Long Beach: Qualifying notes

Kendall Marks Return to Trans-Am Competition at Long Beach with 40th pole LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 17, 2004) -- Tommy Kendall proved he hadn't lost much in the five years he's been away from Motorock Trans-Am Series competition by winning his...

Kendall Marks Return to Trans-Am Competition at Long Beach with 40th pole

LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 17, 2004) -- Tommy Kendall proved he hadn't lost much in the five years he's been away from Motorock Trans-Am Series competition by winning his 40th career pole Saturday for Sunday's race, part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Kendall, driving the No. 11 Jaguar R Performance XKR, recorded a 1:44.657-minute lap at 67.695 miles per hour around the 1.968-mile temporary street circuit in wet conditions.

Boris Said was second quickest in the No. 33 New Century Mortgage/GE Access/ACS Express Ford Mustang, ahead of 2003 Rookie of the Year Jorge Diaz, Jr. (1:46.736). Paul Gentilozzi (No. 3 Jaguar R Performance XKR) and Michael Lewis (No. 12 Autocon Engineering Jaguar XKR) completed the top five.

Kendall, who ended the session on BFGoodrich Tires' wet tire compound, recorded his quick time on the very last lap.

"This is better than I could have imagined," said Kendall, who earned his second pole at Long Beach, the fourth-straight pole for Jaguar here, and the second-straight pole for Jaguar's stock-block, overhead-cam, fuel-injected AJ-V8 engine. "I was very happy with the car yesterday, though we missed the gearing a little bit. Things really fell my way today. We put on the rain tires late in the session and we went back out.

"The secret to going fast in the wet is finding weird places for grip," added Kendall. "The line is where you can get grip. It's really about launching off the turn.

"My radio wasn't working, so I just went out and ran every lap," concluded Kendall. "I didn't know what happened until I came in and everyone was giving me the thumbs up."

Said earned his second-straight Long Beach pole. Interestingly, Said won from the outside pole here last year.

"Street circuits are really slippery in the rain, so we just did a few laps, recorded a pretty good time and parked it," said Said. "We had a really good car in the dry, so hopefully tomorrow we'll have some of that typical sunny California weather and we'll put on good show for the fans. I'm really looking forward to going up against Tommy."

Diaz equaled his best career qualifying effort, set last year at Denver. Diaz ran his first two laps on slicks before switching to rain tires.

"It was fun to drive," said Diaz. "I'm proud to be here next to Tommy and Boris. There are no better drivers in this Series. I know it's going to be tough tomorrow, but we're looking forward to it."

The qualifying session was shortened to 30 minutes due to inclement weather. Instead of the usual two-group format, all cars qualified in one group. Wet tires were declared optional for the session. Teams were therefore allowed to use either wet-compound or slick tires.

The times turned in by John Baucom (No. 86 MAP Quality Engineering Ford Mustang) and Greg Pickett (No. 6 Cytosport Jaguar XKR) were disqualified due to post-qualifying technical inspection. Both were cited for violating Rule 9.11 "Ground Clearance." They will start at the back of the grid.

Final practice for the Motorock Trans-Am Series is scheduled today from 3:45 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. The Trans-Am race is scheduled to take place tomorrow, immediately following the Champ Car World Series event.

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Series Trans-Am
Drivers Boris Said , Paul Gentilozzi , Greg Pickett , Michael Lewis , John Baucom , Tommy Kendall