Laguna Seca: Qualifying races report

Long Continues Front-Row Streak for Alex Job Racing with Road & Track 250 Qualifying Race Win MONTEREY, Calif. (May 6, 2006) -- American Patrick Long started from the pole position and led the entire way in Saturday afternoon's...

Long Continues Front-Row Streak for Alex Job Racing with Road & Track 250 Qualifying Race Win

MONTEREY, Calif. (May 6, 2006) -- American Patrick Long started from the pole position and led the entire way in Saturday afternoon's Daytona Prototype qualifying race for Sunday's Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Road & Track 250 (SPEED, Live, 3 p.m. ET), securing the win for himself and teammate Mike Rockenfeller in the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford.

Long's win puts Rockenfeller on the pole position for the Road & Track 250, and extends the No. 23 team's streak of consecutive front-row qualifying performance to six races. Currently the Daytona Prototype points co-leader with Rockenfeller, Long was never seriously challenged throughout the qualifying race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. With the win, the duo extends their points lead to 21 points over Germany's Jorg Bergmeister (199-178).

"I got off to a good start, but (Oswaldo Negri Jr.) made me work for it," said Long. "I was sweating at the end. The second half of the race he reeled me in; he was strong in some places, I was stronger in others."

"It's nice to be on the front row, and inside in particular," added Rockenfeller. "Hopefully, I can get a good start tomorrow like Patrick did today. To start on the front row is good but the race is decided at the end."

Negri finished 0.940 seconds behind Long in the No. 60 Flight Options Lexus Riley to put the No. 60 machine on the front row for second time in as many Rolex Series races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Negri took his first career Rolex Series pole for the Road & Track 250 last year and is once again sharing driving duties this weekend with Mark Patterson.

"The start was good, everyone was very aggressive but clean," said Negri. "We went two wide into the corkscrew on the first lap, but it was no problem, everyone was really heads up out there. After that, I was just trying to pressure the Porsche into making a mistake, but unfortunately he did a really good job and never made one. It's a good finish and I'm really happy to get the points for Michael Shank Racing. Mark (Patterson) is even faster than he was here last year, and I know he's going to do a fantastic job tomorrow. Hopefully we can turn this into another good result tomorrow for the Flight Options car."

Ryan Dalziel finished third in the No. 89 Playboy/Vonage Pontiac Riley for Pacific Coast Motorsports. It is the No. 89 machine's best starting position ever in Rolex Series competition, and Dalziel and co-driver Alex Figge, who will start Sunday's Road & Track 250, are looking to parlay that starting spot into their first top-10 result of the season.

Michael McDowell--winner of the first-ever Daytona Prototype qualifying race at VIR two weeks ago--finished fourth in the No. 19 Playboy/Uniden/Palms Ford Crawford, giving co-driver Guy Cosmo a starting spot on the outside of Row 2.

Defending Rolex Series co-champion Max Angelelli finished fifth in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley. Angelelli co-drove with Wayne Taylor to the team's first podium result with a second-place outing in the VIR 400 two weeks ago, and the Italian will be rejoined by Danish hotshoe Jan Magnussen--with whom he co-drove in the Crown Royal Grand American Challenge of Long Beach last month--for the Road & Track 250.

The Rolex Series will have one more practice session on the 2.238-mile, 11-turn Northern California circuit prior to the Road & Track 250 beginning at 9:30 a.m. PT Sunday morning. The green flag will drop on the Road & Track 250 at 12:00 p.m. PT (3:00 p.m. ET) and SPEED will have live coverage of all the race beginning at that time.

COLLINS LEADS 1-2 SWEEP FOR TRG IN GT QUALIFIER FOR ROAD & TRACK 250

Kelly Collins passed Robin Liddell in Turn 2 on the third lap of Saturday's Road & Track 250 GT qualifying race and never looked back, clinching the victory in the No. 64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R by more than 10 seconds. With the win, Collins' co-driver, Paul Edwards, will start from the front of the GT class grid in tomorrow afternoon's Road & Track 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

"The whole weekend we've been chasing a pushing car," said Collins. "I've been coming here my whole life. I don't know any more secrets than anyone else, but I do know where to hit the marks and when I miss them, how to get back on the marks. Driving this track is like tying my shoe."

Andy Lally finished second in the No. 65 TRG/F1 Air Pontiac GTO.R, giving co-driver Marc Bunting a front-row starting position for Sunday's feature race. With the finish, Lally and Bunting maintain their lead in the GT driver point standings, now holding a seven-point advantage over Robin Liddell and Wolf Henzler (183-176). The No. 65 duo also finished second in the VIR 400 qualifying race two weeks ago.

Lally battled for most of the race with Bill Auberlen in the No. 05 Sigalsport BMW M3, eventually passing the California native on Lap 16 of the 20-lap sprint. Just two laps later, Auberlen was forced to pull off-course with an apparent engine failure.

"It took some time to get by Bill," said Lally. "It was very eventful and we had a handful of side-by-sides. That's good because I enjoy racing with him. I had nothing for Kelly, though."

Liddell started from the pole position in the No. 72 NEC Porsche GT3, but relinquished the lead to Collins in the "Andretti Hairpin" (Turn 2) at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Liddell dropped as far as fourth in the running order, allowing Collins, Auberlen and Lally by during the race's early stages, but with the No. 05 BMW eliminated from contention late, the No. 72 machine finished third. As a result, Germany's Wolf Henzler occupies the inside of Row 2 on Sunday's grid.

Champ Car veteran Ryan Hunter-Reay--making his Rolex Series debut--finished fourth in the No. 17 SAMAX Porsche GT3, putting Ian James fourth on the starting grid. Hunter-Reay was followed by Sylvain Tremblay in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8, putting co-driver David Haskell on the inside of the third row.

-garra-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Ryan Dalziel , Paul Edwards , Jan Magnussen , Wayne Taylor , Robin Liddell , Bill Auberlen , Guy Cosmo , Kelly Collins , Andy Lally , Jörg Bergmeister , Michael McDowell , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Max Angelelli , Patrick Long , Alex Figge , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Marc Bunting , Mark Patterson , Wolf Henzler , Alex Job
Teams Alex Job Racing , SpeedSource