Banner Pontiacs qualify 1st and 2nd for Mid-Ohio Rolex Grand-Am GT race Lexington Ohio (June 23, 2007): It will be an all Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R front row for the EMCO Gears GT Classic at Mid-Ohio as Kelly Collins and Leighton Reese ...
Banner Pontiacs qualify 1st and 2nd for Mid-Ohio Rolex Grand-Am GT race
Lexington Ohio (June 23, 2007): It will be an all Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R front row for the EMCO Gears GT Classic at Mid-Ohio as Kelly Collins and Leighton Reese played a waiting game during qualifying and used late session runs to blast their Banner GXP.Rs onto the front row for Sunday's Rolex-Grand Am GT race.
Collins won the pole position with a record shattering lap time of 1:25.329 on his 6th lap around the 2.258 mile 13-turn road racing track while Reese set his fastest lap of 1:25.551 on his final lap after a mid session stop in the pits to cool his tires.
"The Banner Pontiac GXP was awesome today," Kelly Collins said. "We had a little bit of looseness there at the end so I couldn't match my best laps I had in the last 7 or 8 laps but other than that it was a fantastic run.
"It was a great day for Pontiac with Leighton moving up on the front row with me."
"We got a Banner Pontiac 1-2," said an elated Leighton Reese after his qualifying run. "I told the crew I would buy them all a steak dinner if we won the pole and we got both Banner Pontiacs on the front row! You couldn't ask for anything better than this!"
"It is going to be so cool to see both Banner Pontiac GXPs leading the GT only field for the start of tomorrow's race," said Collins' co-driver Paul Edwards.
Kelly Collins, of Newport Beach California, was initially 2nd after an opening lap of 1:25.776 and later 3rd on the grid as Kelly used his 3rd and 4th lap of the track to cool his Hoosier tires and find an open part of the track.
"The traffic was an issue," said Collins of his session. "It was so hard finding a good spot on the track and be able to run without catching people. And then you would have to decide do I throw out this lap and come into the pits and go back out and try again or do I fall back and find a gap. It can be very frustrating." On his 5th tour of the Mid-Ohio track in his #07 Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R Collins clocked in with a 25.686 only a tenth off the pole time but when Collins completed lap 6 the race for the pole was over as Kelly dropped his time again to claim the pole position.
"On my best lap I passed a car in the Keyhole. I'm really happy with the car but we are going to work on the setup of the car for the race and get the car to settle down a little bit and hopefully we will be good for the race."
Leighton Reese of Minnetonka Minnesota used a different strategy as he pitted mid-session after his lap of 1:26.068 on lap 4 had the #06 Banner Pontiac GXP.R in the 5th position.
After cooling his tires Reese went back out on the track for a final run at improving his time and he moved from 5th to 3rd on lap 7 with a time of 1:25.612 and jumped onto the front row improving to a 1:25.551 on his final tour of the Mid-Ohio track.
"It was a great call by my engineer Kyle Millay to bring the car into the pits and let the tires cool," Reese said of his qualifying run. "We went back out and we needed a little break in the traffic and we got it. I went back out and went from P5 to P3 and then Joe (crew chief Kantarik) told me to do another one just like that one and I really heated it through Madness and the turns 7, 8, 9 and 10 complex and was able to put the 06 Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP on the front row!"
"I couldn't be happier for Banner Engineering and for Pontiac. This is just awesome and a big morale boost for the entire team," Leighton Reese concluded of his Banner Racing Team's stellar qualifying runs on Saturday at Mid-Ohio. "I didn't know that Kelly had the pole, they don't tell me that kind of stuff (over the radio)."
The #07 Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R driven by Collins and Paul Edwards, of Fort Collins Colorado, and the #06 Banner Pontiac of Reese and Tim Lewis Jr., of Boca Raton Florida, will start the EMCO Gears GT Classic at Mid-Ohio or Round 8 of the GT class of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve on Sunday at approximately 11:00 AM Eastern Time.
The EMCO Gears GT Classic will be broadcast on SPEED TV on a 1 hour tape delay at 12 noon Eastern Time or can be followed via live timing or via Internet web broadcast which is available on www.Grand-Am.com