VIR: Series qualifying report

Valiante to Start on Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Pole for Sunday's Bosch Engineering 250 at VIR Valiante inherits pole after Rojas fails post-qualifying tech; Farnbacher wins No. 87 GT pole ALTON, Va. (April 26, 2008) -- Michael Valiante...

Valiante to Start on Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Pole for Sunday's Bosch Engineering 250 at VIR

Valiante inherits pole after Rojas fails post-qualifying tech; Farnbacher wins No. 87 GT pole

ALTON, Va. (April 26, 2008) -- Michael Valiante became the fourth driver in as many Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 races this season to earn a pole Saturday at Virginia International Raceway, and he will lead the field to the green flag for Sunday's Bosch Engineering 250 at VIR, which begins at 1 p.m.

Valiante's time of 1:43.329 (113.927 mph) put the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Dallara on the pole, the team's first since March 2007 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It also gives Valiante and co-driver Max Angelelli an advantage as they look to defend the team's Virginia International Raceway Rolex Series triumph.

Valiante inherited the pole after current Rolex Series Daytona Prototype point co-leader Memo Rojas and the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley failed post-qualifying technical inspection. The Nos. 01 and the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley, which was originally qualified fourth by Jon Fogarty, had their times disallowed as the wing measurements were out of Grand-Am rules parameters. Rojas and Fogarty will start at the tail of the field.

The pole for the No. 10 is also the first for the new Dallara and comes a week after the team suffered extensive damage to the car in an accident in the Mexico City 250. Valiante and Angelelli also hope their efforts reward them after posting back-to-back finishes outside the top 10.

The shuffle moves Brian Frisselle and the No. 61 AIM Autosport Exchange Traded Gold Ford Riley (1:43.505; 113.734 mph) into the outside front row starting position, the second straight for Frisselle and co-driver Mark Wilkins. The team is looking for its first-ever Rolex Series victory.

David Donohue will start third in the No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley after taking a time of 1:43.801 (113.409 mph), while Joey Hand in the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford moved into the fourth starting position (1:44.439; 112.717 mph). Ricky Taylor, son of SunTrust Racing car owner Wayne Taylor, rounds out the top five (1:44.446; 112.709 mph) in the debut of the No. 19 Beyer Motorsports Ultimate Linings/Lenox Ford Crawford. All five drivers bested the series' previous track qualifying record (1:45.003; 112.111 mph), set last April by Colin Braun and the No. 75 Krohn Racing team.

Farnbacher Score Rolex Series GT Pole After Long Transit to VIR

Dominik Farnbacher spent 34 hours in transit before getting to Virginia International Raceway for Saturday's practice and qualifying, but the wait was well worth it. Farnbacher left Frankfurt, Germany early Friday before getting stopped in Chicago and held overnight. Though tired, he recorded a track record of 1:53.401 (103.809 mph) in the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3 in Saturday's GT qualifying session.

Coming off its victory in the Mexico City 250, Stevenson Motorsports continued its momentum by putting its two cars second and third. Andrew Davis drove the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Stevenson Automotive/BryanMark Financial Porsche GT3 to second (1:53.580; 103.645 mph), while James Gue garnered third in the No. 97 Stevenson Automotive Corvette (1:53.612; 103.616 mph).

Stevenson Motorsports moved up after Kelly Collins and the No. 07 Banner Racing Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R failed post-qualifying technical inspection. Collins was originally scheduled to start second in the car before a post-qualifying infraction -- the car was too low in the front -- forced him to move to the tail of the field. The No. 88 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3, originally qualified 16th by Steve Johnson, also moved to the back of the starting grid after failing to post minimum weight.

Rolex 24 At Daytona co-winner Nick Ham in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazdaspeed/Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8 (1:53.904; 103.350 mph) will start fourth, while Tom Long -- in his second career Rolex Series start -- will start fifth in the No. 21 Matt Connolly Motorsports Pontiac GTO.R (1:53.996; 103.267 mph).

FAST FACTS (POST-QUALIFYING, PRE-RACE)

- This is Michael Valiante's first career Rolex Series pole (1:43.329; 113.927 mph) and the first of the season for the No. 10 SunTrust Racing team.

- Valiante is the fourth driver this season to score a pole position. Others to have won a pole include Oswaldo Negri (Rolex 24 At Daytona), David Donohue (GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami) and Memo Rojas (Mexico City).

- Brian Frisselle's (1:43.505) outside front row starting spot marks the second straight such starting position for AIM Autosport in its first two seasons of competition.

- Five drivers were fastest than last year's Daytona Prototype track qualifying record of 1:45.003 (Colin Braun, 2007).

- This is the first pole for a Pontiac-powered Daytona Prototype in 2008 and first for the manufacturer since August 2007 (Infineon Raceway).

- This is the highest starting spot for the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford since the team qualified second at Barber Motorsports Park in July 2007.

- Both Porsche and Ford have two cars starting in the top five, while Pontiac has one. The top starting Lexus is 11th (No. 3 Southard Motorsports) and top starting BMW is 15th (No. 7 Rum Bum Racing).

