ROOKIE KLAUS GRAF WINS FIRST TRANS-AM POLE AT PORTLAND PORTLAND, Ore. (June 17, 2005) -- Klaus Graf didn't let his lack of Trans-Am experience show Friday at Portland International Raceway as the rookie driver earned the pole for ...
ROOKIE KLAUS GRAF WINS FIRST TRANS-AM POLE AT PORTLAND
PORTLAND, Ore. (June 17, 2005) -- Klaus Graf didn't let his lack of Trans-Am experience show Friday at Portland International Raceway as the rookie driver earned the pole for Saturday's Rose City 100 in just his second Trans-Am start. In fact, the German national set a record 1.13.189-minute lap (96.605 miles per hour) in his AJ-V8-powered Jaguar R Performance XKR. Michael Lewis qualified second, ahead of Greg Pickett, Paul Gentilozzi and Randy Ruhlman.
The 12-minute qualifying session was shortened by an approximately four-minute red flag due to a shunt by Philip Simms (No. 24 Simms Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette) early in the session. Simms was unhurt in the incident.
Graf will start fifth Saturday due to Trans-Am's Fast Five® Qualifying format, which inverts the top five in each Trans-Am race, while Ruhlman (No. 49 Preformed Line Products Chevrolet Corvette) will roll off first.
"I've been in racing for a long time," said Graf, who earns two bonus points for the pole, as well as a $2,500 bonus from Jaguar for winning the Jaguar Pole Award. "It's just four wheels, an engine and a steering wheel. We had to push it hard, but we got it done in a short time. I'm happy with my first Trans-Am pole."
Lewis qualified second in the No. 12 Autocon Engineering Jaguar XKR with a 1:13.330-minute lap at 96.419 mph. Lewis earns one bonus point for the effort, and will start fourth due to the invert.
"I have to give all of the credit for this to my crew," said Lewis. "They hit the mark on the set-up today. We're a small operation and they really came through today. It's really hard when you only have two or three laps. Although, the short session will help the tires."
Pickett will start third tomorrow in the No. 6 Cytomax Jaguar XKR.
"Everybody was a little caught out by the shortened session," said the 1978 Trans-Am champion and 1984 Portland Trans-Am winner. "Actually, I had forgotten that the clock had kept ticking on the session while we were red flagged. We waited a little too long on pit road and I was the first guy to take the checkered flag. However, I am really looking forward to an interesting race."
Rudy Revak won the GTA pole, driving the No. 99 Symmetry Nutritional Ford Taurus.
"The GTA group is really enjoying its time with Trans-Am," said Revak. "The staff is so professional and do everything so well. We're really having a good time. Qualifying was great. We made some changes before we went out and it worked."
Final practice is scheduled for tomorrow at 9:15 a.m. The Rose City 100, Round 2 of the 2005 Trans-Am Championship and part of the G.I. Joe's Presents the Champ Car Grand Prix weekend, is scheduled for tomorrow at 4 p.m. Saturday's race will air on a tape-delayed basis, Sunday, June 26 at 1 p.m. EDT on SPEED Channel.