Elkhart Lake, Wisc., (Aug. 9, 2013) - The twists and turns of one of North America's most historic and significant road courses welcomed the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama today as series veterans and aspiring professionals alike tackled the 4.048-mile, 14-turn road course in qualifications.
Teams and drivers fine-tuned their setup and lap times to push their 911 Porsche GT3 Cup cars to the limit in order to to set their positions for Rounds 9 and 10 on the series schedule, which will take place on August 10 and 11 in conjunction with the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series/American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón doubleheader.
Snow Racing/Wright Motorsports star Madison Snow chased perfection and walked away as the top contender in today's 30-minute qualifying session, capturing the BBS Pole Award with a time of 2:12.643.
"I felt like the track was perfect," Snow said. "The car was perfect and there was nothing to complain about. I went out and did two fast laps. The first lap I was trying to do everything I could, but it was only an 'OK' lap because my tire temperatures were not up yet. The second lap I got my fast lap in. I came in after because there was traffic ahead, thinking I would go back out to see if I could beat my fastest lap later, but my dad told me that I was already on pole for both races. So we sat and waited it out."
Sloan Urry in his Effort Racing entry pushed his No. 20, 911 GT3 Cup entry as hard as he could, but ultimately didn't have enough for Snow, and settled for second.
"Qualifying went great," Urry said. "Effort put together a really good car for me but we obviously wanted more to be at pole position, but unfortunately we didn't have enough. Madison (Snow) put together an awesome lap and you've got to hand it to him. I am happy with front row and I think we have front row for both races, so I am happy that we are in a position to challenge for the win and the race. That's obviously the goal. Always be number one. We were not quite there in qualifying but we will try to strive for it in the race."
Tied with Snow in the Championship points overall with 114 total is NGT Motorsport's Angel Benitez Jr., who took the race win in the first round of Gold Cup competition at Road America last year. Benitez was challenged by setup issues and will settle for third position on the starting grid for tomorrow's race feature.
"Qualifying was not what we wanted," Benitez Jr. said. "But we are still figuring out the right setup for the race. I think we have a good car for the race and long-term, but we didn't have the right car to do three hot laps and put it on pole. So we are all working together to improve it for the first race. But we are happy to be here and we are still positioned up front, but we always come here to win. So tomorrow will be a hard fight to catch up to the leaders."
Stepping up in the Platinum Master's Championship, Wright Motorsports pilot Kasey Kuhlman performed his best and will be the highest starting Masters position for Round 9 of series competition.
"Qualifying was a really good result for me today," said Series veteran Kuhlman. "It hasn't been my strength all year, so I was really focused and I feel really good about my lap. A 2:14.2 is the fastest I have ever gone around here. I am really excited with a P6 overall and I was able to best (Craig) Duerson on the charts in Masters, so that's good too!"
IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama competitors will roll off the grid for Race 9 on Saturday, August 9 at 8:40 a.m. CT for the first of two 45-minute sprints. The second race feature of the weekend will take the green flag on Sunday, August 10 at 11 a.m. CT.