Jon Fogarty captured his first pole of the season Saturday in qualifying for the Rolex Sports Car Series U.S. Sports Car Invitational at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, lapping the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course in 1:20.787 behind the wheel of the No.
Jon Fogarty captured his first pole of the season Saturday in qualifying for the Rolex Sports Car Series U.S. Sports Car Invitational at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, lapping the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course in 1:20.787 behind the wheel of the No. 99 Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley. Fogarty and his teammate, Alex Gurney, have qualified no lower than second through the first five events of the year, though they have only one win to show for their efforts.
"It's great to be as consistent as we are in qualifying," said Fogarty. "We need to be that quick in the races, however, if we want to contend for the championship. But our engineer has given us a great car to work with. Both Alex and I have been quick behind the wheel and we are excited about the race. I think we have a real good shot at keeping it upfront this weekend."
Sunday's race will be the second of the season without the GT class cars. Some teams have struggled to adjust to the missing GT cars. However, Fogarty thinks his team has a pretty good feel for how to race when the GT cars are not present. "We're getting more and more familiar with it as we do more races without them. I think you have to rely a little more on pace than you do when the GT cars aren't here. There are less opportunities to overtake when there's not GT cars. It's a not a huge factor. We just need to keep the car together and just run hard. It is a little bit less of an endurance event without them and more of a sprint race format."
Fresh off a win at Virginia International Raceway, points' leader Max Angelelli was second fastest in the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley, turning a lap .047 seconds behind Fogarty. With podium finishes in each of the first four races of the year, Angelelli and his co-driver, Jan Magnussen, currently hold an 11-point lead over Scott Pruett in the Daytona Prototype drivers' championship. Pruett's teammate, Memo Rojas, qualified fifth in the Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley.
But while he is happy to be on the front row, Angelelli's focus is on the championship. "We need to win to win the championship so we are going to push as usual. Our target was that we needed to finish in the top-three in all of the races. That was our feeling because this championship is so competitive. It's so close. You cannot miss a race. It will take you five or six races to recover. We want to be there and we want to be consistent."
Starting behind Angelelli will be Patrick Long, who set the third fastest time in the resurgent No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche Crawford - the lone Crawford in this weekend's 19-car Daytona Prototype field. "Seems like we have been making steady progress since the beginning of the season," explained Long, whose best finish this season was fifth in Mexico City. "The race was a little for us at (Virginia International Raceway), but we have put that behind us and we are here at a much different circuit . . . and so far so good. We thought we might have a shot at the front row but we ran out of fuel on our last (fast) lap, which was looking pretty good. But that's all behind us now and it's on to the race.
"This is one of the most difficult championships I have ever been in and it keeps getting stronger. So as we progress, guys like the No. 10 and the No. 99 are doing their homework, too. So it's sort of a moving target. But the boys are really positive about it and so am I.
Christian Fittipaldi, driving the No. 39 Cheever Racing Porsche Fabcar, rounded out the top-five, who were separated by less than two-tenths of a second.