Scott Pruett, driver of the No. 7 Motorock/Jaguar R Performance XKR, qualified on the pole with a time of 1:05:471 for tomorrow's Trans-Am Tour race...took the pole in the racing debut for the new Jaguar AJ-V8 four-valve, overhead-cam, fuel-injected engine...ninth pole this season...29th pole of his Trans-Am career...ranks second on the all-time pole winner's list, moving ahead of team owner and three-time Trans-Am champion Paul Gentilozzi.
NOTE 1-- BACKGROUND STATS...Clinched his third Trans-Am Drivers' Championship with his win in Miami...In 2003, has eight wins (St. Petersburg, Mosport, Infineon Raceway, Cleveland, Trois-Rivieres, Road America, Denver, and Miami) in ten starts...Started on the pole nine times...In August, raced in the Winston Cup event at Watkins Glen, scoring a career-best second place...In June, competed in the Winston Cup race at Infineon Raceway finishing 24th due to contact while running sixth...Two previous Trans-Am Drivers' Championships in 1987 and 1994...In 2002, did not compete in the Trans-Am Tour...Competed in Winston Cup Series in 2000... Competed several seasons in CART Champ Car Series, scoring two wins...Has two IMSA GTO Drivers' Championships (1986, 1988).
On winning the pole position... "It's been a challenge for us this weekend. Like any new program, there can be little gremlins that crop up. Yesterday, we had a hairline crack in the oil pan that was hand fabricated, so we changed the engine which meant we missed the afternoon practice session. In qualifying, we had our work cut out for us. We had a throttle linkage problem and it was sticking. The throttle stuck in Turn 9. I was glad to have the forethought to get my foot under the pedal to get it stopped. But the engine was just fine.
"I only had two flyer laps and we did better than I expected. My hat's off to the Rocketsports guys and Jaguar. This is very special for me to be able to give the Jaguar AJ-V8 its first pole, especially during its first appearance, and to do it here in Puerto Rico.
On the track..."The track has picked up grip and speed. We're 21/2 seconds quicker than our first session. It'll be a heck of a race. Any new track has no grip and a lot of grime the first day; that's typical. But here, the Puerto Rican race fans will get to see all the racing; that's not typical. They usually just get to see a small part of the track. Jorge has done a great job here. The racing is just part of a tremendous event with a lot of color and glitz. And the television broadcast will show that Puerto Rico is a great place to go. The people here are tremendous, not just at the track, but everywhere.
On his future... "This new engine is the future of the Trans-Am Tour. We have taken our first step into the future. To grow the series to be like the heydays, this is the direction we need to go. I applaud Jaguar for taking the first step. We've got a huge project in front of us. Unless you're involved, you can't appreciate all the hard work, dedication, sweat, and tears that go into this. Now we start the tedious part, all the little things to refine it. I enjoy that part. I'll continue with Rocketsports and Jaguar, as well as with Ganassi in Winston Cup. I'm like a bad penny -- I can show up anywhere.
Wally Castro, driver of the No. 3 Puerto Rico Lottery Jaguar XKR, qualified sixth with a time of 1:06:703 for tomorrow's Trans-Am Tour race.
NOTE 1 -- This is Castro's second career Trans-Am start...His previous start was in 1996 at St. Petersburg in 1996 where he qualified 10th and was running fifth when a broken axle relegated him to a 11th place finish.
NOTE 2 -- BACKGROUND STATS...In 2003, leads the Puerto Rico National Championship GTS class point standings with four wins and one second-place finish, with one race remaining...set pole position records at Salinas Speedway and Ponce Race Track.
On his qualifying effort... "The track is in beautiful shape now. The car was a bit loose and it was tough to put the power down. We've made more adjustments to the car and we're moving in the right direction. We'll make some shock adjustments before tomorrow's warm-up session.
"The tires worked well for me. I'm learning more about them each time out. I expect to be a top-five contender for the whole race tomorrow."