Homestead: GM Racing qualifying report

All Pontiac GXP.R Front Row At Homestead SunTrust qualifies second in DP with new Dallara Homestead, Fla., March 28, 2008 -- The Banner Engineering No. 07 Pontiac GXP.R will start from pole with the Stevenson Motorsports GXP.R starting right ...

All Pontiac GXP.R Front Row At Homestead
SunTrust qualifies second in DP with new Dallara

Homestead, Fla., March 28, 2008 -- The Banner Engineering No. 07 Pontiac GXP.R will start from pole with the Stevenson Motorsports GXP.R starting right alongside for tomorrow's running of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami. The SunTrust Dallara will also start on the front row of the Daytona Prototype (DP) grid.

Kelly Collins behind the wheel of the No. 07 Banner GXP.R put in a time of 1:19.717 to take the pole for the second race of the season. Collins was able to adjust his car to the slippery track to start at the head of the 26 car GT field. Collins shares the 07 with Paul Edwards.

"All is good," Collins said. "The car is setup great, it suits my driving style. The only adjustment I made was to turn off the AC. On my fast lap I had to pass my teammate and boss Leighton going into turn one, I almost went off into the kitty litter. I had a big smile on my face. I went into turn one faster than I did all weekend and just stayed on it to get the pole."

Starting next to Collins will be the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsport Pontiac GXP.R qualified by Andrew Davis. Davis put in a time of 1:19.841 making it an all Pontiac front row in GT. Davis will share the seat Robin Liddell.

"We have been upfront all weekend," Davis said. "Right off of the truck we were fast. We actually went faster this morning. The track is slippery from the heat. The Stevenson team has prepared a great car. Robin and I are able to run fast consistent laps and we hope to carry that over tomorrow. It is an all GXP.R front row, a great effort for just our second race with the car."

Autohaus Motorsports will start from the seventh grid position in GT based upon Tim Lewis Jr.'s qualifying time of 1:20.518. Lewis will share the ride with Lawson Aschenbach.

"The car is great," Lewis said. "I had some trouble getting a clean lap in traffic. I would give them a gap on the bank and then run up on them in the infield. A lot of guys were dropping wheels and bringing dirt onto the track and that added to the problem. We are good in the infield and we will need to work our way back up to the front. The Autohaus guys have given us a good car."

Leighton Reese drove his No. 06 Banner Engineering GXP.R to a twelfth place qualifying position with a time of 1:20.715. Reese shares the seat with Jan Magnussen.

"I gave up my best lap so Kelly could get the pole," Reese said. "Kelly did a great job to get the Banner team on the pole, a nice reward after a tough Rolex 24. The GT field is tight. Another three-tenths and that would put me close to the top six. I think we are ok with the setup of the car. The track was pretty greasy this afternoon so we will have to see what the weather brings tomorrow. Homestead is not one of my favorite tracks, so I want to keep it up towards the front and turn it over to Jan and let him go like his head is on fire."

In the PR1 Motorsports GXP.R Mike Forest will start the team's first Grand-Am race from the fourteenth position in GT. Forest posted a time of 1:21.042 and shares the car with Thomas Merrill.

"We just wanted to keep the nose clean and put up a decent time," Forest said. "I am happy with that starting position for our first race. We hoped for a little more on fresh tires, but I dropped a wheel off of the track in turn three and that cost me some time on my fast lap. The car has a little oversteer, but we can dial that out for the race."

The SunTrust Pontiac driven by Michael Valiante posted a time of 1:13.305 to take the second starting position on the Daytona Prototype (DP) grid. The team is debuting its new Dallara DP car this weekend and the times so far appear to give Valiante and teammate Max Angelelli a lot to smile about for the rest of the season.

"Any time you switch to a new car there is a lot to do," Valiante said. "The team has been working day and night on the car since we received it after the Rolex. I think we have about 150 laps total on the car. The car is unknown for the race. We haven't driven hard for a race distance. There is a lot of things that the team has tried to anticipate that can wrong for a race distance, but you never really know."

Krohn Racing is also debuting a new DP car. Nic Jonsson qualified his No. 76 Lola in eighth with a time of 1:14.159. Jonsson will share his new Lola with regular season driver Ricardo Zonta.

I'm a little disappointed with the position we ended up for qualifying, even though we haven't been more than top 12 or so during practice," Jonsson said. "We made quite a bit of changes to the car for qualifying because we've been lacking top speed, basically, our straight line speed. We took a lot of downforce off the car and maybe went a little bit too far. We're actually have the quickest car with straight line now after doing a few trap speeds. This track, historically, gets very greasy, and very dirty out there. I think going with a little more downforce is going to be the wise thing to do. We need to just go out there, stay out of trouble and hope for the best. We need to come away from here with a decent finish."

Jim Matthews driving the No. 91 Riley-Matthews Pontiac Riley will start from the eighth row in DP based on his time of 1:16.001. Matthews will share the controls to teammate Marc Goosens.

"The track feels a lot greasier than this morning," Matthews said. "We didn't make any changes for the heat, except put on new tires. I had some problems with traffic. I would back off and try to get a gap and then the guy in front me would back off as well and end up right behind him again. When you are starting sixteenth you pray for rain."

The GAINSCO Pontiac team with drivers Alex Gurney and John Fogarty will start from the third row in fifth with their time of 1:1:13.625 put in by Fogarty. The Texas based team are the defending series champions.

"We did what we could and got the most out of the Pirelli Tires," Fogarty said. "The track was the slickest it has been all weekend, and that is probably due to the higher temperatures. We had a real good effort and we decided to save the tires and switch to race mode. We have an inside starting spot and we can certainly race them hard. We have a real good pit crew and that will certainly make a difference."

GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing announced that they will field a second car for Cristiano Da Matta and Jimmy Vasser at the May 17 round of the Rolex Series at Laguna Seca. The entry is significant as it will feature the return of Da Matta who suffered a head injury in testing at Road America in 2006 when his Champcar collided with a deer. The Laguna Seca race will mark his return to competitive racing since his accident. The team tested Da Matta last week at Eagles Canyon outside of Dallas. As a result of that test, Bob Stallings decided to run the duo at Laguna Seca with hopes for more races pending sponsorship.

"It was important test in many ways," Da Matta said. "After waiting a year and a half to get back behind the wheel of a race car it really tested my patience. It felt good to me right away. After three or five laps it really came back to me. It was a big relief in that I could still go fast and still had the feeling for the car. It was also a big relief to know that I could continue my career in racing. I have to thank Bob and his team, a lot of teams talked to me about driving again, but Bob made it happen."

"After the test it became very clear that we should run Cristiano," Stallings said. "He did so well that we decided to field a second car. We already have Jimmy Vasser who helps us on the longer races, so putting him together with Cristiano was a natural. Cristiano gave great feedback to Kyle [Brannan, team engineer] throughout the test. His insight into the car was great. He said that he liked the car and his times proved that. I said to Kyle that we have to find a sponsor and run him, because I don't want to compete against him."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams Krohn Racing , Stevenson Motorsports