Birmingham: Series Friday notes

Banner Racing Teammates Collins, Reese Will Share Front Row in Saturday's Grand-Am Rolex Series GT Race BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 20, 2007) -- If qualifying is any indication, things are shaping up for a banner weekend for Banner Racing ...

Banner Racing Teammates Collins, Reese Will Share Front Row in Saturday's Grand-Am Rolex Series GT Race

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 20, 2007) -- If qualifying is any indication, things are shaping up for a banner weekend for Banner Racing in Saturday's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve GT class race at Barber Motorsports Park.

Kelly Collins placed the No. 07 Banner Racing/Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R on the pole position for the race, which starts at 3 p.m. CT (Live, on SPEED) Saturday at the Birmingham track, running a time of 1:29.513 (92.500 mph). Collins and co-driver Paul Edwards have qualified on pole four times in the past five races, but are still searching for their first win of 2007.

"Craig (Stanton) was second in line and I was third to start the qualifying session," Collins said. "David Murry (who was first in line) let us go by. I was going to try to go by Stanton, but he took off. I decided to give him some ground and give me something to chase after. Our Banner Pontiac GXP is the best it's been in the past two days. We were good this morning but then went the wrong direction this afternoon, so we went back to this morning, used a softer front bar, and ran consistent laps and ran it as hard as we could until we ripped the tires off."

Starting alongside Collins in the front row is the second Banner Racing entry, the No. 06 Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R driven by Leighton Reese. Reese, who will co-drive with Tim Lewis Jr., qualified in a time of 1:29.738 (92.268 mph). Both Collins and Reese set their fast laps on the second lap of the 15-minute qualifying session.

"For my personal ego, we'd like to be P1, but if the 06 or 07 does well, it's a victory for Pontiac and a victory for Banner," Reese said. "That's all we care about right now. Good job for Kelly Collins, he ripped off a flier, and we squeaked one out over Craig Stanton and the Farnbacher guys. It should be a good battle tomorrow."

Stanton, co-driving the No. 85 Farnbacher Loles Motorsports Shoes For Crews/Recaro Porsche GT3 with Ian Baas, fell just short of Reese with a fast lap of 1:29.747 (92.259 mph) to qualify third. The No. 85 is also searching for its first win in 2007.

Nick Ham will start the race in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 alongside of Stanton, after lapping the 2.3-mile, 16-turn permanent road course in 1:30.184 (91.812 mph). Ham and co-driver Sylvain Tremblay have won three times this season. Eric Curran's No. 03 Georgian Bay Motorsports SCADAPack Corvette is the fourth engine manufacturer in the GT class qualifying top-five, after Curran turned a lap of 1:30.405 (91.587 mph). Curran -- who will also start on the Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Street Tuner (ST) -- teams this weekend with Jamie Holtom.

Rolex GT championship points leader Dirk Werner will co-drive in tomorrow's race in the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Motorsports Marquis Jet/IPC/Recaro Porsche GT3 with Bryce Miller, who qualified in seventh place.

The GT machines will fire up Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. CT (Live on SPEED) for 109 laps (250.7 miles, 400 kilometers) or two-and-a-half hours. Live coverage of the event -- including live Timing & Scoring data and audio webcasts -- is available on the official web site of Grand-Am,


The No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley topped the charts in each Daytona Prototype practice session in preparation for Sunday's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve race at Barber Motorsports Park.

Eighteen-year-old Colin Braun posted a fast time of 1:22.037 (100.930 mph) in Friday's afternoon session, while teammate Nic Jonsson doubled up the success of the No. 75 machine posting the fastest time in the morning session. Braun -- driving with then-teammate Jorg Bergmeister -- captured the win in last year's Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant at the Birmingham track.

"We were out there running through our program of changes we wanted to run through," Braun said. "The car was really good. We're really working hard to make sure we've got a good race car. I don't think we have that much for them (No. 99 car). Everybody put new tires on at the end of practice, so lowering our time was not a huge surprise. We at Krohn Racing had a good test here, and the guys are working really hard this weekend, working really well together. I think we just have a good car. Nic had the fast time this morning on new tires, and I got in later."

Alex Gurney, driving the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stalling Racing Pontiac Riley, led for most of the afternoon session until his fast time was eclipsed by Braun on his session's last lap. Gurney's time of 1:22.089 (100.866 mph) was less than a five hundredths of a second behind Braun's time.

"We've been learning the whole time; yesterday, we were really scratching our heads," said Gurney. "The No. 75 car has been very quick all weekend. We definitely have been improving the GAINSCO car every session, and we improved it quite a bit more in that last session. Jon Fogarty, (team engineer) Kyle Brannan and I really worked to perfect the balance, because this track is very complex and technical. The challenge is to find the best compromise that creates a stable, drivable car."

The No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley of Max Angelelli ran third fastest, turning a time of 1:22.510 (100.356 mph). Angelelli currently sits second in the points championship behind Scott Pruett and needs a strong finish to close the gap. Angelelli will team this weekend in the No. 10 machine with Memo Gidley.

Two Lexus Rileys followed the Pontiac trio in the top-five of today's practice sessions, led by the No. 19 Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Z-Line Designs/Mission Residential Pontiac Riley driven by Michael Valiante in a time of 1:22.857 (99.931 mph) in fourth. Valiante and teammate Rob Finlay are coming off of a strong second-place effort last week at Iowa Speedway.

Rounding out the top five in Daytona Prototype practice is the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Lexus Riley driven by Oswaldo Negri. Negri lapped the circuit in 1:22.868 (99.918 mph) and will team this weekend with Mark Patterson.

The Daytona Prototype class will qualify Saturday at 10:25 a.m. CT for Sunday's Porsche 250 with the green flag waving at 2:00 p.m. CT (Live on SPEED).

-credit: garra

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams Krohn Racing , SpeedSource , Michael Shank Racing