Mid-Ohio: GM Racing qualifying report

Pontiac Takes Pole Position For EMCO Gears Classic Alex Gurney in Pontiac Fastest in Daytona Prototype Qualifying; Ron Fellows in ...

Pontiac Takes Pole Position For EMCO Gears Classic

Alex Gurney in Pontiac Fastest in Daytona Prototype Qualifying; Ron Fellows in #64 Pontiac GTO.R on Front Row in GT Class

LEXINGTON, Ohio - Pontiac is on the pole position for the latest race in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series and once again, it has been taken by Alex Gurney in the #99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley. Gurney ran his fastest lap with a time of 1:20.395 and an average speed of 101.111 mph. Gurney, son of road racing legend Dan Gurney, is indeed living up to his father's legacy as this is his second pole position in the two qualifying sessions he has driven in.

"Obviously it's great to be on pole again," said Gurney. "The way things go wrong in these sessions - they're so short - that you have to be absolutely flat out from the first lap. That's basically what our plan was and it seemed to work out. I didn't qualify at the last race at Watkins Glen - my teammate Bob Stallings did - but that's two poles in two qualifying sessions for me, and that 's something we're pretty happy about."

The Daytona Prototype (DP) qualifying session was cut short by a fire experienced by the #10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley with Wayne Taylor behind the wheel. Taylor, having noticed smoke, pulled off between turns 2 and 3 to find a fire marshal. Taylor made it safely from the car but it was too badly damaged to repair for tomorrow's race. SunTrust will attempt to ship another car from Riley Technologies' headquarters in Indianapolis for tomorrow's race.

"I think it may have started as an electric fire because I started smelling something in the cockpit," said Taylor. "I looked down in the passenger side and it seemed to be okay but when I came out of turn two I started to decelerate. It was getting very, very hot and I looked down and everything was just completely black. I couldn't see anything. I tried to drive off the road and look for where the fire marshals were and once I got off the track, I battled to get the door open. By the time I got the door open, my radio got jammed inside. Then it was ablaze.

"The fire marshals were there but didn't know where to point the fire extinguishers and they didn't last. The truck came with water and ran out of water. I was running around finding guys with more fire extinguishers. There was just not enough to put the car out."

In the GT class, the new Pontiac GTO.R will be on the front row for tomorrow's 400 km race with road racing regular Ron Fellows behind the wheel. Fellows qualified second fastest in the #64 GTO.R at 1:28.422 behind Ian James in his #22 BMW. Fellows, driving with Paul Edwards (who won with the GTO.R in the last Rolex Series race at Watkins Glen with teammate Jan Magnussen), is filling in for Magnussen who is racing in his native country of Denmark this weekend. Fellows can usually be found behind the wheel of the Corvette C6.R in the American Le Mans Series, where he is competing for his fourth consecutive series driving title this season.

"We got out in the session just a little late," said Fellows. "When I was going to start my first quick lap I was black flagged. We just had one lap to qualify and we had a fairly decent run. I had enough of a gap between myself and the car in front to get a clean lap. The tires weren't quite up to pressure, but it's a pretty good result for Pontiac and I appreciate Paul letting me qualify. Sitting in Paul's and Jan's seat isn't the most comfortable thing for me, so we figured it's easier for me to get out mid-race than for me to get in."

The #65 Pontiac GTO.R shared by Andy Lally and Marc Bunting qualified eighth; they finished a consistent and impressive fourth-place in the last two races.

Pontiac will return to race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. The race will air on Sunday on SPEED TV at 12:00 p.m. EDT.

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Alex Gurney , Paul Edwards , Jan Magnussen , Ron Fellows , Wayne Taylor , Dan Gurney , Ian James , Andy Lally , Marc Bunting , Bob Stallings