Watkins Glen: Banner Racing qualifying report

Edwards makes the Banner Team's gamble pay off with run to the front row at Watkins Glen Watkins Glen, N.Y. (June 6, 2008): The Banner Racing gambled with the setup and Paul Edwards drove the No. 07 Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R like he ...

Edwards makes the Banner Team's gamble pay off with run to the front row at Watkins Glen

Watkins Glen, N.Y. (June 6, 2008): The Banner Racing gambled with the setup and Paul Edwards drove the No. 07 Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R like he stole it with positive results as Paul qualified 2nd for Saturday's Round 6 of the Rolex Grand-Am Championships Presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 the Sahlen's 6-Hours at The Glen. Andy Pilgrim qualified the No 06 Banner Pontiac GXP.R in the 12th position.

Friday's practice sessions were a struggle for the Banner Racing team to find an adequate setup for their Pontiacs as the combination of a competition adjustment by the Grand-Am Series, which added 100 pounds and changed the weight distribution of the Pontiac GXP.R, and abnormally high temperatures here in upstate New York made life hard to find a decent balance on the cars.

Edwards' time of 1:52.850 on his second lap held up for the second best time to pole sitter Jeff Segal who recorded a 1:52.329 on his sixth pass around the 3.4 mile Watkins Glen Long Course. Edwards parked his Banner Pontiac after three laps saying, "That was all we had to day and I am thrilled with it. The way the day started I would never have thought we would wind up on the front row!"

"We put on a new set of tires at the end of the last practice," Edwards said. "I think this is the first time we have ever done that. After that practice we made some pretty bold setup moves and the car was the best it had been all day. We put in only the minimal amount of fuel to keep the weight of the car down and I was able to get a clear lap and put in a good time. Since I haven't qualified the car all year I drove it a little over my head and was able to keep it under me. I am not sure if I could repeat that lap."

"It was nice to be qualifying again," said Edwards who qualified the #07 Bnner Pontiac for the first time since the Rolex 24-hour back in January. "I do think that it means something tht I won the pole here last year. Going out number two behind the number 69 gave us a nice clean lap with no traffic. I couldn't have gone any faster!"

Andy Pilgrim qualified the No. 06 Banner Pontiac GXP.R in 12th fighting through constant traffic with a best lap of 1:54.418 on his sixth lap.

"I had traffic every lap," Pilgrim said. "My warm-up lap was good, that was about it. I went a second faster than I did in the previous practice and probably had a few more tenths in the car. I would get a good lap and then traffic or someone would go off. The car is good. It was just frustrating not to get the car further up the field for the start."

Paul Edwards and his co-driver Kelly Collins will begin the Sahlen's 6-Hour at The Glen with the Championship points lead and going in that was all Paul was thinking about. But that is going to be difficult in the long run.

"The combination of the recent adjustments and the heat have caused our tires to hit the highest temperatures the Pirellis have ever recorded on the Pontiac GXPs and that has us concerned," said team manager Joe Kantarik.

"It is going to be tough," Edwards said of Saturday's race. "We have to stay out of trouble and try to stay as close as possible to our main competitors in the championship. That's our first objective. We all want to win, but we can't afford to lose any points to our competition. This is my favorite track so hopefully I get a lot of laps around here!"

Andy Pilgrim will co-drive with Banner Racing team owner Leighton Reese and Marc Bunting in the #06 Banner Pontiac GXP.R. Pilgrim co-drove with Reese in this event last year.

-credit: br

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Paul Edwards , Andy Pilgrim , Kelly Collins , Leighton Reese , Marc Bunting , Jeff Segal