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Sebring: GT qualifying report

Crescentini Scores First World Challenge GT Pole In Sebring SEBRING, Fla. (March 19, 2009) -- Dino Crescentini, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., earned his first-career SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship pole position Thursday and...

Crescentini Scores First World Challenge GT Pole In Sebring

SEBRING, Fla. (March 19, 2009) -- Dino Crescentini, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., earned his first-career SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship pole position Thursday and will start first in Friday's Toyo Tires Season Opener at Sebring International Raceway, part of the 57th Annual Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh From Florida. Eric Curran, of East Hampton, Mass., will start second.

Driving the No. 4 Stoptech/GMG Porsche 911 GT3, Crescentini turned a fast time of 2:10.228 (102.282 mph) around the 17-turn, 3.7-mile circuit on his first flying lap. After that, he brought the car in and parked it, opting to save his tires for the race while others continued to try to beat his time.

"We were feeling pretty good," Crescentini said about entering the 20-minute qualifying session. "This year has been a whole different ballgame for me. Steve Ruiz, one of my best friends for 30 years and a brilliant engineer, joined the team and that helps the situation out. The big difference is that this year, I feel completely confident in the car. I feel like I can go out and go quick. We've achieved the comfort and we're actually going to be getting better.

"I hope I can get away at the start and lead the whole race."

His goal won't be attained easily, as 2007 Sebring winner Curran will line up alongside in his No. 30 Whelen Engineering Chevrolet Corvette. Curran turned a 2:10.414 (102.136 mph) on his second lap before hitting the pit lane.

Series newcomer Tony Rivera, of Missouri City, Texas, will start third in his No. 97 Tax Masters/Mirage Group Porsche 911 GT3. Rivera ran six laps, turning his best time of 2:10.450 (102.108 mph) on his fourth lap.

James Sofronas, of Huntington Beach, Calif., will line his No. 14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3 up fourth after turning a 2:10.561 (102.021 mph) on his fourth, and final lap. Brandon Davis, of Huntington Beach, Calif., completed the top five in qualifying, turning a 2:10.599 (101.991 mph) on his fifth, and final, lap in the No. 10 Applied Computer Soluitions/Sun Microsystems Ford Mustang Cobra.

While Crescentini was the fastest qualifier, his starting position was not solidified until the newly-implemented coin toss was complete following the session. Crescentini called heads as SCCA Pro Racing President Bob Wildberger flipped the coin in the air. It landed heads up, so Crescentini maintained his first place starting position. Had the coin come up tails, the top five would have inverted, with Davis starting first, and Crescentini fifth.

"It was my first pole ever in World Challenge in five years, so the coin toss made me nervous," a visibly-relived Crescentini said. "We knew we had a good car that could get the job done, but this coin toss...maybe we need to change this! Obviously, it adds to the excitement, but I'm glad it turned out the way it did."

While it was Crescentini's first pole position, he does have a win to his credit, taking the World Challenge GT race win at Portland in 2005.

Jason Daskalos (Dodge Viper), Brian Kubinski (Chevrolet Corvette), Tim McKenzie (Porsche 911 GT3), Ritch Marziale (Dodge Viper) and Sonny Whelen (Chevrolet Corvette) completed the top 10.

Absent from the grid Friday will be two-time defending series Champion Randy Pobst. After a week of teething issues, K-PAX Racing has withdrawn the No. 1 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60. The team has yet to decide if Andy Pilgrim, who only turned one qualifying lap, will start the race.

Friday's Toyo Tires Season Opener of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship will make its standing start at 4:55 p.m. (EDT).

-credit: scca pro racing

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Series PWC
Drivers Randy Pobst , Eric Curran , Tony Rivera , Brian Kubinski , James Sofronas , Dino Crescentini , Brandon Davis , Sonny Whelen , Jason Daskalos , Ritch Marziale