Lime Rock: Saturday qualifying report

Hayner captures first career Trans-Am pole position in thrilling fashion at Lime Rock. LIME ROCK, Conn. (May 25, 2002) -- Stuart Hayner, the final car on the race track, put together a spectacular lap just moments before the checkered flag to ...

Hayner captures first career Trans-Am pole position in thrilling fashion at Lime Rock.

LIME ROCK, Conn. (May 25, 2002) -- Stuart Hayner, the final car on the race track, put together a spectacular lap just moments before the checkered flag to capture his first career Trans-Am Series pole position for Monday's Mohegan Sun Presents the Lime Rock Park Grand Prix (3 p.m. ET, live, SPEED Channel).

Hayner (#02 Trenton Forging/Tom Bell Chevrolet/Rockland STD Gear Chevrolet Corvette) took advantage of clear asphalt to post a lap of 52.271 seconds (105.374 miles per hour) on the 1.53-mile permanent road course and take the pole position for Monday's 66-lap, 100.98-mile, third round of the 2002 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires championship.

Hayner had lost the provisional pole just moments earlier to Butch Leitzinger, whose lap of 52.576 seconds (104.576 mph) had apparently captured the primary starting spot. Leitzinger (#88 Tommy Bahama Chevrolet Corvette) had gradually improved his speed throughout the 20-minute qualifying session before recording his best lap with under a minute to go.

That's when Hayner responded to the challenge.

"I can honestly say I don't think I've ever been as depressed as I was when I left the race track [Friday] night," said Hayner, who earned two championship points and the Jaguar Pole Award for his performance. "We had struggled all day, and you start to question yourself. But the crew made wholesale changes, and the car just got better and better."

Hayner gave credit to Leitzinger, who had already taken the checkered flag, for a big assist on his pole-winning lap.

"I take my hat off to Butch," Hayner said. "On my flyer lap, he saw me coming up behind him and he did the gentlemanly thing. He moved over and gave me room. It sure was fun."

Leitzinger paid tribute to Hayner's outstanding lap, the fastest of four Trans-Am on-track sessions thus far this weekend.

"For a couple of seconds [after qualifying], I was pretty angry," he said. "I thought I had the pole, and then my crew told me on the cool-down lap that Stu had beaten my time. But when I found out he had beaten it by three-10ths of a second, I didn't feel so bad. That was a great lap by Stu."

Leitzinger, a Trans-Am Series rookie, has qualified among the top three drivers for all three 2002 events to date, including a pole position in track record time last weekend at Mosport (Ontario) International Raceway. Leitzinger has won seven professional races at Lime Rock, in IMSA, NASCAR and GARRA-sanctioned events.

Trans-Am Series championship leader Boris Said (#33 Applied Computer Solutions Panoz Esperante) qualified third at 52.678 seconds (104.560 mph). Like Leitzinger, he makes his third top-three start of the season, following outside poles at Long Beach and Mosport.

With the point Said earned for his top-three qualifying performance Saturday, he now holds a 63-54 lead over Johnny Miller (#64 AutomationDirect/Eaton/Cutler Hammer Jaguar XKR) in the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup championship. Said took over the points lead with a victory at Mosport last weekend.

Rounding out the top five qualifiers were three-time and defending Trans-Am Series champion Paul Gentilozzi (#3 Johnson Controls/Microchip/MatrixOne/Futaba Jaguar XKR), who was fourth at 52.764 seconds (104.389 mph) and Tony Ave (#53 Trilithic Panoz Esperante), who will start fifth after a lap of 52.816 seconds (104.287 mph).

Miller was sixth at 52.924 seconds (104.074 mph), followed by Justin Bell, who arrived at the track just moments before the start of qualifying after being delayed in Canada awaiting the renewal of a travel visa. Despite having no practice time, Bell qualified a creditable seventh at 53.134 seconds (103.662 mph).

-scca pro racing-

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Series Trans-Am
Drivers Boris Said , Tony Ave , Paul Gentilozzi , Johnny Miller , Stuart Hayner