Brainerd: Series qualifying report

Ave Wins Sixth SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series Pole of 2010 Season at Brainerd BRAINERD, Minn. (September 4, 2010) -- SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series points leader Tony Ave, of Maiden, N.C., earned his sixth pole position of the season in ...

Ave Wins Sixth SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series Pole of 2010 Season at Brainerd

BRAINERD, Minn. (September 4, 2010) -- SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series points leader Tony Ave, of Maiden, N.C., earned his sixth pole position of the season in qualifying for Sunday's eighth round of the 10-race 2010 championship at Brainerd International Raceway.

Driving the No. 4 Lamers Racing/McMahon Group/Optech/PME Chevrolet Corvette, Ave lapped BIR's 2.5-mile circuit in 1:27.432 (102.937 mph) to take the top spot on the starting grid. It was the 12th time in Ave's Trans-Am career that he was the fastest qualifier, moving him into a tie for 10th on the series' all-time fast qualifiers list with Peter Gregg and Parnelli Jones. Ave will be looking for his fifth Trans-Am victory on Sunday.

"The last couple of races, we've just been practicing on old tires trying to work on our late-race setup," Ave said. "It's been a little bit of a surprise how fast we'll be able to go in qualifying, but we picked up a bunch and it was good. Tomy (Drissi) was really close, though, closer than the times look. His first lap was the same as my first lap. I think it's going to be a good race."

Ave will be joined on the front row in Sunday's race by 2009 Trans-Am champion Tomy Drissi, of Hollywood, Calif. After running the quickest time in practice earlier in the day, Drissi posted a best lap at 1:28.198 (102.043 mph) to take second in qualifying. He was looking for his second pole of the season and believes his chances of success were hampered by traffic in the early stages of qualifying. He was one of several who also pointed out that conserving tires will be critical in Sunday's 36-lap race at Brainerd.

"I came up on two people not at speed during qualifying," Drissi said. "That is just ridiculous. If you're qualifying, you're qualifying. If you don't want to go fast the first few laps, sit in the pits and wait for other people to get off the track. Ave got two clean laps and his second lap was the fastest lap. My first lap was faster than his first lap, so I think we could have had the pole here and that's just upsetting.

"We've still got a few laps on our tires. Whoever doesn't take care of their rear tires is not going to win this race. I don't care how good you are. If you don't take care of your rear tires, it's like a switch. Good job to the guys and we'll have a good race tomorrow. We're on the front row."

RJ Lopez, of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, took third on the starting grid on the strength of a lap at 1:28.523 (101.668 mph) in the No. 6 Disco 106/ECR Engines/Goodyear Chevrolet Corvette. Lopez also had an eventful qualifying session that ended a bit prematurely following an off-course excursion in Turn 8 on the 13-turn permanent road circuit.

"Qualifying went well," Lopez said. "We made some changes before qualifying that worked really well. Drissi was a little bit quicker than us, so we made a couple changes on pit lane and went out there to see if I could just catch Drissi. Ave was a bit ahead. I had to make some more adjustments in the car after we made that adjustment on pit lane because it was a little off. I guess I didn't like it as much.

"I was maybe trying to push a little too hard and going into Turn 8, I locked up a tire and went off. I was about eight inches from hitting the wall and that would have probably ended my weekend. Luckily, I was able to steer it into a tree. I guess if you've got to pick between a wall and a tree, a tree is the way to go. Now the boys have got some work to do tonight. I'll be there giving them a hand and we'll make it tomorrow, I believe."

Simon Gregg, of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., will start fourth in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette. Gregg turned in a best lap at 1:31.609 (98.243 mph) to put himself one spot ahead of his team owner, Jim Derhaag, of Shakopee, Minn.

Derhaag took fifth on the grid in the No. 40 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette at 1:32.436 (97.364 mph). He will make his 151st career Trans-Am start on Sunday, but it will be his first appearance behind the wheel in the series since a race in Minneapolis in 1997.

Sunday's race will take the green flag at 2:45 pm. CDT.

-source: scca pro racing

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