All-Pontiac Front Row For Crown Royal 200 At The Glen Alex Gurney Puts No. 99 GANISCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley on Pole; Ryan Briscoe in No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley Second-Fastest in Daytona Prototype Qualifying at The Glen WATKINS...
All-Pontiac Front Row For Crown Royal 200 At The Glen
Alex Gurney Puts No. 99 GANISCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley on Pole; Ryan Briscoe in No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley Second-Fastest in Daytona Prototype Qualifying at The Glen
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. - Pontiac's Daytona Prototype (DP) effort in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Reserve is now at full strength - after yesterday's DP qualifying session at Watkins Glen International (the race is a DP-only event), Pontiac-powered race cars occupy the front row for tonight's 200-mile sprint race. Alex Gurney put his No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley on the pole position with a time of 1:7.496 while Ryan Briscoe in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley took the second spot on the grid at 1:07.580. While an all-Pontiac DP front row is not a new occurrence in the Rolex Series, this is the first time this season that Pontiacs have taken 1-2 in qualifying.
"The car was working very well throughout the run; it just felt good;" said Gurney. "We've been trying extremely hard to win a race for GAINSCO and Jon and I have been working well together. We're pushing each other hard and that's raised our level quite a bit. The series has gone several notches higher from last year and now we're stretching ourselves for every tenth.
"Pontiac's working hard with the power and we've honed in on the balance of the car," Gurney continued. "You have to balance how quick you want to go through the corners with how much you want to trim out for straight-line speed - it's a real fine line and we think we nailed it. Perhaps slightly more on the risky, trimmed-out straight-line speed side."
Gurney was the fastest among 26 competitors and he also set a track record - his time beat previous record holder Fabrizio Gollin's fastest lap of 1:08.409, set last year. Gurney and co-driver Jon Fogarty are also on a roll with four-straight top five finishes and placings in the top eight in the last six races.
Ryan Briscoe (he replaces Wayne Taylor in this weekend's shorter race) drove with Taylor and full-time co-driver Max Angelelli in the previous race at The Glen in June. Briscoe was an integral part of the team's third-place finish and is now back to help the SunTrust team fight for a team championship and a drivers championship for Angelelli. His qualifying performance yesterday puts SunTrust in a strong position to advance on Jorg Bergmeister's and Krohn Racing's leads; with only three DP races left, it will be crucial for the team to perform well to score second-straight team and drivers championships.
"Ryan did a really, really good job. He hasn't spent as much time as we have in these cars, but he got in and did an outstanding job," said Taylor. "The cars we're racing in the championship, the 76 and the 01, they're behind us and that's really what we needed to achieve. Hopefully we can keep it that way tomorrow, because that's really the only time it matters."
"It's great to be back here with the SunTrust Racing Team," added Briscoe. "I love Watkins Glen. I've run plenty of laps here and I love everything about it. It's a shame we weren't able to get the pole, but it's good to be on the front row. We're here to try to win and get Max his championship."
Team and driver championships aren't the only ones at stake - for the first time this season, Pontiac has taken a narrow lead in the DP manufacturers championship and leads Ford by two points and Lexus by four. A third-straight DP manufacturers championship is Pontiac's goal and with GT racing resuming at Infineon Raceway on August 26, the brand hopes to also lengthen its GT lead with a strong performance by its three GTO.Rs.
-credit: gm racing