Turner Motorsport Earns Grand-Am KONI Challenge Grand Sport, Street Tuner Poles at Mazda Raceway Matt Bell breaks Don Salama's GS track record, then Salama earns ST track mark minutes later MONTEREY, Calif. (May 15, 2009) - Matt Bell won an...
Turner Motorsport Earns Grand-Am KONI Challenge Grand Sport, Street Tuner Poles at Mazda Raceway
Matt Bell breaks Don Salama's GS track record, then Salama earns ST track mark minutes later
MONTEREY, Calif. (May 15, 2009) - Matt Bell won an unprecedented third consecutive pole position in Grand-Am KONI Sport Car Challenge Grand Sport (GS) qualifying Friday, running a Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca track record lap of 1:36.277 (83.683 mph) in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3.
Bell will be joined on the front row for Saturday's race by Dean Martin, who ran a lap of 1:36.583 (83.418 mph). The two-and-a-half hour Verizon Festival of Speed will be televised May 23 on SPEED (noon, ET).
Turner Motorsport swept qualifying, earning the team's KONI Challenge record 27th and 28th class pole positions, with Don Salama winning the Street Tuner (ST) pole with a track record lap of 1:40.283 (80.341 mph) in the team's No. 95 BMW 328i. It gave also gave the team two consecutive poles at Mazda Raceway. Salama won the GS pole for the last appearance for the KONI Challenge here in 2007.
"I was going against the odds, but I did my best and the car was unbelievable," said Bell, who will co-drive with Boris Said for the first time as regular co-driver Bill Auberlen will miss the race due to a schedule conflict. "I think the pole was a combination of these cars being really easy to drive, and I've had the chance to drive here a lot."
Bell had his fastest time on his sixth lap, after Martin set the pace earlier in the session.
"We wish we were on the pole, but starting on the front row is pretty darn good," said Martin, who will co-drive with Ken Wilden. "I just want to keep out of trouble tomorrow, because Ken Wilden is awesome here. If I can give it to him in first or second place, it will be a good race for us."
Jeff Segal was third fastest in the No. 28 HRE Wheels/BRE BMW M3 with a lap of 1:36.773 (83.255 mph). He will be joined on the second row by Duncan Ende, who ran 1:36.859 (83.181 mph) in the No. 39 DigiTrust Group/Adams Polishes Porsche 997 co-driven by Spencer Pumpelly. Ende and Pumpelly won the most recent KONI Challenge race at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
One Lap Good Enough for Salama to Capture Pole
Unhappy that his track record was broken earlier in Grand Sport qualifying, Salama was determined to set a new mark in the Street Tuner session. And he only needed one flying lap to do it.
"When I found out that Matt broke my GS track record, I said I had to get that record back," said Salama, who will co-drive with Will Turner. "So that's what happened in ST. The car was really good. I heard this track had a lot of grip, so we just went out there and put in one flying lap. That's all it took."
The session was shortened when Christian Miller, the co-winner of the last two ST races, slowed as his Compass360 Racing's No. 74 034 Motorsport/Skunk2 Honda Civic Si blew an engine with a couple minutes remaining.
Matt Pritiko put the No. 76 Compass360 Racing Honda Civic co-driven by Travis Walker on the outside of the front row with a lap of 1:41.028 (79.748 mph). The team is coming off an unprecedented podium sweep at New Jersey.
Miller still earned the third-fastest time in the No. 74 Compass360 Racing Honda Civic Si shared by Jamie Holtom, 1:41.236 (79.584 mph). He will be joined in the second row by Andrew Aquilante, who ran a lap of 1:41.469 (79.402 mph) in the No. 111 Subaru Road Racing Team Subaru Legacy co-driven by Kristian Skavnes.
Saturday's two-and-a-half hour race, Round 4 of the 2009 season, takes the green flag at 3 p.m. PT.
News and Notes
- Matt Bell earned his record-setting third KONI Sports Car Challenge pole position in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3. He also won poles at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Thunderbolt Raceway at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
- Bell was the only driver to break the track record, set two years ago by another Turner Motorsport driver, Don Salama.
- This is the third pole of the season for Bell, BMW and Turner Motorsport, which has also extended its overall pole position record to 19 and class pole position record to 27.
- Starting on the outside front row is No. 59 Rehagen Racing Ford Mustang GT driver Dean Martin, who is the only other driver to win a pole this season (Daytona International Speedway).
- Jeff Segal earned his season-best starting position of third in the No. 28 HRE Wheels/BRM BMW M3.
- The top-running Porsche 997 was the No. 39 DigiTrust Group/Adams Polishes machine of Duncan Ende, who earned his first victory at New Jersey with TRG co-driver Spencer Pumpelly, the 2007 GS co-winner at Mazda Raceway.
- Andrew Caddell earned his career-best fifth-place starting finish in the No. 54 Jim Click Racing Ford Mustang GT.
- Six drivers were within a second of each other. That sixth-place driver was Bret Seafuse in the No. 37 Trumansburg ShurSave Ford Mustang GT for JBS Motorsports.
- Justin Marks, going for his fourth straight KONI Challenge victory, will see his co-driver Chris Gleason start from ninth in the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3.
- Eighteen cars took times during the GS qualifying session.
