Watkins Glen II: GM Racing qualifying report

SunTrust Pontiac To Start Third At The Glen GAINSCO Pontiac qualifies fourth Watkins Glen, NY, August 7, 2008 -- The SunTrust Pontiac Daytona Prototype (DP) driven by Michael Valiante will start third for tomorrow's running of round 11 of the ...

SunTrust Pontiac To Start Third At The Glen
GAINSCO Pontiac qualifies fourth

Watkins Glen, NY, August 7, 2008 -- The SunTrust Pontiac Daytona Prototype (DP) driven by Michael Valiante will start third for tomorrow's running of round 11 of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Crown Royal 200 at Watkins Glen.

*Childress-Howard Motorsports Pontiac Crawford debuts
*GAISNCO Pontiac drivers Gurney and Fogarty top Pontiac DP team in second
*GAINSCO defending Glen short course winners

Michael Valiante posted a time of 1:06.027 on the 2.45-mile, 11-turn Watkins Glen short course good for a third place starting position for tomorrow's two-hour race. Valiante is teamed with Max Angelelli and together will be looking to deliver the SunTrust team their first win of the season.

"We made really good progress considering this is the first time we've had the Dallara here," Valiante said. "Qualifying went well, I think. Of course, you want to be P1, but I had a pretty good lap. Sitting third is a good place to start here because it gives you an opportunity to lead going into the first corner. The key now is to work on the car and have a really good race car so we're quick for the long runs. I think we're looking pretty good for tomorrow. The track is basically the least technical track that we go to. It's basically just like an oval. And the times are really close among most of the cars in the field. So it's going to come down to who makes the least number of mistakes."

GAINSCO/Bob Stallings racing driver Jon Fogarty put in a time of 1:06.163 and will start from the second row in fourth. Fogarty had an off in the Bus Stop and had to extricated. Grand-Am rules dictate that when a driver causes a black flag, stoppage of the session, the driver loses their fastest qualifying time and are parked for the remainder of the session. Fogarty's fast time of the session would have had him starting third. Fogarty and teammate Alex Gurney are the defending short course winners from last year.

"The team told me on the radio what the No. 61 team had done for a time and I had to just absolutely go for it," Fogarty said. "I probably just took it into the Bus Stop a little too much but that was the only way we were going to potentially get the pole. It didn't work. We can't make up that much time in the corners. We are starting fourth, that's not a bad position. The car feels good, but it's just going to be a difficult race. Some of the other guys are fast, they are just really fast."

Cheever Racing's Christian Fittipaldi drove the No. 16 Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Pontiac Coyote to an eighth place qualifying position with a time of 1:06.463. Fittipaldi and teammate Antonio Garcia finished second last weekend at Montreal and are trying to carry that momentum forward to tomorrow's race.

"It was a decent run, nothing really special," Fittipaldi said. "I am not happy with the car. It is in no way like it was at Montreal. We made some progress today, but we are not as good as last week. We are pretty close right now and we have one more practice before the race to work it and we have a long race ahead of us tomorrow."

Nic Jonsson qualified the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola in 12th with a time of 1:06.699. Jonsson and teammate Ricardo Zonta managed to lead several laps in the six-hour race at The Glen in June.

"The car is not horrible," Jonsson said. "I haven't been around a lot cars out there so it is hard to compare our top speed. Setup wise we may have a few tenths or so improvement in the car. We took some downforce off of the car for qualifying and that helped our time. We are going to take some more off for the night practice and see how much more we can improve without sacrificing the corners too much."

Tracy Krohn was behind the wheel of the No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola and experienced brake problems in qualifying. With the brake problems, Krohn posted a time of 1:10.601. Krohn shares the seat with Eric van de Poele.

The debuting No. 4 AT&T Childress-Howard Motorsports Pontiac Crawford was qualified at the hands of three time Rolex Series champion Andy Lally. Lally drove to a time of 1:06.810 good for a 13th place starting position. Lally is teamed with sportscar legend Andy Wallace.

"I am happy to be here with the Childress-Howard guys," Lally said. "We had some teething problems in practice and I only did a handful of laps. I really only put together several laps in qualifying. We have a pretty good base line setup. We will use the practice tonight to fine tune to get some more speed out of the car for the race."

Jim Matthews qualified the No. 91 Riley-Matthews Pontiac Riley in 15th with a time of 1:07.244. Matthews will hand over to teammate Marc Goossens. The duo are anxious to return to their early season form that had them post a win at Mexico City along with two podium finishes.

"I had a pretty good run and then we had the interruption," Matthews said. "I might have had a few more tenths in the car, but I am satisfied with the way I qualified. We are pretty trimmed out to get all of the top speed we can. I have no complaints about the how the car is handling and how I qualified."

-credit: gm racing

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Andy Wallace , Ricardo Zonta , Alex Gurney , Antonio Garcia , Christian Fittipaldi , Jon Fogarty , Michael Valiante , Andy Lally , Max Angelelli , Jim Matthews , Tracy Krohn , Bob Stallings , Nic Jonsson
Teams Krohn Racing