Sears Point: The Racer's Group Saturday report

TRG Qualifying for Grand Prix of Sonoma Sonoma, CA-- July 17, 2004 - The ...

TRG Qualifying for Grand Prix of Sonoma

Sonoma, CA-- July 17, 2004 - The #66 New Century Mortgage/Monster Cable Porsche 911 GT3 RSR qualified in 4th position for Sunday's Grand Prix of Sonoma, as Porsche works driver Patrick Long took advantage of a traffic-free qualifying field to lay down a nearly perfect lap. The American Le Mans Series today began a qualifying experiment, altering the format of the session to include groups of five cars, each of which has a total of two timed laps during which to qualify. The new format allows each car a true top-speed lap, as the sanctioning body allows cars out of the pit lane at timed intervals to ensure adequate spacing. TRG was an IMSA winner at the former Sears Point Raceway in 1995, when team owner Kevin Buckler made his first professional start and took his first win. The team will look for its first ALMS win at Infineon tomorrow.

Patrick Long said, "It was an okay qualifying lap, but not perfect in my opinion. In the end, we've qualified fourth, which is great considering the strength of this field. This morning, I laid down what I think was a perfect lap here, and it paid off with position 2 in the session. The team has done a great job of focusing on building us a car that's simultaneously quick and conservative on the tires, so I think we've got a car that's going to be solid for the duration of the race."

The #67 Flamingo Resort/TRG Porsche of Pierre Ehret and Jim Matthews developed a clutch problem in Saturday's second practice session that would necessitate the installation of a replacement unit, causing the duo to opt out of qualifying. The car will start the race from the back of the GT grid.

Jim Matthews said, "It's not great to miss the qualifying session, but I'm glad that we got the mechanical gremlins out of the way today rather than tomorrow. I think we've got a very well set-up car for the race tomorrow, and Pierre and I are excited to get out there. This is one of the tracks that he has the most experience at, so we'll draw on his local knowledge to get up the field."

Team owner Kevin Buckler was happy with the day's results. "The new qualifying format was really exciting to watch, and it helps us a bit as we're able to determine everyone's true pace. I'd say that it's less strategic for us now, because you just have to get out there and go for it -- with only one lap to warm up the car and the tires and two timed laps the drivers really have to get after it. It was exciting to sit and watch the session unfold. We're in a good position for the race tomorrow, and we've built two cars that can be consistent and strong for the duration of their stints."

TRG sponsors New Century Mortgage, Monster Cable and CDOC will contribute significantly to the attendance figures of Sunday's race, as all three companies bring in groups of guests to enjoy wine country and the exotic racecars of the ALMS. With headquarters near San Francisco, Monster Cable will dispatch a large contingent of local Monsters to cheer on the nos. 66 and 67 cars.

CBS will broadcast tomorrow's Grand Prix of Sonoma live at 3pm ET.


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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Kevin Buckler , Pierre Ehret , Patrick Long , Jim Matthews