Kelly Collins and Marc Bunting qualified their Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.Rs in 7th and 14th positions for Saturday's race. Lexington, Ohio (June 20, 2008): Kelly Collins turned a 1:26.070 on his third lap of the Mid-Ohio track in the No. 07...
Kelly Collins and Marc Bunting qualified their Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.Rs in 7th and 14th positions for Saturday's race.
Lexington, Ohio (June 20, 2008): Kelly Collins turned a 1:26.070 on his third lap of the Mid-Ohio track in the No. 07 Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R which will put the championship leading duo of Collins and Paul Edwards on the 4th row of the GT field for Saturday's Round 8 of the Rolex Grand-Am Championships Presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 the EMCO Gears Classic.
Marc Bunting qualified the No 06 Banner Pontiac GXP.R in the 14th position with a time of 1:26.678. Bunting will share the car with Danish driver Jan Magnussen who is fresh from his 2nd place finish at Le Mans last weekend in a Chevrolet Corvette C6.R.
"Right now we are missing out by only a couple of tenths but that is enough to keep us from being one of the front runners," said Kelly Collins. "I was getting on the brakes a little too soon early on in the session and later when I started using the brakes harder the track had gone away so I couldn't improve my time."
"We might have misread the track conditions a bit because both Kelly and Marc duplicated their fastest practice laps and usually you are a second or so faster in qualifying," said Leighton Reese of the changing conditions here in central Ohio. "We needed to find a couple of tenths because that was all we needed to move up quite a bit in the order. But it is that tough out there in Grand-Am GT. A couple of tenths of a second mean a lot!"
The Banner team continued to search for the optimum setup for both Pontiacs after recent competition adjustments by Grand-Am added weight to the Pontiac GXP.Rs and altered weight distribution.
"I am happier with the way the car is working compared to the first two sessions today," Collins said on the positive side. "There are some handling and instability issues with our car right now because of the weight penalties that have been put on us. As is stands right now Chuck (team race engineer Houghton) is going over the data and we are going to make more changes for tomorrow."
The pole position was won by Lawson Aschenbach in the #72 Autohaus Pontiac GXP with a time of 1:25.627. Mid-Ohio is the 8th race of the season for the GT cars and Aschenbach was the 8th pole winner.
"While we aren't thrilled that the customer cars are beating us right now our goal is to win a championship for Pontiac so we are happy for that," said Reese.
"We'll get a handle on this and we will grind them down in the race," said Reese of tomorrow's race. "I have a lot of confidence in this Banner team and in the world class talent we have in our Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.Rs!"