Watkins Glen III: Friday qualifying report

Diaz Takes Second-Career Rolex Series Pole for Crown Royal 250 at The Glen WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (September 23, 2005) -- For the first time since Round 3 at California Speedway and just the second time in his Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series...

Diaz Takes Second-Career Rolex Series Pole for Crown Royal 250 at The Glen

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (September 23, 2005) -- For the first time since Round 3 at California Speedway and just the second time in his Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series career, Luis Diaz will start from the pole position in Saturday's Crown Royal 250 at The Glen (SPEED Channel, Live, 3:00 p.m. ET).

Driving the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley, Diaz logged a best lap of 1:44.836 (116.754 mph) to secure his spot on the inside of the front row. The Mexican and co-driver Scott Pruett--the defending Daytona Prototype co-champion--are looking to avenge a disappointing outing in the Racetickets.com 250 at Phoenix International Raceway two weeks ago, and Diaz is certainly off to a good start based on his qualifying performance.

"I have to give all the credit to the Ganassi guys," Diaz said. "They did a great job putting together this car, and I also have to thank Lexus. The Hoosier tires responded very well to the chassis changes. To be here on the pole with such a great driver like Jorg Bergmeister, I am very happy. I give all the credit to the team, Lexus and Hoosier."

Starting second will be Germany's Bergmeister, who is looking for his second consecutive Rolex Series victory in the No. 66 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley. Bergmeister posted a best lap at 1:45.080 (116.483 mph) in the car he will share with 2004 Daytona Prototype co-champion Max Papis. Bergmeister also started from the outside of the front row for the CompUSA 200 at The Glen in August, but a crash during the qualifying session tempered the performance. Bergmeister avoided those pitfalls in today's session.

"It definitely would be nice to add another win," Bergmeister said. "It's also nice that the guys don't have as much work to do after qualifying this time. I'm pretty happy with the results. We've made a lot of progress through the weekend. Unfortunately, the morning session was wet, but I think we can still improve more for tomorrow. I'm pretty optimistic we are going to have a good car for the race."

Cort Wagner made it two Chip Ganassi Racing cars in the top three positions with a lap at 1:45.352 (116.182 mph) in the No. 02 New Century Mortgage Lexus Riley. It was Wagner's best qualifying performance since taking second on the grid for the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway in July, and was the sixth top-four qualifying performance in 12 Rolex Series races for the No. 02 machine. Wagner shares the ride with Stefan Johansson.

"My fast lap was great, but the car had a push and I got bit on the exit of Turn 5 on the third lap," Wagner said. "After that, I got held up in traffic for the next three or four laps and the team was wondering when I would put a flyer down. I told them I would as soon as I got out of traffic and I backed it up. I wanted it to be an all-CGR front row with Luis on pole, but we'll take third today."

Starting a season-best fourth will be Burt Frisselle in the No. 8 Rx.com/Synergy Racing BMW Doran. Frisselle clocked a best lap at 1:45.600 (115.909 mph) at the same facility where he had a Rolex Series career-best result of second in the Sahlen's 200 at The Glen in August, 2004. He will share the No. 8 machine with his brother, Brian Frisselle, who led the first laps of his Rolex Series career in the CompUSA 200 at The Glen last month.

Matteo Bobbi filled out the top five on the starting grid with a lap at 1:46.159 (115.299 mph) aboard the No. 77 Crown Royal Special Reserve Ford Doran. It was the fourth top-five qualifying result in the past five races for the Doran Racing machine, which Bobbi shares with Italian countryman Fabrizio Gollin. The No. 77 duo is looking for its first-ever Rolex Series victory, and is also looking to bring the first victory home to the Doran team since Jan Magnussen and Didier Theys won the Sahlen's 200 at The Glen last year.

AUBERLEN TAKES GIANT STEP TOWARDS GLEN REVENGE WITH GT POLE

Powering the No. 21 F1 Air BMW M3 to a class-best 1:55.498 (105.976 mph) during the 15-minute qualifying session around Watkins Glen International, two-time Rolex Series GT champion Bill Auberlen will lead the GT field in Saturday's Crown Royal 250.

Auberlen, who has two victories and seven top-10 finishes in 11 races this season, is looking to atone for an 11th place GT finish in June's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen, the last time the Rolex Series took to the famed Glen long course. In August, Auberlen finished 19th in class in the CompUSA 200 at The Glen, but the cars used the short course.

"It was a good run," Auberlen said. "Let's just keep our fingers crossed that things will go our way now. (This crew) deserves to be up front, and I want to do well for them."

Auberlen, who has driven the No. 16, No. 21, and No. 22 machines for BMW Team PTG this season, scored GT wins in Round 3 at California Speedway -- a race he started from the pole - and Round 4 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Today was just Auberlen's third qualifying session of the season, as he also qualified sixth for the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.

"It has been a long time since I last qualified this car," said Auberlen, who is racing this weekend with Tom Milner. "I think the last time was Fontana. It was awesome there, and here we are now. I'm happy for my crew and my guys."

Behind Auberlen were the two TRG Pontiac GTO.Rs, as Paul Edwards qualified second in the No. 64 machine with a 1:55.809 (105.691 mph) and Marc Bunting took the third spot in the No. 65 car at 1:56.211 (105.326 mph). The brand-new GTO.Rs, which debuted at Daytona International Speedway, have been running near the top of the charts throughout the Crown Royal 250 weekend.

Edwards will share the No. 64 with Jan Magnussen for the fourth time this season, with the tandem seeking their third GT victory. The duo took the class win on the last trip to Watkins Glen in the CompUSA 200, and also won in the Phoenix GT 250 one race ago. Bunting will share the No. 65 with teammate Andy Lally, and that duo is looking for its second victory of the season. They claimed the GT class victory in the Grand Prix of Miami in March.

The No. 36 Porsche GT3 Cup will start fourth in the GT class after Randy Pobst turned in a best lap at 1:56.274 (105.269 mph). Pobst teams with Spencer Pumpelly this weekend in one of three TPC Racing entrants. Rounding out the top five is Ian James in the No. 22 BMW Team PTG M3 with a 1:56.478 (105.084 mph). James will share driving duties with Chris Gleason tomorrow afternoon.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Paul Edwards , Fabrizio Gollin , Stefan Johansson , Jan Magnussen , Didier Theys , Max Papis , Scott Pruett , Bill Auberlen , Luis Diaz , Ian James , Andy Lally , Matteo Bobbi , Burt Frisselle , Spencer Pumpelly , Marc Bunting , Chip Ganassi , Cort Wagner
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Krohn Racing , Doran Racing