Road Atlanta: Acura qualifying report

MONTAGNY TAKES ANDRETTI GREEN ACURA TO FOURTH IN QUALIFYING FOR SATURDAY'S PETIT LE MANS BRASELTON, Ga. -- It was a dramatic Friday for Frenchman Franck Montagny and the Andretti Green Racing team. The recent Detroit ...


BRASELTON, Ga. -- It was a dramatic Friday for Frenchman Franck Montagny and the Andretti Green Racing team.

The recent Detroit Belle Isle winners looked to be in position to capture the pole position for the prestigious Petit Le Mans sports car race at Road Atlanta on Saturday. But Montagny was forced to avoid a spinning car in Friday morning practice and the driver of the No. 26 XM Satellite Radio AGR Acura ARX-01b prototype car ended his run in the wall. The XM Acura team was forced into a major repair mode and a variety of spares was assembled on the No. 26 car for the afternoon qualifying run.

But Montagny didn't disappoint by becoming the fastest Acura in time trials with a speed of 135.495 miles per hour, securing the fourth position on the LMP2 grid. Montagny fought a difficult steering car in the 25-minute qualifying session, but the 24 Hours of Le Mans veteran was pleased with his team's performance in tough conditions. The car had not turned a wheel since the morning incident.

Ryan Briscoe captured the LMP2 pole with a 136.353 m.p.h. lap in the Penske Porsche.

Another Frenchman, Simon Pagenaud in the No. 66 Panasonic ELS de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-01b, took the fifth qualifying spot in LMP2 with a speed of 135.154 m.p.h., followed by Adrian Fernandez in the No. 15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura ARX-01b at 134.736 m.p.h. and David Brabham in the No. 9 Acura Patron Highcroft ARX-01b prototype at 134.344 m.p.h.

The Patron Highcroft team also worked hard to repair a damaged race car after a Thursday morning accident involving driver Scott Sharp. The Acura sustained major damage and a new suspension was built from the ground up. The remarkable effort by the Danbury, Conn.-based team saw Brabham roll out his mount in time for the qualifying effort. Earlier in the week, the de Ferran team had to perform similar repairs after a practice crash by Indy 500 champion Scott Dixon. All four Acuras are ready for Saturday's event, set to begin at 11:15 a.m. EDT.

FRANK MONTAGNY (#26 XM Satellite Radio AGR Acura ARX-01b): "The XM AGR team did a great job getting the car back together after this morning's crash. The car was not as good as I would have liked it. We had a brake problem and the car didn't turn really well. But it is a good race car. We have to be patient in the race, and we know it is a long race. We have a very good driver lineup with Tony [Kanaan] and Marco [Andretti]. I thought we could qualify a little higher. But we had to repair many things. This team is very strong and I expect us to be very competitive on Saturday."

SIMON PAGENAUD (#66 Panasonic ELS Surround Acura ARX-01b): "The car was getting better and better with each lap. We made an adjustment in the middle of qualifying that helped us. We are just missing a little bit of pure speed right now. I know we have a good car for the race. We had a sorted race car and we have a very good driver lineup. We need to get into a rhythm in the race, so we can click off strong and consistent laps. I really want to go now. I am excited and anxious to drive this Acura in the Petit. It is going to be a wild race. We just have to keep our heads together and race hard and fast."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura ARX-01b): "I spun twice and I was just trying a little bit too hard. We know we have a good race car. We tried to make the car better for qualifying. It wasn't bad, just not fast enough for a Top Three position. Overall, I am pleased with our Lowe's Acura for the race. We know it is a very long race. While this isn't Sebring, you have to use a similar strategy to get to the end. That is our goal. You can't win if you don't finish."

DAVID BRABHAM (#9 Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01b): "This effort put in by the Patron Highcroft Racing team was unbelievable. It is was very big chore to repair the car overnight. I'm very proud of all of the guys. We knew we didn't have enough time to get a good qualifying setup. But the car was pretty good today. Now we'll have a couple of tweaks to improve it for the race."

-credit: acura

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Series ALMS
Drivers Franck Montagny , Adrian Fernandez , Scott Dixon , Ryan Briscoe , Simon Pagenaud