon Fogarty , Scott Pruett , Michael Valiante , Emil Assentato , Kelly Collins , Andy Lally , Darren Law , Timo Bernhard , Memo Rojas , Justin Marks , Burt Frisselle , Romain Dumas , Chip Ganassi , Mark Wilkins , John Pew , Nick Ham , Lehman Keen , Dominik Farnbacher , Bob Stallings , Joe Foster , Michael Shank , Dirk Werner , Dane Cameron , Felix Sabates , Nic Jonsson
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Team Penske , Krohn Racing , Stevenson Motorsports , Racers Edge Motorsports , SpeedSource , Michael Shank Racing