Magnussen Scores First-Career Rolex Series Pole for Saturday's Sonoma 250 at Infineon Raceway SONOMA, Calif. (August 25, 2006) -- Denmark's Jan Magnussen logged a qualifying-best lap time of 1:28.234 (102.818 mph) in the No. 10 SunTrust...
Magnussen Scores First-Career Rolex Series Pole for Saturday's Sonoma 250 at Infineon Raceway
SONOMA, Calif. (August 25, 2006) -- Denmark's Jan Magnussen logged a qualifying-best lap time of 1:28.234 (102.818 mph) in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley to score the pole position for Saturday afternoon's Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Sonoma 250 at Infineon Raceway (SPEED, August 27 at 3:00 p.m. ET), with the hopes of keeping the championship aspirations alive for co-driver Max Angelelli.
Daytona Prototype points leader Jorg Bergmeister was on the point for most of the 15-minute group qualifying session in the No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Riley, but Magnussen unseated the German late in the period to take the pole. It is the first career pole for Magnussen, who scored his only victory of the season with Angelelli in May's U.S. Sports Car Invitational at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Angelelli currently sits 29 points behind Bergmeister in the current driver standings, 415-386, with only two races remaining on the schedule.
"I'm very happy to be on pole," said Magnussen. "The most important thing is for the team to get the points and for Max to get points to catch Jorg. I will push hard at the beginning of the race and stay out of trouble, and try to give the car to Max will a chance to finish well. It's the most fun I've had here in all the cars that I've been in. The car is definitely set up well for this track and it's been fun the last couple of days here."
Bergmeister will start from the outside of the front row after his qualifying effort of 1:28.550 (102.451 mph). In a strategy move by the Krohn Racing team, Bergmeister qualified the No. 76 machine for the first time this season. Per Rolex Series rules, a driver must drive under green flag conditions to earn points during a race weekend. Bergmeister is sharing the machine this weekend with Nic Jonsson.
"It's definitely a goal to win the championship," said Bergmeister. "These guys are not making it easy, pushing me really hard these last few races. It's weird for me to the do qualifying because I usually finish the race, but I'll be starting the race tomorrow and definitely be looking forward to it. The team decided to start me for the points and Nic is used to finish the races, so I'm sure it will be fine."
Patrick Long qualified third in the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford with a time of 1:28.554 (102.446 mph). Long and co-driver Mike Rockenfeller come into the Sonoma 250 weekend riding a three-race stretch of podium finishes, including a runner-up finish in June's Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway and third-place runs in the Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant at Barber Motorsports Park and Crown Royal 200 at The Glen.
Mexican star Luis Diaz posted the fourth-best qualifying time of the session in the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley with a lap at 1:28.798 (102.164 mph). Diaz and co-driver Scott Pruett are still mathematically eligible to win the 2006 Daytona Prototype championship, currently sitting just three points in arrears of Angelelli.
No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley co-driver Jon Fogarty rounded out the top five with a lap time of 1:28.874 (102.077 mph). Fogarty and teammate Alex Gurney have posted five top-five finishes in the last seven Rolex Series races, but the duo is still searching for an elusive breakthrough victory.
The Daytona Prototype and GT machines will take to the track for a Saturday morning warm-up session at 8:45 a.m. local time, with the green flag scheduled to drop for the Sonoma 250 at approximately 3:00 p.m.
LIDDELL PUTS NO. 72 NEC PORSCHE GT3 ON SONOMA 250 GT CLASS POLE
Scotland's Robin Liddell posted a GT class qualifying-best lap time of 1:38.425 (92.172 mph) Friday afternoon in the No. 72 NEC Porsche GT3 and will start from the class pole position in Saturday's Sonoma 250 at Infineon Raceway.
Liddell's time came late in the 15-minute group session, and with the time, logged his first-career Rolex Series pole. Liddell and co-driver Wolf Henzler have scored three class victories this season, including the last trip to Northern California, in the U.S. Sports Car Invitational at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May. The No. 72 duo currently sits 11 points in arrears of No. 65 TRG/F1 Air Pontiac GTO.R co-drivers Marc Bunting and Andy Lally in the current driver point standings, 442-431, with just two races remaining on the 2006 schedule.
"The most important thing today was that I was into the wall this morning," said Liddell. "When you're in a situation like that, you want to do something special for all the guys that worked all day. We missed the afternoon session and went into qualifying without knowing what was underneath me. I got some space and went back on pole again, and was able to lower my time. I was really happy about that. The points are real close, so we can still win the championship."
Kelly Collins qualified second in the No. 64 TRG/iRise Pontiac GTO.R with a lap time of 1:38.575 (92.031 mph). Collins and teammate Paul Edwards have scored three victories this season, at Mexico City, Homestead-Miami Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway. Collins and Edwards are just 28 points behind the No. 72 tandem in the championship fight.
American hotshoe Joey Hand posted the third-best qualifying time in the No. 21 Bankers Express Mortgage BMW M3 with a lap time of 1:38.649 (91.962 mph). Hand put the No. 21 Matt Connolly Motorsports machine on the pole last time he was in the car, in June's EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Qualifying fourth was Burt Frisselle in the No. 98 Ironclad Pontiac GTO.R for Pacific Coast Motorsports with a time of 1:38.935 (91.697 mph), followed by David Murry at 1:39.011 (91.626 mph) in the No. 80 Shoes For Crews Porsche GT3.