Middlebrooks Takes Mustang Challenge Pole at Homestead Homestead, FL-- (13 March 2009) -- Joe Lee Middlebrooks added a new line to his racing resume on Friday, scoring the first Ford Racing Mustang Challenge pole of his career with a fast lap...
Middlebrooks Takes Mustang Challenge Pole at Homestead
Homestead, FL-- (13 March 2009) -- Joe Lee Middlebrooks added a new line to his racing resume on Friday, scoring the first Ford Racing Mustang Challenge pole of his career with a fast lap time of 1:38.369-seconds on the 2.21-mile road course at Homestead Miami Speedway. 2008 Mustang Challenge Champion Andrew Caddell was just .084 seconds behind with his fastest lap to lock up the front row starting position. The duo will be closely chased by Steve Phillips, who also took his Mustang Challenge career-best qualifying result with a run to third on the grid as fellow returning Mustang Challenge drivers Dan Aweida and D Rick Edwards rounded out the top five.
The fifteen-minute qualifying session was a fast and furious one, with five different drivers holding the top time during the session before Middlebrooks took control and held on to it to the checkered flag.
"This feels great!" enthused Middlebrooks, who hails from Hoover, Alabama. "The Hypersport guys did a great job. I just did what they told me to do and got one good lap in there. I think that taking the pressure off of myself has been a big help. I'm doing this for fun, and remembering that helps me keep from making mistakes out there and it's great that it pays off like this with a pole! I can't tell you how good this feels. This field is so close, and to come out on top like this is just fantastic."
Defending Champion Caddell is making his first race start with Kauffmann Racing in the HotRod-liveried Mustang, but the Graham, Washington, native was in a familiar place as he took another spot on the front row for Saturday's 45-minute sprint event.
"It was a good session--I have to congratulate Joe Lee on getting his first pole," said Caddell. "He put the perfect lap together. I think I ran out of talent in some of the slower corners and that cost me some time, but we have a really consistent car so we'll just see what happens in the race. I think it's going to be a great race with how close this field is. There are only a couple places to pass, so hopefully we can just get a clean start and have the consistency pay off for us."
Running one of the most distinctive-looking FR500S machines in the paddock, Phillips was happy to be back racing again as he put some of his off-season practice to good use to open up the Mustang Challenge season.
"I love it!" said Phillips of notching the best Mustang Challenge qualifying result of his career. "I came down here and ran an MX-5 to learn the track a little bit and that helped out a lot today. I'm really excited. It's great that (Miller Performance Center lead instructor) Dan McKeever is here, because that's where this all started for me, going to the Miller school out in Utah. Hopefully we can be this strong once the race starts."
Round 1 of the 2009 Ford Racing Mustang Challenge season will start at 12:30 PM on Saturday, with round 2 slated for a 12:15 PM start time on Sunday.