Sears Point: GM Racing qualifying report

SunTrust Pontiac To Start On Front Row At Infineon Krohn Racing Pontiac to start fourth Sonoma, Calif., August 22, 2008 -- The No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Daytona Prototype (DP) driven by Michael Valiante will start second for tomorrow's round 12 of...

SunTrust Pontiac To Start On Front Row At Infineon
Krohn Racing Pontiac to start fourth

Sonoma, Calif., August 22, 2008 -- The No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Daytona Prototype (DP) driven by Michael Valiante will start second for tomorrow's round 12 of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 to be run at Infineon Raceway. The No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola will start from the second row.

- Pontiac leads manufacturer DP points chase
- GAINSCO Pontiac drivers Gurney and Fogarty top Pontiac DP team second in points
- GAINSCO defending Infineon winners
- Cheever Racing Coyote receives suspension updates

The 2.47-mile, 12-turn Infineon road course located at the gateway to Sonoma's wine country is a real handling track. The SunTrust Pontiac nearly had the measure of the field. Valiante had the qualifying duties and was well on his way to pole position with a time of 1:25.957, before being eclipsed late in the session. Valiante is teamed with 2005 series champion Max Angelelli. The duo is still looking for the team's first win of the season with their new Dallara chassis.

"I was surprised by how quick we went because it was a lot quicker than we went in practice," said Valiante. "I pushed as hard as I could to try and catch Brian [Frisselle, pole sitter] but he did a pretty good job to get that time out of his car. I think we have a great car for this race because it's consistent. I think we can win this race."

Nic Jonsson qualified the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola in fourth with a time of 1:26.745. Jonsson and teammate Ricardo Zonta have been front runners most of the season as the team gets their arms around the new Lola chassis. The duo has combined to lead 76 laps on the season, but lack the most important lap led, the final circuit.

"Today was one of our best qualifying effort this year," Jonsson said. "Ricardo qualified third at Barber and this was a fourth place today, so it was the second-best qualifying we had all year. I think we are closer. Obviously we were quickest this morning in practice and we were fourth quick yesterday. I think we've consistently been faster this week than we've been through the whole season. It shows we are making progress. We also know this type of track suits this car better. I don't think we have been this close to the top guys before. That makes me feel very good for tomorrow. I know we have a very solid, consistent race car. I think I did three or four laps in the high 26's. That's what it's going to take to be able to win here. I have very big hopes for tomorrow. I think we have to do a few small, fine-tuning things for tomorrow's race. I'm pretty pleased with our qualifying performance, not as much the position, but I think it was all we could do today. We need to just make sure we have the consistency of the car for tomorrow. We're going to be up there fighting for it all day and hopefully we'll be up there on the podium."

GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing driver Jon Fogarty put in a lap of 1:26.790 and will start from the third row. Fogarty, a Californian and veteran of the Infineon circuit, experienced push issues with the front of their Pontiac Riley which affected the qualifying time. The team is in a must win situation to keep within reach of defending their 2007 championship. Teammate Alex Gurney will finish the race in the red 99.

"We've been searching a little bit all weekend," Fogarty said. "A fifth-place qualifying effort isn't totally unexpected in the context of this weekend, although it is definitely not what we anticipated coming into here. This has historically been a good track for us, but we will keep working at it. We're fortunate to have a half hour practice before the race tomorrow and we will try a couple of more things."

Riley-Matthews team principle Jim Matthews was at the wheel of the No. 91 Pontiac Riley. Matthews also had an ill handling car that will have him starting in 14th with a time of 1:29.077. Matthews shares the Mexico City winning entry with Marc Goossens.

"The car was real pushy," Matthews said. "We are lacking some front grip and there are a lot of turns on this track so that really takes its toll on the time sheet. I like running here, but unfortunately the timing sheet does not reflect that fact."

Tracy Krohn drove the No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola to a 16th place qualifying effort with a time of 1:29.485. Krohn and teammate Eric van de Poele will be looking to make up ground early in tomorrow's two-hour-and-forty-five-minute race.

""The car is better," Krohn said. "I think we learned some things in the last few days about the car. Nic had a really good run as well. We had a very close set-up to what they had. I think this car is ready to race. It was nice to get out there and have a little fun with it. We've been battling some brake issues so it was nice to get out there and drive and not have to worry about whether your brakes are going to work or not. Stopping is essential! The car actually transitioned very well. I picked up a little bit on the back esses so that helped a lot."

Cheever Racing was not able to put their No. 16 Coyote Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Pontiac on the track for qualifying today. The crew is busy working on an interference problem between the transmission and the Pontiac LS2 engine. Christian Fittipaldi and Antonio Garcia will be ready to drive their Coyote Pontiac in tomorrow's race, but will have to start from the back of the grid. The duo have been showing a lot of competitiveness since Fittipaldi joined the team in Montreal, posting a second place finish in Canada backed-up by a sixth at Watkins Glen two weeks ago.

The Armed Forces 250 from Infineon will be televised, tape delayed, Sunday, August 24 on the SPEED Channel at 12:00 p.m. ET.

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams Krohn Racing