Pontiac GXP.R On Front Row In Mexico City GAINSCO Top Qualifying Pontiac DP Car Fourth Detroit, Mich., April 18, 2008 -- Kelly Collins qualified the No. 07 Banner Pontiac GXP.R in second for tomorrow's running of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car ...
Pontiac GXP.R On Front Row In Mexico City
GAINSCO Top Qualifying Pontiac DP Car Fourth
Detroit, Mich., April 18, 2008 -- Kelly Collins qualified the No. 07 Banner Pontiac GXP.R in second for tomorrow's running of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Mexico City 250. Jon Fogarty at the wheel of the No. 99 GAINSCO Riley Pontiac was the top qualifying Pontiac Daytona Prototype (DP) car in fourth.
Collins posted a time of 1:26.631 in his No. 07 GXP.R that will see him on the outside of the front row of the GT grid for the start of the 250 mile race tomorrow afternoon. Collins shares the 07 yellow and black Banner Pontiac with Paul Edwards.
"It was close for the pole," Collins said. "I was driving as hard as I could. We have some small handling woes, but that is really the difference to being on the pole here. It is not good at all to be starting on the outside of the front row. I hope I don't get hung out on the first turn and end up going into turn three in like fifth. I will keep it up toward the front and then let Paul bring it home."
Andrew Davis qualified the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsport Pontiac GXP.R in fourth with a time of 1:26.980. Davis followed up a strong qualifying effort in the last race where he posted a second place effort. Davis will start and then turn over the driving duties to teammate Robin Liddell.
"It is not the pole," Davis said. "We made some changes since the morning practice and developed some over steer. We didn't run that much faster than we did in practice, we needed to be on the pole. It is a fine line with our handling right now, we just need to figure out what the car wants. We are lacking some stability in the esses."
In the No. 72 Autohaus Pontiac GXP.R Tim Lewis Jr. was at reins for qualifying. Lewis put up a time of 1:27.558, good for a seventh place starting spot. Lewis shares the 72 with fellow Floridian Lawson Aschenbach.
"The car is pretty good," Lewis said. "I missed my mark in a braking zone on my fast lap and threw it away. We are splitting hairs on the setup. We could be a little better. The car has some power down over steer. We have a good car for the race and the team will make another adjustment for the morning warm-up."
Team owner Leighton Reese qualified his number No. 06 Banner Pontiac in tenth with a time of 1:28.181. Reese shares the ride this weekend with sports car legend Ron Fellows.
"I went faster than last year's pole time here," Reese said. "That just shows how competitive the GT series and the drivers are this year. It is tough, the whole field is almost a second faster than last year. We are trying a couple things on the setup. We have gone from push to oversteer, so we are running the gamut on setup."
The No. 99 GAINSCO Pontiac Riley will start from the second row in DP based upon Jon Fogarty's time of 1:19.706. Fogarty and teammate Alex Gurney are the returning race winning champions from 2007.
"We just didn't have a great qualifying session," Fogarty said. "I think the car was capable of more than that and we just didn't get out in the best spot and take advantage of our tires when they were at their optimum. The places where other guys decide to slow down in order to give themselves a gap, I can only assume that they are intentionally trying to screw the rest of the field, which is very bad sportsmanship. If you are going to get a gap you might as well do it at one of the many places on this track where you are not going to impede other people. It's just unfortunate that's what these people have to revert to if they don't have the speed."
Michael Valiante put the SunTrust Pontiac Dallara on the third row with a time of 1:20.165. Valiante and co-driver Max Angelelli had a promising first outing with their new Dallara at Homestead are looking to carry that speed over to the Mexico City circuit.
"The car rolled out quick right away," Valiante said. "We were second-quickest in the first (practice) session (Friday). As the track changed, especially for qualifying, with a limited amount of new tires we're allowed to use this weekend, we've run a lot on old tires and we found that the car is really good on old tires. But as soon as you put new tires on, you get a huge amount of understeer. So we just struggled with that in qualifying. The car just wouldn't turn. It's definitely not bad. But you always want to be on the front row and it's a disappointment when you're not. The best thing this weekend, I'd say, is that we've got a better car for the longer distances. At Homestead (three weeks ago), we had a faster car for short distances. That's the positive. We've got some stuff to work on for the race. It'll be tough if we're running behind cars with this much understeer. But I'm confident we'll make some improvements. We've got one more practice tomorrow morning to get it right."
Nic Jonsson drove the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola to a seventh place qualifying effort putting in a time of 1:20.302. Jonsson and teammate Ricardo Zonta are looking for a strong outing in their new Lola DP ride.
"We were struggling this morning, but we figured that out, so we were much more competitive in qualifying," Jonsson said. "I'm still not 100% satisfied with a seventh place starting position. I think we should have been in the top five. I had a small mistake during qualifying going into turn four on my fast lap, so I think that would have given me the .2 seconds I needed to be in the top five. Otherwise, I think we have a very good race car. It's very well balanced, same as we had in Homestead. We seem to be able to run very good, consistent lap times on older tires. That's going to play a big role in the race. I'm very optimistic. It's just the second race we've run with the Proto-Auto Lola. I think we've made a lot of progress and a lot of strides in the right direction. Everyone is working hard and sooner or later, or sooner rather than later, hopefully, we're going to be on the podium. I think we still have a good chance this weekend."
In the Cheever Racing Cask No. 16 Pontiac Coyote Matteo Bobbi qualified eighth with a time of 1:20.890. Bobbi shares the black and gold Coyote with Antonio Garcia.
"I'm quite happy with today's result," Bobbi said. "I believe that it is a reasonable position for us to start the race. Now we will focus on race strategy. We proved that we could get the Crown Royal Cask No. 16 up to and hold a second place position at Homestead, now we will focus making it to the podium here in Mexico City."
Jim Matthews took the helm of the No. 91 Riley-Matthews Pontiac Riley in qualifying driving to a time of 1:21.814. Matthews and teammate Marc Goosens are currently fourth in the DP driver points standings.
"I did my best time of the weekend in qualifying," Matthews said. "We are getting 98% out of the car, but we need that extra two-percent to really make things great. We have some push in the car on entry and some oversteer at the exit. We have another practice session before the race to work things out. The Riley guys have some ideas, plus it will be a little hotter tomorrow afternoon for the race."
-credit: gm racing