Birmingham: Saturday qualifying report

Papis Breaks Rolex Series Record With Pole for Porsche 250 BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (June 28, 2004) -- For a record 10th time in 11 races, the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley will start from the pole position in Sunday's Porsche 250 ...

Papis Breaks Rolex Series Record With Pole for Porsche 250

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (June 28, 2004) -- For a record 10th time in 11 races, the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley will start from the pole position in Sunday's Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant at Barber Motorsports Park (SPEED Channel, 1 p.m. ET).

Two records fell in today's qualifying session, as in addition to the fact that the No. 01 topped the 2001 record of nine pole in a single season set by Dyson Racing Team co-drivers Butch Leitzinger and James Weaver, Italian driver Max Papis shattered the Barber Motorsports Park track record with a best qualifying lap at 1:20.613 (102.713 mph). Papis' lap was nearly four seconds quicker than David Donohue's previous track record of 1:24.313 (98.205 mph).

"Ten poles is a single season is a very nice record to have and it's a credit to all the CompUSA crew guys here and at the shop for the job they do every day that has made us this successful in our first season in the Rolex Series," Papis said. "We'll start P1 and we'll try to stay P1 the whole race. Qualifying was difficult today because the track is so very different than it was in practice so I really had to change my driving style because the (No.) 01 Lexus Riley behaved so differently as well. The (No.) 01 car was very loose but I today loose was fast and that's what we were."

The Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant will be the fifth consecutive race that Papis will start from the inside of the front row, and Papis has started from the pole six times in 2004. Co-driver Scott Pruett took the team's other four pole positions, and the duo enters the race looking to extend or maintain the five-point lead they share in the Daytona Prototype driver standings over No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley driver Wayne Taylor (297-292).

Starting a season-best second will be 2003 Daytona Prototype champion Terry Borcheller in the No. 54 Kodak EasyShare Pontiac Doran. Borcheller--who is also the defending champion at Barber Motorsports Park--clocked a best lap of 1:20.907 (102.340 mph) to put his car on the outside of the front row. The performance topped his previous season-best qualifying result of third, which came at the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.

"I had a clean track and a clean lap," Borcheller said. "The Bell Motorsports team has been working hard to get the Kodak EasyShare car as good as it can be when it needs to be good, and I think we came pretty close to that today. Our fastest lap was done before I came in for the tire pressure adjustment. If the lap had been just a little bit cleaner, it would have been the pole. (Co-driver) Christian (Fittipaldi) told me he wasn't going to talk to me if I didn't put it on the front row, so I knew I had to do my best."

Qualifying an impressive third was Andrew Davis in the No. 39 The Spark of Georgia Tech Pontiac Crawford. Davis turned in a best lap of 1:21.954 (101.032 mph) and will start his third Rolex Sports Car Series race of the season from the inside of Row 2. Davis also drove with the No. 39 at the 6 Heures du Circuit Mont-Tremblant in May and the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen in June, sharing the ride with co-drivers Larry Huang and Chris Hall. Davis and Hall will share the driving duties tomorrow.

"What a great qualifying session," Davis said. "Larry and Chris invited me to come to this race and run the sprint race with Chris. We had talked about strategy and Chris decided to put me in for qualifying. I work here for the Porsche Driving Experience, so I know this track really well, but it's a surprise. We went a lot faster today and I'm thrilled. We got this car up front for Silverstone Racing, Pontiac and Crawford, and it's great. For me, this is really a high point."

Taylor will start fourth in the No. 10 machine after a best qualifying lap of 1:22.063 (100.898) as he and co-driver Max Angelelli go for their fourth victory of the season and their second win in-a-row. Jimmy Morales made it two CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing cars in the top five by putting the No. 02 Lexus Riley fifth on the grid with a lap of 1:22.071 (100.888 mph). Morales and co-driver Luis Diaz are still seeking their first career Rolex Series triumph. Despite overcast conditions and the threat of rain during today's qualifying session, the top 10 cars eclipsed the previous track record.


GT class points leader Bill Auberlen will start from first in the GT class for the sixth time in 11 races in the No. 21 Prototype Technology Group BMW M3 after posting a best lap of 1:27.220 (94.932 mph). Auberlen's time eclipsed the previous GT qualifying record of 1:27.902 (94.196 mph) established by Cort Wagner last year, and was slightly more than one tenth of a second quicker than Auberlen's teammate Boris Said.

"It was really, really close," Auberlen said. "I mean, Boris had it. My first lap out before a black flag was going to be really quick, and then we took the edge out of the tire a little bit. We came in and sat, then I towed Boris around and he got the advantage of that. He did a great job. He had it and I took it away a tenth after that. Then, I was just sitting in the pits worried that he was going to go back out. If he went back out, I was going to follow him out. This is Team PTG keeping up with the weather. When it rains, we're on it, when it's dry, we're on it, and when it's in between we're on it. They know their cars. That's why they're so good."

Said will start second following a best qualifying lap at 1:27.325 (94.818 mph) in the No. 22 Prototype Technology Group BMW M3. For the second consecutive race, Joao Barbosa put the No. 33 Scuderia Ferrari of Washington Maserati Light GT third on the class grid with a best lap at 1:27.992 (94.099 mph), followed by Kelly Collins in the No. 16 Prototype Technology Group BMW M3 at 1:28.207 (93.870 mph). Chuck Hemmingson rounded out the class top five in the No. 06 ICY/SL Motorsports Corvette at 1:29.959 (92.042 mph).


Like the Daytona Prototype and GT fastest qualifiers, Michael Levitas also broke the Super Grand Sport (SGS) qualifying record on his way to the class pole position. Levitas toured the 2.3-mile circuit in 1:33.340 (88.708 mph) in the No. 36 TPC Racing Porsche GT3 Cup, topping the previous record of 1:35.437 (86.759 mph) set by Bobby Julien last year. It was Levitas' second straight pole and he and co-driver Randy Pobst enter tomorrow's race looking for their third consecutive class victory.

"We were behind a little bit on the setup, but the car was still working very well," Levitas said. "TPC has done a great job this weekend. The Porsche GT3 performed flawlessly. We really feel great about it. We're coming into this thing with two races under us. Randy and I are really pumped. We're not going to be overenthusiastic at this point. We're just going to take it as one race at a time. We've got the pole, and now we're going to sit back and really work at the win. We can do it."

Starting second in the SGS class will be Leh Keen in the No. 14 Autometrics Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup following a best lap of 1:33.500 (88.556 mph), while class co-points leader Marc Bunting starts third at 1:33.834 (88.241 mph) in the No. 38 TPC Racing Porsche GT3 Cup. Gene Sigal placed the No. 04 Grease Monkey Racing Porsche GT3 Cup fourth on the SGS grid at 1:34.110 (87.982 mph) and Jim Tafel rounded out the class top five in the No. 73 Baldwin-Tafel Racing Porsche GT3 Cup at 1:34.895 (87.254 mph).


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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Chris Hall , Butch Leitzinger , Boris Said , Max Papis , Scott Pruett , Wayne Taylor , Bill Auberlen , Randy Pobst , Kelly Collins , Luis Diaz , Terry Borcheller , David Donohue , Max Angelelli , Joao Barbosa , Chuck Hemmingson , Michael Levitas , Andrew Davis , Jimmy Morales , Larry Huang , Marc Bunting , Chip Ganassi , Jim Tafel , Lehman Keen , Cort Wagner
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Autometrics Motorsports , Dyson Racing