- Don Salama earned his first KONI Sports Car Challenge pole position of the 2009 season and seventh career class pole. His last pole came in 2007.
- Salama was one of eight drivers to break the track record, set two years ago by Ken Wilden, the current GS point leader.
- Salama becomes the third driver to win a pole position this season. Andrew Aquilante, fourth quickest, owns two pole positions.
- Matt Pritiko earned a career-best second-place starting position in the No. 76 034 Motorsport/Skunk2 Honda Civic Si.
- Christian Miller, co-winner of the last two KONI Challenge ST races, was third quick in the No. 74 034 Motorsport/Skunk2 Honda Civic Si, but the car's engine expired late in the run. With Miller's car moving to the back, the top four cars are represented by four different manufacturers - BMW, Honda, Subaru and Volkswagen.
- The top-running Volkswagen came from Ian Baas, who qualified the No. 171 APR/BBS Volkswagen GTI from APR Motorsport. His teammate, Mike Sweeney, was fifth in the No. 181 APR/BBS Volkswagen GTI from APR Motorsport.
- Though Salama was faster than Pritiko by only a second, the next seven cars were separated by only eight tenths of a second.
Matt Bell (No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3; polesitter, GS): "These cars are really easy to drive. I think it's a combination of that and the fact that I've had the chance to drive here a lot. I had never been to Homestead-Miami Speedway before, and I only raced at New Jersey Motorsports Park once before. I was going against the odds, but I did my best and the car was absolutely phenomenal, with help from Boris Said to set it up.
"We put our heads together and figured out what needed to happen. We went out and the car was phenomenal. My second lap put me up to the front. It wasn't that good of a lap, but it would have been fastest yesterday or in the early session today. I went pretty far down the scoreboard for a couple of laps. It was a little tense, but I had to concentrate and think about what I had to do to drive the car the way it's set up now.
Dean Martin (No. 59 Rehagen Racing Ford Mustang GT; second, GS): "We're happy with it. We wish we were on the pole, but starting on the front row is pretty darn good. My third lap was my best. I laid back on my first lap, and as the tires started coming in and I started getting in a rhythm with the car, I put in two really good laps. We just want to keep it out of trouble. Kenny Wilden is awesome here. If I can give it to him in first or second place, it will be a good race for us."
Jeff Segal (No. 28 HRE Wheels/BRM BMW M3; fourth, GS): "The track's been getting better and better all day and we've been working on the car. It's a pretty good car that Fall-Line built so we're still at the beginning of the development curve. We keep finding time every time out so qualifying we knew we'd be up at the front. I didn't think we could do the time that I did so the track definitely was better. I think we'll be good in the race tomorrow. A couple of cars in front of us have a little more speed than we do but we'll stick around and see what happens."
Duncan Ende (No. 39 DigiTrust Group/Adams Polishes Porsche 997): "The track surface was not too greasy for being this late in the day. There was sand all over the place. People had problems keeping on the black stuff. I know this is California and people want to go to the beach but this isn't where I'd like them to have their time in the sand. We had a pretty good stint; qualified in the second row which is good - anytime you have to go to tech after qualifying. It means your performance is a good thing, I think. I think we could have had a spot in the front row. My second to last lap I really had a good flyer going then had someone kick a bunch of sand on the track and scuttled that effort. Second row is still a good spot. It's going to be a long race tomorrow. It will be interesting with the ST cars out there. We're way, way down on power with all these V8s and even the six cylinders. So it's going to be really tough especially with these hills but we'll give it our best and have a good race."
Don Salama (No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW 328i; polesitter, ST): "When I found out that Matt (Bell) broke my GS track record, I said I had to get that record back. So that's what happened in ST. The car was really good. This track changes a lot. I heard that the track had a lot of grip, so we just went out there and put in one flying lap. That's all it took. The car was lousy was New Jersey Motorsports Park, and we continue to develop it. However, the BMWs are really hooked up at this track. They are usually good for one lap. Since the track changes a lot, so does the car. We'll see. We're starting at the right end."
Matt Pritiko (No. 76 034 Motorsport/Skunk2 Honda Civic Si; second, ST): "Actually, I had a great flying lap. We've just been fast all weekend. I knew if we got out (early) and got a good lap we'd get a good lap. And we put it on the front row. It's going to be a long race and be very hard on our brakes. I've just got to keep the car clean for my friend Travis Walker. I think we've got another shot at the podium; two in a row."
Christian Miller (No. 74 034 Motorsport/Skunk2 Honda Civic Si; third, ST): "I didn't mean to do that (bring out the checker early). We had a good run going so we went back out to see if we could give it one more run at it and I don't know exactly what happened but obviously lots of smoke coming out the back and oil on the ground. We'll take it back and get it good for tomorrow. I don't know if we'll keep our qualifying spot or not but we'll have it running for tomorrow."
Andrew Aquilante (No. 111 Subaru Road Racing Team Subaru Legacy; fourth, ST): "We were basically fighting for second. This is the first time I've ever been here and it's a cool track. The car ran well; the 4-wheel drive loved the 'Corkscrew.' I don't know. We tried as hard as we could. The black flag there at the end might have cost us a chance at the front row, but it would have been a stretch anyway. We can't complain with what we have."