Ricardo Zonta scored his first Grand-Am Rolex Series pole today on the Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah with a time of 2:35.664 ( 103.747 mph) in the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola in the Daytona Prototype he shares with Nic...
Ricardo Zonta scored his first Grand-Am Rolex Series pole today on the Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah with a time of 2:35.664 ( 103.747 mph) in the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola in the Daytona Prototype he shares with Nic Jonsson.
"I'm very happy to get the pole, especially because it's the last race of the year. With all the good results and bad situations of this whole season, I think this pole position is the result of all the hard work from the team," said Zonta.
The Brazilian driver was able to best the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley by 0.155 seconds on the slippery track due to light rain in the area. The 4.486-mile road course sits in the wide-open desert area near mountain ranges which can cause very windy conditions but today, the racers mainly had to deal with the a light drizzle with drying conditions.
"When I think about the Krohn team I feel like a family," Zonta said. "I feel very close with the engineers, David Brown, Tracy, everybody. It's a very nice relationship. To be on the pole -- I look at it one way as being very positive for us. Everyone has worked so hard -- the whole team and all season."
Zonta's pole was the first one for Krohn Racing since April 2007 and came at a time when the team needed a boast. Team owner Tracy Krohn lives in Houston, Texas where Hurricane Ike did damage to the area. Having the pole was a plus for Tracy who owns W&T Offshore/WTI, an oil and gas production company. Having suffered loses in Hurricane Katrina and now taking a second major hit, his racing team handed him a reason to smile.
"It was really one for the good guys today," smiled Krohn, "I was dubious about even being able to get here this week because of all the stuff surrounding the hurricanes. But, like they've done in the past, everybody [W&T and Krohn Racing] gathered it up and we're back to work.
"To come out here and have Ricardo put it on the pole is fantastic. We've been knocking on the pole for several races and it was about time. It was really gratifying," added Tracy. "He did a superlative job."
Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas are in the cat-seat for the drivers' championship. They each to run 30 minutes in the CGR Lexus Riley to take the DP crown. Pruett had the top spot in qualifying until Zonta turned his flying lap to push Pruett and company to second on the grid. With a time of 2:35.819 (103.643 mph), the No. 01 will slot on the front row.
"We made some improvements on the car from our test day yesterday and we really just focused on fine tuning the car for the race tomorrow. We were sitting P-1 until the No.76 bumped us out on the last lap," Pruett said. "We're starting on the front row, it will be a long race and I'm looking forward to closing up the championship here."
David Donohue just missed the front row by 0.004 seconds withy a time of 2:35.823 (103.641 mph). The Brumos Racing Porsche Riley starts third with Donohue and team driver Darren Law joined by Buddy Rice for the season finale's endurance race.
While the Daytona Prototypes dealt with a light rain, the GT drivers had rain throughout most of their qualifying on-track time. Farnbacher Loles Racing's Leh Keen landed his first series pole today also. Driving the No. 86 Porsche GT3 Cup to a fast lap of 2:52.252 (93.756 mph), he slam down a fast lap as the rain let up in the final minutes to knock his own teammate off the pole.
Keen and teammate Eric Lux have Dominik Farnbacher with them this weekend. "It was raining and it was a mess and everybody was going slow. Then right at the end, it started drying up and Frank [Resciniti, team manager and strategist] got on the radio and said, 'It's last lap!'
"There was a dry line forming everywhere except where it had been raining really bad, but I figured since a lap is so long here, by the time I did a whole lap, it would probably be dry. So I braked 100 feet later in turn one and just kinda crossed my fingers and went for it," said Keen. "It turned out awesome, being the last car. The strategy was great!"
With a time of 2:52.724 (93.499 mph), Wolf Henzler saw his pole fade away by 0.472 seconds. Still he, Bryce Miller and Dirk Werner are looking for the lion's share in their Farnbacher Loles No. 87 Porsche.
"It all came down to the last lap," Henzler said. "I set the car on pole but [then] Leh Keen went on pole and I finished second, so it's a good result for the team. For sure, it will be less trouble in turn one at the start of the race."
Porsche ended with three of their GT3 Cup cars on the GT qualifying podium with Spencer Pumpelly turning a lap of 2:55.203 (92.177 mph). The three drivers, Pumpelly, Ted Ballou and Bryan Sellers) in the No. 66 TRG look forward to Saturday's race which has a time limit of seven hours.
After a final morning practice, the final Rolex series 2008 race will take the green flag 11:00am (MDT) tomorrow, September 20.