SCC: Watkins Glen: Qualifying report

Long Earns Pole Position For Saturday's Grand-Am KONI Challenge Supercuts 200 at The Glen WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (July 6, 2007) -- In a shortened qualifying session Friday at Watkins Glen International, Tom Long in the No. 99 Automatic Racing Fresh...

Long Earns Pole Position For Saturday's Grand-Am KONI Challenge Supercuts 200 at The Glen

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (July 6, 2007) -- In a shortened qualifying session Friday at Watkins Glen International, Tom Long in the No. 99 Automatic Racing Fresh From Florida/Imported Car Store BMW M3 turned in a record time of 2:05.134 for the Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport (GS) division and will lead the GS and Street Tuner (ST) cars to the green flag in Saturday's Supercuts 200 at The Glen.

Long broke Justin Marks's two-year record of 2:05.600 -- the only driver to break the GS mark -- and was more than a half-second faster than fellow front row starter Don Salama, who turned in a time of 2:05.636 in the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3. Long will co-drive the No. 99 BMW with David Russell in the three-hour race, which begins at 3:30 p.m. The pair finished a season-best fifth last month at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

"The Fresh From Florida BMW M3 was awesome today," Long said. "Matt Buckley and Joe Varde did a great job setting the car up for this weekend. We've been on the front row so many times this year but never had the taste of a pole, and now, finally, we've got it. It's exciting to be at Watkins Glen -- what a beautiful track. We couldn't be more exciting heading into tomorrow's race. It's going to be interesting with the ST cars running with us. This is only the second time this year that this has happened. It's going to be a fight managing traffic and staying out of trouble. We've never won a race, but we've come close a lot. Hopefully, tomorrow will be the first one."

Salama, who will share the controls of the No. 97 BMW with team owner Will Turner, is hoping the track will provide the team's best result of 2007. The pair's best finish to date was eighth at Iowa Speedway.

"We made the decision to go on sticker tires, and I knew after turning three corners that the stickers were going to need three laps to get bedded in," Salama said. "At some tracks, that's not true, but it's now true for this track. I know Tom Long ran on used tires, and that was smart for him. So I only got one flying lap before the black flag ended the session, so I didn't have a shot at putting the pole lap in. But that's OK. We'll take a front row. That's the right place to start. We're in great shape for the race. The car's handling well, we'll tweak it a little tomorrow morning to work on a push, but it's going to be a great car for us."

Following the front row starters will be Serge Glazunov Jr. in the No. 90 Automatic Racing Weeden Consultants/Imported Car Store BMW M3 (2:05.747; co-driving with Jon Miller); series points leader Joe Foster in the No. 55 Hyper Sport Supercuts Ford Mustang GT (2:06.217; co-driving with Scott Maxwell) and Duncan Ende in the No. 39 TRG Carlsen Porsche/DigiTrust Group Porsche 997 (2:06.217; co-driving with Grant Maiham).

No. 09 Automatic Racing Fresh From Florida/Engine Studios BMW M3 drivers Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal -- tied for second in points -- failed to yield to the black flag that essentially ended the qualifying session and had their top time disallowed.

John Schmitt emulated what co-driver Shane Lewis did in practice, setting the fastest time in qualifying for the Street Tuner (ST) session in the No. 22 HART Red Line Oil/Honda of America Honda Accord with a time of 2:12.507, less than a

"That's my first pole position in quite a while," Schmitt said. "Shane Lewis gave me a lot of help reviewing videotape, and it helped. I figured it out. We've worked on this car since Mid-Ohio, where he took a pretty good hit two weeks ago. We've got the car all straightened out. This track is pretty good for our car. It's a pretty good feeling to be back on the pole. If we keep from getting hit tomorrow, hopefully, I'll save as much in the car as I can for Shane and let him do the work at the end."

Starting alongside Schmitt will be Aaron Povoledo in the No. 75 Kensai Racing Brakes Acura TSX. Povoledo, who lapped the track at 2:12.859, will start the car and turn it over to Beau Buisson in the race.

"I guess it's a good day when you're angry at yourself after finishing second in qualifying," said Povoledo, who also put the car on the front row at Mid-Ohio. "I knew we had a car for the pole. I didn't have a clean lap. In fact, on the lap that put me second I spent four corners behind a real slow car and had to pass him on the inside. I can't tell you how great it feels for Kensai Racing to bring me back here. Two weeks ago, they brought me back to run in the KONI Challenge at Mid-Ohio, and that's my favorite series. It's a pleasure to be back. I didn't expect to be back until two days ago. I was late for practice yesterday and was quickest by three-tenths of a second. That's a testimony to how great Kensai Racing/Compass360 sets up a race car."

Rounding out the top five were series points co-leader Adam Burrows in the No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW 330i (2:12.879; co-driving fellow points co-leader Trevor Hopwood), Leo Maia in the No. 86 Classic BMW -- Plano BMW Z4 (2:13.011; co-driving with Toby Grahovec) and Juan Leroux in the No. 174 LRT Racing Mobil 1/Durex Condoms Acura TSX (2:13.121; co-driving with brother Jorge Leroux). Karl Thomson, who is tied for third in the points with Billy Johnson, will start sixth in Saturday's race in the No. 76 Kensai Racing Brakes Acura TSX. The pair owns a series-high three victories in 2007.

The Supercuts 200 at The Glen will take the green flag at 3:30 p.m. Saturday and mark only the second time this season the GS and ST classes will compete in the same race.

-credit: garra

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Shane Lewis , Scott Maxwell , Justin Marks , Will Turner , John Schmitt , Tom Long , Toby Grahovec , Don Salama , Jep Thornton , Aaron Povoledo , Jeff Segal , Joe Varde , Karl Thomson , Billy Johnson , Duncan Ende , Trevor Hopwood , Adam Burrows , Juan Leroux , Jorge Leroux , Serge Glazunov Jr. , Jon Miller , David Russell
Teams Turner Motorsport , Automatic Racing , LRT Racing , HART