Luis Diaz turned the fastest lap Friday in qualifying for the Rolex Sports Car Series Crown Royal 250 at Watkins Glen International. Diaz, who will share the No. 01 Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley with Scott Pruett in Saturday's race, lapped the...
Luis Diaz turned the fastest lap Friday in qualifying for the Rolex Sports Car Series Crown Royal 250 at Watkins Glen International. Diaz, who will share the No. 01 Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley with Scott Pruett in Saturday's race, lapped the Glen's 3.4-mile, 11-turn long course in 1:44.836, .756 seconds ahead of Jorg Bergmeister in the No. 66 TRG/Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley. "I have to give all of the credit to the Ganassi guys," said Diaz. "They did a great job to give me a competitive car this weekend. Lexus has been working on the power and Hoosier has been working hard for us on the tires. It's an honor to be up here with Jorg."
Diaz and Pruett have two wins and four poles this season but they trail Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli in the drivers' championship by 36 points with three races remaining. But even with wins in each of the last three races, it is going to be difficult for Diaz and Pruett to catch the SunTrust team. That is why their sole focus now is winning races. "We don't have anything to lose anymore," said Diaz, referring to Taylor and Angelelli. "They have the pressure, not us. I think our focus right now is winning all of the races we can. If we can win the last three races, we are going to go for it, especially Mexico. That's our mentality now - all or nothing."
Taylor qualified sixth in the SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley. "The end result was a little disappointing considering at the beginning we were really up there in second and third for a long time," said Taylor. "But on lap four, I just didn't seem to be able to get the car to handle like the first three laps. It's a good race car. I thought that after doing the 1:46.1 on the third lap that we were going to be in a good position to go even faster. But for whatever reason the car became loose in the high speed corners. I suppose we have to look at a few things to make sure we have a good car for tomorrow."
The No. 02 Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley of Cort Wagner will start third, followed by Burt Frisselle in the No. 8 Synergy Racing BMW Doran and Matteo Bobbi in the Doran Racing Ford Doran.
In the GT class, Bill Auberlen claimed his second pole of the year in the No. 21 PTG BMW M3, qualifying .311 seconds ahead of the No. 64 Pontiac GTO.R driven by Paul Edwards. Edwards and co-driver Jan Magnussen have won two of the last three races.
"The GTO's are taking it to us now," said Auberlen, who will co-drive his BMW with Tom Milner. "I think everybody is on paranoid alert (about the GTO). Everybody assumes that they are half-throttle and not wide-open. Maybe they are holding something back that we'll never know about. But we're doing everything we can with what we have. We just hope that it's enough for here. We have good straight-line speed and we're quicker than they are. And that's good. If we can get down the straights quicker than them and we handle good, it could be good."
To help improve their odds, Auberlen, who usually finishes races, is going to start the race. "It's been a while since I have gotten to start a race. I'm usually the finisher or the closer. I am going to wind it up, crank my belt tight, and go after it. I want to lead a race and hand over the car to my teammate in first place and let him go for the win."
Marc Bunting's GTO.R qualified third in class. GT class point leader Craig Stanton will start tenth, four positions behind Joey Hand, who lies second in the championship standings.
Saturday's race will be televised live on the Speed Channel at 3 p.m. ET.