With teammate Scott Pruett in Indianapolis trying to qualify for the Brickyard 400, it was up to Max Papis to qualify the No. 01 Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley for Saturday's Rolex Sports Car Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. But it did...
With teammate Scott Pruett in Indianapolis trying to qualify for the Brickyard 400, it was up to Max Papis to qualify the No. 01 Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley for Saturday's Rolex Sports Car Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. But it did not take long for the popular Italian to prove that he was up to the task. Indeed, Papis promptly went out and captured his second pole of the season, setting a new one-lap record in the process.
"We are very, very pleased with the balance in our race car," said Papis, who lapped the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course in 1:19.496 (102.254 mph). "We worked very hard on race setup, but we didn't work that hard with getting the best out of the car. We are pleased with how well we did in qualifying. We are pleased with both cars. With the (team's) No. 02 (car), Jimmy (Morales) is making a lot of progress. As usual, I think it's going to be a very close battle."
Papis's pole is the sixth of the season for both Ganassi Racing and Lexus. After six of 12 races, he and Pruett hold a narrow 11-point lead over the SunTrust Racing duo of Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli in the Daytona Prototype drivers' championship. The Ganassi boys have two wins and two seconds in the last four races. However, Taylor and Angelelli also have two victories this year, including one in the last round at Daytona.
For the third time this season, the SunTrust car will start second. "I was a bit conservative with qualifying because I had just put the car in the gravel in the last practice session," explained Taylor, who qualified .237 seconds behind Papis in his Pontiac Riley. "I knew we had a car for the front row, maybe even the pole. For me, the most important thing is the checkered flag."
Due to an unavoidable schedule conflict, Taylor will share the driving duties Saturday with Emmanuel Collard, who was the team's third driver in the 24 Hours of Daytona and the six-hour race at Mont Tremblant. Mike Borkowski, driving the Speed Source Pontiac Riley, qualified third, followed by Oswaldo Negri Jr. in the Lexus Doran of Michael Shank Racing and Jimmy Morales in the second Ganassi car.
In the GT class, Bill Auberlen claimed his third pole of the season in the PTG BMW M3. Auberlen is co-driving with Justin Marks for the second consecutive race. "This is an odd place," Auberlen said after turning a lap of 1:26.196 (94.306 mph). "We missed practice completely yesterday," Auberlen said. "We unloaded the car out of the trailer today, and we haven't turned a screw on it all day. It's been able to get the pole, it's able to be quite consistent and good in practice." The Orbit Racing Porsche of Jay Policastro was second in class, and Boris Said qualified third in the other PTG BMW M3. Said and Auberlen are currently tied atop the GT class drivers' championship standings.
Wayne Nonnamaker appeared to have captured the SGS class pole, but his Porsche failed post-qualifying inspection. As a result, he will have to start from the back of the 37-car field, while Marc Bunting leads Joe Nonnamaker and Bob Ward to the green flag. Michael Levitas's Porsche, which originally qualified second in class, also failed post-qualifying inspection.
Saturday's race will take the green flag at 5:30 p.m.