Millville: Banner Racing qualifying report

Collins Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R wins Pole Position for Rolex Grand-Am race at Thunderbolt Raceway in New Jersey Millville New Jersey (Saturday, May 2, 2009): Kelly Collins qualified the ...

Collins Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R wins Pole Position for Rolex Grand-Am race at Thunderbolt Raceway in New Jersey

Millville New Jersey (Saturday, May 2, 2009): Kelly Collins qualified the #07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R for the pole position today for Sunday's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 race at Thunderbolt Raceway at the New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville New Jersey. Collins recorded a best lap of 1:21.369 to win the first pole position for the Banner Racing team since Homestead Park early in 2008.

Kelly Collins, of Newport Beach California, had to wait for his tire temperatures to come up before setting his initial fast lap on lap 4 which turned out to be his best of the day. His time edged out the #57 Stevenson Pontiac GXP.R of Andrew Davis by 7 hundredths of a second making it an all Pontiac front row for GT.

"We started off on some lower tire pressures and they didn't come up to temperature because of the cool air temperatures here in New Jersey and I did three laps at a slower speed trying to get the tires up to their ambient temperatures," said Kelly Collins. "The first time I went for it that was my best lap because that was when I had my optimum grip. After that lap I settled into some laps that would be considered as cooling my tires but I am not sure that my tires were ever so hot that I actually had to do that."

Collins tried to improve his beat lap but couldn't best his lap 4 time.

"The way qualifying usually works you can sit there and chill, circulating the track and burn down some fuel and cool the tires, and use them hard again at the end of the session to try to improve your time," said Collins. "But that wasn't the case today because the fastest laps we did were the first laps we did. Everything I did after that was within 5 to 7 tenths but the car was starting to slide around and I lost a little of my grip."

"This is our first pole since Homestead early in the 2008 season," said team owner Leighton Reese. "I think it is a very positive thing for our team but more importantly is starts us further up front and improves our chances of scoring championship points because that is our main focus right now. Repeating a championship for Pontiac and for Kelly [Collins] and Paul [Edwards] was our goal when we started the season and winning poles and races juts sweetens the deal."

"Winning the pole is important for team morale and team spirit and it is important because tomorrow there is an 80 percent chance of rain and I was motivated to qualify our Pontiac as far up front as I possibly could to free myself from whatever might happen back in the pact at the beginning of the race," said Collins. "Leighton Reese Performance Group and Pontiac are very happy because it is a Pontiac front row. Some tracks suit the Mazdas and Porsches better but this Thunderbolt track suits the Pontiac GXP.R. That is the way the competitive ball bounces right now."

-credit: br

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Kelly Collins , Leighton Reese , Andrew Davis