- The last team to win a race from the pole was the No. 99 Pontiac Riley (Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty) in August 2007 (Infineon Raceway).

- This is Dominik Farnbacher's first career Rolex Series GT pole (1:53.401; 103.809 mph). He is in his third Rolex Series race of the season driving for Farnbacher Loles Racing.

- This is the second straight pole for Farnbacher Loles Racing and the No. 87 Porsche GT3. Last weekend at Mexico City, another German -- Pierre Kaffer -- earned the pole.

- Farnbacher is the fourth driver this season to capture a Rolex Series GT pole. In addition to Farnbacher and Kaffer, Sylvain Tremblay (Rolex 24 At Daytona) and Kelly Collins (GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami) led the class.

- This is Porsche's second Rolex Series GT pole of the season, the most of any manufacturer in GT. Mazda (Rolex 24) and Pontiac (GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami) have also scored poles.

- While this is Farnbacher Loles Racing's second consecutive pole, the team is chasing its first win since last year's race at VIR, when Werner and Bryce Miller won the race. Ironically, Werner and Farnbacher fought against each other in the waning laps of last year's race on the 3.27-mile track.

- This is the second front row start for Stevenson Motorsports this season (second, Homestead-Miami Speedway).

- This is Corvette's best starting position of the season (third).

- In only his second career Rolex Series race, Tom Long will start the No. 21 Pontiac GTO.R fifth. Long is co-driving car with Diego Alessi.

NOTEBOOK

Pruett, Farnbacher Loles Duo Late at VIR: Daytona Prototype point co-leader Scott Pruett and Farnbacher Loles Racing co-drivers Dominik Farnbacher and Dirk Werner were delayed on separate flights coming out of Chicago and didn't arrive at VIR until midway through or after the first practice session Saturday.

Polesitter Farnbacher and Werner had been in transit for the better part of 34 hours, leaving Frankfurt, Germany before arriving Chicago. However, their flight was delayed and they arrived from Richmond, Va. on Saturday morning. Because they didn't arrive in their original destination -- Greensboro, N.C. -- they didn't receive luggage. They shared HANS devices with their No. 86 counterparts -- Leh Keen and Eric Lux -- during practice.

Pruett, in turn, didn't arrive until after the morning's practice session after being delayed in Sacramento due to two separate mechanical problems as well as weather problems in Chicago. Once in Chicago, he was delayed again until 10 p.m. before his flight was cancelled. He got three hours of sleep before getting back to the airport at 4:30 a.m. for a 6 a.m. flight out of Chicago to Charlotte, with a stop in Atlanta. He finally arrived around noon, giving co-driver Memo Rojas additional practice time. Pruett did however spend 10 minutes in the car during the afternoon session.

"The car felt pretty good," Pruett said. "I don't see any problems for tomorrow."

POST QUALIFYING QUOTES

Michael Valiante (No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Dallara): "I think it's a big, big accomplishment for this team because a week ago this car didn't even have four wheels on it. The crew guys did a great job and the car's been great ever since we rolled it off the trailer, which was encouraging to them because they put so much time into it. Considering this car is so new and we haven't even had a full test day, it's a huge accomplishment for the SunTrust team. During the session, I actually went off once because I was pushing so hard with it being such an important race for SunTrust. I gave it everything I had trying to get everything I could out of the car. It's a great day for SunTrust. It's a great accomplishment for SunTrust to be on the pole, so I'm quite pleased.

Brian Frisselle (No. 61 AIM Autosport Exchange Traded Gold Lexus Riley): "We have a great car and a good starting position for the race. The Exchange Traded Gold No. 61 Ford Riley is fast and good on old tires so I'm really excited for this race. Any time you can be in the top five in this series is good so you have to be pleased with a top three. The team has done a fantastic job and the car was quick out of the box. We did make a lot of changes this morning but they took us in the right direction. Ian (Willis) and Jim (Malacki) made the right calls to get us to this position and we are pleased with all the hard work of the AIM Autosport crew."

Dominik Farnbacher (No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3): "We made a little change on the car between the last session and the qualifying, and it was good. The guys did an awesome job; they worked very fast and definitely the change helped. I tried to drive a few laps because I didn't drive a lot in the sessions before. I'm still tired from the long trip I had, so I just want to go to sleep! I think you cannot really see it right now, but I'm really happy and I'm proud of my guys."

-credit: garra

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Alex Gurney , Jon Fogarty , Scott Pruett , Wayne Taylor , Colin Braun , Michael Valiante , Joey Hand , Kelly Collins , David Donohue , James Gue , Sylvain Tremblay , Memo Rojas , Tom Long , Andrew Davis , Alessi Diego , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Matt Connolly , Mark Wilkins , Pierre Kaffer , Nick Ham , Steve Johnson , Lehman Keen , Brian Frisselle , Dominik Farnbacher , Bob Stallings , Dirk Werner , Felix Sabates , Bryce Miller , Ricky Taylor
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Krohn Racing , Stevenson Motorsports , Rum Bum Racing , SpeedSource