Pontiac Qualifies Third, Fourth And Fifth At Fontana Jorg Bergmeister Fastest Pontiac Driver on Saturday; Luis Diaz Clinches Pole for Ferrari Maserati 400 FONTANA, Calif. - Pontiac will start Sunday's Ferrari Maserati 400 at California Speedway...
Pontiac Qualifies Third, Fourth And Fifth At Fontana
Jorg Bergmeister Fastest Pontiac Driver on Saturday; Luis Diaz Clinches Pole for Ferrari Maserati 400
FONTANA, Calif. - Pontiac will start Sunday's Ferrari Maserati 400 at California Speedway on the second row of the starting grid, with Krohn Racing/TRG driver Jorg Bergmeister posting a lap time of 1:33.556. Bergmeister was only two-tenths of a second behind Luis Diaz, who took the pole driving a Lexus Riley.
"Half of the cars in the Top 10 for tomorrow's starting grid are Pontiacs," said Jim Lutz, GM Racing program manager for Daytona Prototypes. "It gives us confidence that Pontiac teams will do well tomorrow. While starting grid positions are not always an indicator of who will win a race, it's nice to see our teams are performing well and up to the challenge of tomorrow's 400 kilometer race."
This afternoon's qualifying session was only three laps long, and although Pontiac teams performed well, those three laps were not without mishaps. A black flag stopped the cars early in qualifying when fluids on the course caused the #67 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley, #2 CITGO Pontiac Crawford and #25 Westernesse Ford Crawford spin. Qualifying resumed after the track was cleared and at that point Jorg Bergmeister had the fastest lap.
"Many drivers had some problems at the chicane where the track was slick, and I thought after we started back up again I may have a shot at pole," said Bergmeister. "But I wasn't quickest overall, so two Lexus cars are up front for the race. But I like the way the car was set up; a few more changes for tomorrow and I think we can do well."
Bergmeister's teammate Tracy Krohn was one of the drivers caught up in the mishap in the chicane, but Krohn was unhurt and the #67 Pontiac Riley he was driving was able to qualify 20th.
"I tried to go flat through that first chicane, unfortunately I didn't quite make it," said Krohn. "That was a tough spot. I went into a spin. We'll need to check the car and make sure everything is okay, but we'll have to start from the back and work our way forward. And Jorg did a great job for us."
Milka Duno was driving the #2 CITGO Pontiac Crawford and was hit by another car when her car spun in the first chicane; she was also fine but the car suffered slight damage to the nose after it flew off.
"The #59 Brumos Porsche hit me and there was nothing I could do," said Duno. "I'm not sure exactly what happened but I think the car will be good for tomorrow. That is most important. They say last year there was only one caution the whole race. To have this kind of thing happen in qualifying here was not expected."
Mike Borkowski put his #6 Michael Shank Racing Pontiac Riley on the number four spot for tomorrow's race and was optimistic about the changes his team made on the car in the last few days.
"We were really great at Homestead, and when we came here we just didn't have the same balance on the car as we did last month," said Borkowski. "In the last two sessions though, we've made some great changes and I feel a lot better now. We've got a really good car under us right now; only a notch under what we'd like it to be. The Pontiac engine is solid and the car is set up pretty well, so I think we're in good shape for tomorrow."
The Spirit of Daytona team has been constantly improving from the start of this season and driver Stephan Gregoire placed the #09 Pontiac Crawford on the fifth spot on the grid. Hampered by mechanical issues the last two races, drivers Gregoire and Doug Goad also feel very optimistic for the Ferrari Maserati 400.
"We haven't been very lucky this season," said Gregoire. "At Homestead we were running fifth; very strong for a while, and then we had a spark plug failure that put us back quite a bit. Nobody's fault, really. But our team is putting much effort into this and I think our qualifying spot is a good sign of what we can do for tomorrow."