Portland: Series qualifying report

Drissi Captures Second-Career PIR Trans-Am Pole PORTLAND, Ore. (June 13, 2009) -- Tomy Drissi, of Los Angeles, parlayed his fast practice times into a record-setting pole-winning time of 1:11.178 (99.485 mph) in qualifying for Sunday's Fluge ...

Drissi Captures Second-Career PIR Trans-Am Pole

PORTLAND, Ore. (June 13, 2009) -- Tomy Drissi, of Los Angeles, parlayed his fast practice times into a record-setting pole-winning time of 1:11.178 (99.485 mph) in qualifying for Sunday's Fluge Global Adventures Rose Cup Classic, Round Five of the Muscle Milk SCCA Trans-Am Series at Portland International Raceway. Former PIR race-winner Greg Pickett, of Benicia, Calif., will start alongside Drissi.

After turning a time nearly 2.5 seconds faster than the existing Trans-Am qualifying record during this morning's practice, Drissi was poised to win his second-career PIR pole this afternoon. And, he did just that shattering Klaus Graf's previous record (1:13.189, 96.752 mph) by more than two seconds.

Driving the No. 5 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Jaguar XKR, Drissi was fortunate to have set his fast time just five laps into the 20-minute qualifying session because one lap later he, Pickett and Simon Gregg, of Ponte Verda Beach, Fla., found themselves off course at Turn 11. Their off-track excursion was due to some oil that was laid down by Dan Ramoutarsingh's No. 8 TRINRICO Steel & Wire Products Jaguar XKR. At that point, qualifying was halted to clean up the oil.

After a lengthy cleanup, there were 10 minutes left in the session. Many of the competitors were content with their qualifying times because there were only a couple drivers who resumed qualifying.

"Unfortunately, the first couple of laps I got nervous," Drissi said of qualifying. "I thought I'd given myself enough room to make a hole. But, with people coming in and out [of the pits], I caught people. So, I had to back off again. You never know what can happen, so you want to go out as fast as you can and get it done.

"We got one good lap in and, from what I thought I heard on the radio, we were P1. In the middle of that next flier, I heard that we were P2, but I did not get the time when I went by on that lap. So, I did one more than after that because I thought we were still P2. I tried to go a little bit faster and that was the lap that locked us into P1.

"But, I still wasn't sure what these guys had and there were 10 minutes left in the session. So, I went for one more flier. I was going down the back straight at 170 miles per hour and I see Pickett off in the weeds. At that moment, I thought wow Pickett is off. By the time I thought that, I was off where he was. There was some oil. Someone lost a motor. It was a scary ride, but everyone was okay. Pickett and I landed right next to each other. We knew there was some time left in qualifying. We hustled to get our cars started up again. We got into pit lane side-by-side. When we got in, I realized we did a low 11. It was maybe half a second faster than [Pickett]. So, we waited to see what happened. I know [Tony] Ave went out again, but it looked like the track wasn't ready to go yet. So, he came back in. We saw the checkered flag come out and we were P1."

Pickett, the 1978 Trans-Am series Champion, qualified second in his No. 6 Muscle Milk Jaguar XKR with a 1:11.768 (98.668 mph). Pickett is the only driver in the field who has won at PIR. With that in mind, he is gunning for his second-career PIR win, which would also be his second win of the season.

Portland resident Todd Harris will roll off the grid third in his No. 24 Muscle Milk Jaguar XKR after turning a time of 1:12.676 (97.435 mph). The Trans-Am rookie hopes to show his hometown fans what Trans-Am racing is all about by notching his first-career win.

Tony Ave, of Maiden, N.C., will start fourth in the No. 10 McMahon Group/Stumpf Ford/Pro Motor Ford Mustang. He turned a time of 1:12.791 (97.281 mph). Ave has only one Trans-Am start at PIR, which came in 1995. That year, he also qualified fourth, but finished eighth. In 36 career Trans-Am starts, Ave is still looking for his first win -- which could come this weekend.

Gregg, who is a Trans-Am series veteran with 74 career starts to his credit, will start Sunday's race fifth on the grid after turning a time of 1:14.467 (95.091 mph). This is Gregg's best-ever starting position in Trans-Am. His previous best qualifying position was sixth, which he set two weeks ago at Mid-Ohio. He will pilot the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette.

Nick Fluge, of Portland, Ore., Ramoutarsingh, of LaRomain, Trinidad, Rob Holden, of Woodinville, Wash., Elmer Shannon, of San Francisco, and Jerry Kinn, of Anchorage, Alaska, will start sixth through 10th, respectively.

The Round Five green flag is set to drop at 2:55 p.m. (PDT), Sunday, June 14. For the latest Trans-Am news and results, as well as live timing and scoring, visit www.sccatrans-am.com.

-credit: scca pro racing

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