Papis takes VIR pole

Ganassi Racing's Max Papis shattered the one-lap Daytona Prototype qualifying record at the Virginia International Raceway Saturday by almost two seconds to grab the pole for the Rolex Sports Car Series VIR 400 presented by SunTrust. In doing so,...

Ganassi Racing's Max Papis shattered the one-lap Daytona Prototype qualifying record at the Virginia International Raceway Saturday by almost two seconds to grab the pole for the Rolex Sports Car Series VIR 400 presented by SunTrust. In doing so, Papis lapped the bucolic 3.27-mile, 17-turn course in 1:45.447, .763 seconds faster than Wayne Taylor's SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley.

"Today was mainly a great team effort," Papis said after notching his fifth pole of the season behind the wheel of the No. 01 Lexus Riley. "We came over here with one focus, and that was getting a very fast race car with a race pace. We didn't focus much on qualifying, and still qualifying was awesome. It's always a psychological advantage to start on the pole position, and I'm glad all the field knows where we stand."

Papis and co-driver Scott Pruett have an eight-point lead over Taylor in the Daytona Prototype drivers' championship with three races remaining in the 12-race season.

Taylor will start on the outside of the front row for the fourth time this year. "We wanted to get out first so we'd be ahead of the traffic," Taylor said of his qualifying strategy. "Being the first car out today meant we were the first to hit the oil spots left from the previous qualifying classes, so I'm afraid I was not that effective. The front row is a good place to start though, but it only counts at the checkered flag."

Oswaldo Negri, driving the Michael Shank Racing Lexus Doran, qualified third followed by the No. 54 Bell Motorsports Pontiac Doran of Christian Fittipaldi and the No. 58 Brumos Porsche Fabcar of Darren Law, who was involved in a violent wreck two weeks ago at the Homestead Miami Speedway.

"To be honest, I was hoping for more," Negri said. "I knew we had more car. I was very unlucky in traffic. I had to back off on two laps. I just think we could have been on the front row."

Eighteen-year-old Tom Milner out-qualified both of his more experienced teammates, Bill Auberlen and Boris Said, to claim the GT class pole in the No. 16 Team PTG BMW M3. Milner, son of renowned BMW entrant Tom Milner, turned a lap of 1:54.821. "I followed Boris and Bill for the first two laps of the session to watch their lines," Milner said after his first professional pole. "I am feeling more comfortable in the M3 and am getting better at left foot braking. I tried my best and everything went very well, but this is unbelievable."

Said qualified second, .035 seconds behind Milner. "I only did two laps to save the tires for the race," Said explained. "Congratulations to Tom on the pole." The No. 33 Maserati of Joao Barbosa rounded out the top-three in GT. Auberlen, who holds a tenuous one-point lead over Said in the GT drivers' championship, will start fourth in class. "We are struggling a little," Auberlen said. "From the first session yesterday we have been fighting an understeer and have not yet corrected it."

Michael Levitas, driving the No. 36 TPC Racing Porsche, captured the SGS class pole in 2:00.358. The second TPC Racing Porsche of Marc Bunting qualified second, followed by Cory Friedman in the Autometrics Motorsports Porsche. Bunting and teammate Andy Lally currently have a 16-point lead over Levitas in the SGS drivers' championship.

Sunday's race will take the green flag 12 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on the SPEED Channel.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Boris Said , Max Papis , Scott Pruett , Bill Auberlen , Andy Lally , Darren Law , Joao Barbosa , Michael Levitas , Cory Friedman , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Michael Shank
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Michael Shank Racing