Jon Fogarty captured the pole for Saturday's Rolex Sports Car Series Grand Prix of Miami, lapping the 2.3-mile, 11-turn Homestead-Miami Speedway road course in 1:12.879 in the Gainsco Racing Pontiac Riley he will share in the race with Alex Gurney.
Jon Fogarty captured the pole for Saturday's Rolex Sports Car Series Grand Prix of Miami, lapping the 2.3-mile, 11-turn Homestead-Miami Speedway road course in 1:12.879 in the Gainsco Racing Pontiac Riley he will share in the race with Alex Gurney. It was Fogarty's fifth straight pole and his sixth in the last seven races. And with four wins and seven podium finishes, Fogarty and Gurney currently hold an eight-point lead over SunTrust Racing's Max Angelelli and Brian Frisselle in the Daytona Prototype drivers' championship going into the final race of the year.
"It was a good run," explained the diminutive Fogarty, who looked fresh after his qualifying run despite the blistering 90-degree heat hovering over the Miami area. "We are definitely pleased to be running up front. We knew we had to maximize our tires early in the run. And I was able to do so and get a clear lap. I was going to try to match my time but we were keeping on tabs on where our competitors were and I didn't want to put any more miles on my tires unnecessarily. So we decided to bring it in a little early to give them a rest because we're going to need them tomorrow."
The Gainsco squad can clinch its second Rolex Series championship in the three years with a finish of fourth or better. But to do that Gurney and Fogerty will have to manage their tires, abstain from taking any unnecessary risks, and deal with ambient temperatures that are expected to exceed 90 degrees. Of those three, the former could pose the most difficulty as all teams have been experiencing significant amounts of tire degradation this weekend, possibly due to the extremely hot conditions.
"We are in a good position for tomorrow but it is going to be a long hard race," added Gurney. "It is really hot and there are a lot of fast cars. The tire issue with the heat and this track is our biggest issue this weekend. You are going to see cars sliding around a lot and it should be fun to watch the cars at the end of an hour-long stint."
Max Angelelli and Brian Frisselle are also in a good position for the race, as Frisselle qualified second in the SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara. But to take the championship, Angelelli and Frisselle must win the race and hope for Gurney and Fogarty to finish lower than fourth. "Our strategy is to win the race," explained Frisselle. "It's going to be a difficult race to win because someone could come in late, take tires, and take a gamble. We're going to just try to maximize our tire wear and hopefully not give up too much track position in doing that."
Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, who qualified seventh in the Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley, lie third in the championship, ten points behind Fogarty and Gurney. But both the SunTrust and Gainsco teams will have to falter for the Ganassi team to have a realistic chance of winning the championship for the second straight year.
Romain Dumas, driving the Penske Porsche Riley, was third fastest in qualifying. Mark Wilkins' AIM Autosport Ford Riley was fourth, followed by the BMW Riley of Ryan Hunter-Reay. The first of the two Brumos Porsche Rileys qualified sixth. Hurley Haywood will co-drive the second Brumos entry in light of J.C. France's recent suspension.
"Grand-Am has issued a penalty notice and suspended J.C. indefinitely from all competition for actions detrimental to racing," NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said. "The penalty is not appealable. J.C. is being treated like any other competitor. His suspension is immediate and indefinite."
In the GT class, Nick Ham won the pole for the fifth time this season in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8. The Pontiacs of Paul Edwards and Andrew Davis qualified second and third, respectively. Leh Keen and Dirk Werner can win the GT drivers' championship if they can both complete 30 minutes in the race.