Birmingham: Qualifying report

Gurney Leads Front-Row Sweep of Second-Generation Racers in Qualifying for Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 30, 2005) -- In qualifying for just his third Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series race, Alex Gurney ...

Gurney Leads Front-Row Sweep of Second-Generation Racers in Qualifying for Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 30, 2005) -- In qualifying for just his third Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series race, Alex Gurney placed his No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley on the pole position for Sunday's Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant at Barber Motorsports Park (SPEED Channel, Live, 1 p.m. ET).

In an abbreviated qualifying session that saw several different leaders, Gurney--the son of racing legend Dan Gurney--posted a best lap of 1:22.266 (100.649 mph) in the No. 99 machine slightly before Matteo Bobbi spun and made contact with the pit wall while attempting to put together his own pole-worthy lap in the No. 77 Crown Royal Special Reserve Ford Doran for Doran Racing. Gurney will share the No. 99 Daytona Prototype with co-driver and car owner Bob Stallings in the Porsche 250.

"The car was very good," Gurney said. "It was my first chance to qualify and I knew it was a big opportunity. Everything just clicked. Following (No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley driver Luis) Diaz was perfect because he was just enough slower to be a carrot for me. We knew it was important to get a good lap early because rain was threatening. There's still a lot for us to learn but I think the whole team is doing a stellar job for us to be this quick right away."

Gurney is joined on the front row by a driver from another famous racing family, as Christian Fittipaldi claimed second on the grid by a miniscule eight-hundredths of a second with a lap at 1:22.274 (100.639 mph) in the No. 66 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley. Fittipaldi--the nephew of Formula 1 world champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi--has been quick throughout the weekend at Barber Motorsports Park and throughout the season. However, the Brazilian and his No. 66 co-driver, Jorg Bergmeister, enter Sunday's race still looking for their first Rolex Series victory of the season.

"It's definitely not a bad place to be for the start tomorrow," Fittipaldi said. "We did our homework this weekend, and we definitely had a car that had a shot at the pole. But, we'll see what happens tomorrow."

Daytona Prototype co-points leader Max Angelelli will start third in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley following a lap at 1:22.578 (100.269 mph). Angelelli made a rare qualifying appearance for a "sprint race," as his co-driver and car owner, Wayne Taylor, normally handles those duties. However, with high temperatures being a possibility in Sunday's race, the team decided to have Angelelli run the opening stint, with Taylor taking the second stint and Angelelli returning to the car to finish out the race. Taylor and Angelelli look to extend their Daytona Prototype points lead in the Porsche 250.

Despite his crash, Bobbi managed to place the No. 77 machine in the fourth position on the grid with a lap at 1:22.656 (100.174 mph) in an impressive performance in the team's first race since switching from Lexus to Ford power. Bobbi will co-drive the No. 77 with fellow Italian Fabrizio Gollin in Sunday's race.

Mike Borkowski completed the top five with a best lap at 1:22.895 (99.885 mph) in the No. 6 Mears Motor Coach Pontiac Riley for Michael Shank Racing. Borkowski will co-drive with Kenny Wilden in the Porsche 250 as both drivers look for their first Rolex Series victory of the season. The top seven qualifiers turned laps within one second of each other.

SPEED Channel will provide live television coverage of the Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant beginning at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday. SPEED Channel will also offer live in-car video through its new On-board SPEED Pass, while live timing & scoring data and audio webcasts in English and Spanish will be available on the official web site of the Grand American Road Racing Association, www.grandamerican.com.

MARKS QUALIFIES ON GT POLE FOR FIRST TIME AT BARBER MOTORSPORTS PARK

Although he has four Grand-Am Cup Series pole positions thus far in 2005, it wasn't until today that Justin Marks qualified on the GT class pole position. The Californian--who started from the GT class pole once last year when the field was set on point standings--earned his first class pole on the strength of a lap at 1:31.036 (90.953 mph) in the No. 16 F1 Air BMW M3 he shares with Joey Hand.

"I got a little bit frustrated early on in the session," Marks said. "With these tires, the best lap is the first lap and I worked hard to get a gap. Unfortunately, I hit a bunch of traffic on my first lap that was waiting behind, just leaving the pits, so I had to hang back and find a gap. Unfortunately, we weren't able to qualify when the tires were at their optimum, and that in itself is a testament to this team and how hard the guys have worked. Our car has been awesome this weekend. This is the perfect way to end practice and head to the race. I'm very happy for all the guys and hopefully we can just finish where we start."

Marks led a front-row sweep for BMW Team PTG, as he is joined on the GT front row by Kelly Collins in the No. 17 F1 Air BMW M3. Collins--who co-drives with RJ Valentine--clocked a best lap at 1:31.109 (90.880 mph), but echoed his teammate's sentiments that traffic made for a difficult session.

"My timing was a bit off on my quick lap and I caught traffic," Collins said. "The competition is so close that anyone can slow you down if you catch them at certain parts of this track. I am happy to be second, but there was a pole in the No. 17 M3 today."

Spencer Pumpelly will start third in the No. 36 Ajilon Consulting/TPC Superchargers Porsche GT3 Cup he co-drives with John Littlechild thanks to a lap at 1:31.125 (90.864 mph). BMW Team PTG machines took four of the top-five class positions, as Ian James qualified the No. 22 BMW Financial Services M3 fourth on the grid at 1:31.170 (90.819 mph) and Tom Milner took fifth on the grid in the No. 21 BMW Financial Services M3 at 1:31.180 (90.809 mph). James will co-drive the No. 22 with Chris Gleason Jr. in the Porsche 250, while Milner's co-driver in the No. 21 is two-time GT champion Bill Auberlen.

-grandamerican.com

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Alex Gurney , Fabrizio Gollin , Christian Fittipaldi , Wayne Taylor , Bill Auberlen , Joey Hand , Kelly Collins , Dan Gurney , Ian James , Jörg Bergmeister , Matteo Bobbi , Max Angelelli , Justin Marks , Emerson Fittipaldi , Chris Gleason , Spencer Pumpelly , Mike Borkowski , John Littlechild , Chip Ganassi , Bob Stallings , Michael Shank
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Krohn Racing , Doran Racing