FORD RACING CLAIMS POLE FOR KONI RACE; QUALIFIES THIRD FOR 24 HOURS * Dean Martin, co-driver of the No. 59 Rehagen Racing Mustang FR500C with Ken Wilden, earned the pole for Friday's Fresh From Florida 200 at Daytona International Speedway. *...
FORD RACING CLAIMS POLE FOR KONI RACE; QUALIFIES THIRD FOR 24 HOURS
* Dean Martin, co-driver of the No. 59 Rehagen Racing Mustang FR500C with Ken Wilden, earned the pole for Friday's Fresh From Florida 200 at Daytona International Speedway.
* Michael Valiante, co-driver of the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley led all Ford-powered Daytona Prototypes by earning the No. 3 qualifying position for the 24-hour race.
DAYTONA BEACH, FL, (January 22, 2009) -- Magic. That's the word Dean Martin used to describe his qualifying lap around Daytona International Speedway.
The co-driver of the No. 59 Rehagen Racing Mustang FR500C claimed the top spot for Friday's season-opening Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series race in Daytona, with a quick lap that even surprised the optimistic driver.
"Getting the pole here in Daytona was our first goal, and of course winning the race tomorrow is our ultimate goal," said Martin. "Our lap out there today was magic. The way our Mustang handled and performed was just perfect. We've worked really hard during the off-season and we want to show everybody that we're the best. I think our team can carry today's success over into tomorrow's race."
Martin will co-drive his No. 59 Mustang FR500C with Ken Wilden during Friday's race, on a track that tends to favor Ford's pony car.
"A Mustang should definitely win and be on the podium tomorrow," continued Martin. "I'll be honest; I was surprised that we went as fast as we did. I never expected to go that fast. We had been fighting the car all day and it wasn't so good, but I told the team not to mess with anything and to see what happens. I figured if I ran a two-minute flat lap, we'd be okay. So when I came by the timing light and it came up as a 1:59.60, I just went, 'Oh my gosh, I'm just going to come in right now.' I was so excited and just really happy for our team."
"We are so excited about Dean and the Rehagen Racing team putting the Mustang on top of the board today," said Jamie Allison, manager Ford Performance Group. "The FR500C is well suited for the Grand-Am KONI Challenge, because it is a production-based road racing series, one of the best in America. We have some of the most credible and highly regarded handling cars in the world on the track and the Mustang has been able to demonstrate its superiority and accomplishment taking on the best of Porsche and BMW. Dean and Rehagen Racing getting the pole is a pretty stout accomplishment for Mustang and we are very proud them and look to continue that success in tomorrow's race."
Over in the Rolex Series garage, Michael Valiante and the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley led for all Ford-powered teams by earning the No. 3 qualifying spot for Saturday's race.
"Since I joined Ford and Michael Shank Racing for this race, racing has really been great," said Valiante. "From the first test I did with the team in November we were quick, and today, being in the top three again just really shows the power of this team. The car has been handling really well and I think we have a great shot for a win on Sunday."
Following right behind the No. 6 on the leader board was the No. 76 Ford Lola of Krohn Racing. Ricardo Zonta posted the fourth quickest time of the qualifying session in Krohn Racing's first race back with Ford power under the hood since the end of the 2006 racing season.
"I am very happy," said Zonta following his qualifying run. "After the few problems we had this morning (went off course in the bus stop avoiding a GT car), I think I need to be very pleased with the team. They managed to get the car ready for qualifying and we had a very good car. I think we are a lot closer than last year. This lap time we worked for was for the race but I'm sure other teams worked for the qualifying time, so I'm very pleased and very happy with the position we are to start."
More Ford Racing Team Quotes:
MAX ANGELELLI -- 10 SUNTRUST FORD RILEY (QUALIFIED 7TH)
"Normally in the past we have put a lot of emphasis on the qualifying, but this year we didn't. Of course I wanted to win the pole, but the sequence just didn't play out for us to win. I do think we have a very good race car and I am really pleased and I am looking forward to the race."
WAYNE TAYLOR -- 10 SUNTRUST FORD RILEY -- (Team Owner, Driver)
"Obviously everyone wants to get pole. However, it is a 24-hour [race] and Max did a P7. He only had five laps in qualifying and he said the car was getting better and better so we think we have a really good race car. Now, we just need to concentrate on getting all the systems worked out and make sure we run a clean race. We aren't focused on being the fastest car out there, because we know that we have a good car. In order to win this race you need a car that is easy to drive for the drivers and the fastest car doesn't necessarily win the race."
-credit: ford racing