Trois-Rivieres 'rookie' Scott Pruett earns 26th pole

TROIS- RIVIÈRES, Quebec -- Scott Pruett didn't let lack of experience or even gearbox troubles get in the way of him earning his sixth pole this season, and 26th of his career, during Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup qualifying Friday...

TROIS- RIVIÈRES, Quebec -- Scott Pruett didn't let lack of experience or even gearbox troubles get in the way of him earning his sixth pole this season, and 26th of his career, during Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup qualifying Friday at Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières. Pruett, who has made just one Trans-Am Series start here prior to this weekend, earned the pole with a 1:03.890-minute lap at 85.687 miles per hour. The pole was also Jaguar's first pole here.

For his efforts, Pruett, driver of the No. 7 Jaguar R Performance XKR, won the Jaguar Pole Award, a performance-based initiative that rewards drivers who earn the pole at each of the Trans-Am Series' events this season. Polesitters will receive a key--regardless of what type of car they race--which, at the culmination of the season, they will use to attempt to open the door to a 2004 Jaguar XK8, during a formal ceremony. The driver whose key opens the vehicle will win a one-year lease on the car.

Johnny Miller (No. 64 Eaton Cutler-Hammer Jaguar XKR) qualified second, ahead of French Canadian driver Claude Bourbonnais, driving the No. 3 Rocketsports Jaguar XKR. Michael Lewis (No. 12 Westward Tools/The Crank Jaguar XKR) and Bobby Sak (No. 10 Revolution Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette) completed the top five.

"Actually, I'm glad we just made it out," said Pruett, driver of the. "I really have to thank my guys because they had to change a transmission right before the session. We put a couple of good laps together. It was good enough for the pole. We're going to go back and work on it a little more.

"I think this is going to my toughest race," added Pruett, who only went out briefly during the session, and set his fast time on his third lap. "You really have to conserve the car here--the tires and the brakes. You really have to plan ahead to win the race Unfortunately, I've only raced here once, and it wasn't a really good race. I started second, but finished 10th after contact with another car. So that wasn't my best race. I guess we'll just have to see what happens tomorrow."

Miller said his team may have found what it needed to get to the front.

"We did four or five quick laps, laid off, did four or five quick laps, and then laid off," said Miller. "We've been fighting the car all day. It's been kind of ugly since this morning. We were able to dial around on the sway bars during the session to get a good lap out of it. We ran about 11 minutes and then we stopped."

Bourbonnais, meanwhile, was saving his tires for the race. Trans-Am Series rules stipulate drivers must compete on at least three of the four tires they use for qualifying.

"Our plan was to go out there and conserve the tires," said Bourbonnais, who will make his first Trans-Am Series start this weekend. "That means five or six hot laps and then conserve the car. We could have gone a little bit faster, but that would have meant hurting our ability to be competitive at the end of the race. So we qualified and parked it. Scott and Johnny are going for the championship, so I'm going to follow them around a little bit tomorrow and we'll see what happens."

The Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières, Round 7 of the 2003 Trans-Am Series championship is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 2. The race will air LIVE on SPEED Channel.

Notebook:

* Trans-Am Series drivers Michael Lewis and Tomy Drissi are keeping a busy schedule this weekend at Trois-Rivières. Lewis and Drissi, who drive the No. 12 Westward Tools/The Crank Jaguar XKR and No. 5 Stuck on You, The Movie Jaguar XKR, respectively, in the Trans-Am Series, are also teaming up to compete in the American Le Mans Series race on Sunday. The pair will co-drive the No. 12 Riley & Scott Mk III C Lincoln in the ALMS' LMP 900 class for faster, heavier prototype sports cars in Sunday's event.

* Drissi's Jaguar suffered a suspension failure during second-round qualifying Friday. The damage required major repairs, so Drissi's team elected to sit out qualifying. Drissi, who had been turning times in the top-five all day, will start Saturday's race in the 15th and final qualifying position. "I tagged the wall in the previous practice session," said Drissi. "I had good times early and would have had it pretty easy to be in the top three in qualifying today. I was trying for a faster lap in that last session. I just didn't anticipate coming up on a flyer (fast lap) and the car didn't push like it normally does. I just grabbed the wall a little bit with my tire turning into the last corner before the front straight. "The guys didn't want to put me back out there; they saw a little weld (break) where the suspension hooks up the frame," added Drissi. "So, we'll attend to it and see how the car is working the in the final practice session (tomorrow). We'll start in the back of the pack, be patient, and put this on the podium tomorrow."

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About this article
Series Trans-Am
Drivers Scott Pruett , Tomy Drissi , Johnny Miller , Michael Lewis , Bobby Sak , Claude Bourbonnais