Pontiac Qualifies on the Front Row for Daytona 24 Max Angelelli Fastest Pontiac Driver on Thursday DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Pontiac will start Saturday's 43rd running of the legendary 24 Hours of Daytona from the front row of the grid after an...
Pontiac Qualifies on the Front Row for Daytona 24
Max Angelelli Fastest Pontiac Driver on Thursday
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Pontiac will start Saturday's 43rd running of the legendary 24 Hours of Daytona from the front row of the grid after an impressive qualifying session on Thursday at Daytona International Speedway. Driver Max Angelelli set the best Pontiac time of the day, 1:46.945, less than two hundredths of a second behind the pole position. Pontiac race cars populated two of the top three positions and six out of the top 10.
"We have more Pontiacs in the Top 10 than any other marque and that is a great way to start a 24-hour race," said Jim Lutz, GM Racing program manager for Daytona Prototypes. "We've got some experienced teams continuing to do well and some new teams that have shown great speed as well. With our mission to recapture the engine manufacturers' trophy in 2005, we're very much looking forward to the beginning of this legendary race."
Under Rolex Series rules, Thursday's qualifying session determined the first 30 positions for Saturday's grid. Another qualifying session, held on Friday morning, will place the remaining 34 cars.
Max Papis, 2004 Rolex Series champion, will drive the #66 Pontiac Riley along with Jorg Bergmeister and Oliver Gavin. Papis captured a remarkable third place in qualifying on Thursday in what is basically a brand new chassis and new team in Krohn Racing TRG.
"I thought that for being the first time out we did an excellent job," said Papis. "We put the car on the second row, really close to the pole position. It was a lap where I gave it my best and I drove as hard as I could; I wanted the pole very badly but at the same time it's a great satisfaction to be up front. Qualifying is not very important but it sets the tone. Now we have to focus and make it last for 24 hours."
Pontiac entered Rolex Series last year and made an immediate impression by winning the 24 Hours of Daytona as well as the manufacturers' championship. This year, Pontiac engines will power 12 of the 29 Daytona Prototype race cars that face off this weekend. Two Pontiac GTO.R race cars will also enter the GT class of the series in June. In 2004, driver Max Angelelli proved to be a consistent winner and qualifier; in Thursday's 15-minute session, the Italian came just short of the pole position.
"Our team is as good as any other team out there," said Angelelli, driver of the #10 Pontiac Riley. "I'm racing with two very good drivers. We know each other, have raced together since 1999 and we get along and fit very well together. But we are not the only ones; as we see on the driver lineup, there are many talented drivers and this year will be a really tough race, as was qualifying -- you only get one shot at it."