Utah: GM Racing qualifying report

Krohn Pontiac on Pole at Miller for Grand-Am Finale; Championship leading Banner Pontiac to start fourth in GT Tooele, Utah, September 19, 2008 -- Ricardo Zonta drove the Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola to pole position for tomorrow's season ...

Krohn Pontiac on Pole at Miller for Grand-Am Finale; Championship leading Banner Pontiac to start fourth in GT

Tooele, Utah, September 19, 2008 -- Ricardo Zonta drove the Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola to pole position for tomorrow's season finale Grand-Am Rolex Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Sunrichgourmet.com 1000k to be run at Miller Motorsports Park. Paul Edwards and Kelly Collins will start fourth in their Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R in their quest for the GT championship.

Pontiac leads manufacturer DP points chase
Collins and Edwards lead GT points
Liddell and Davis third in GT points
Pontiac leads manufacturer standings in GT
Collins and Edwards start fourth
Davis and Liddell to start 10th

Miller Motorsports Park holds the distinction as being the longest road course in the United States at 4.486-miles and 24-turns. The long course suited the No. 76 Krohn Pontiac as Ricardo Zonta posted a pole position time of 2:35.664. The pole is the first for the team and their new Lola Daytona Prototype (DP).

"I'm very happy especially because it's the last race," Zonta said. "This whole season with all the good results and bad situations, I think this pole position is the result of all the hard work from the team. The beginning of qualifying was very slippery because of the rain, a little bit of rain. On a few corners I had to use very heavy braking. Every lap was getting better and better. My last lap was perfect with no mistakes and the car was very good. I think we had a perfect car for that moment. The other cars are going to be strong on the straights. We will have to hold them off. I'm quite confident the balance of the car will be very good. I think we can keep nearly the same balance we had in qualifying for the race. We should be very strong. There is still a lot of room to improve the car for next year. We know there20are some parts we can improve. We need to make a big change from Lola. We know that these parts can make a big difference."

Max Angelelli drove the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Dallara to a fourth place qualifying effort with a time of 2:36.001. Angelelli and teammate Michael Valiante have made a late season run to the top five in the series standings. If everything falls into place, they could finish the season third in the points following a tumultuous season.

"After practice this morning, I had the distinct feeling that we could make the pole," Angelelli said. "We ended up fourth today, so I'm not pleased. I want to look at some data, look at the way I drove, and I will have a better idea about what we need to do for the race. Definitely, we need to change some things for the race. I'm not quite happy, yet."

The Cheever Racing Pontiac Coyote driven by Antonio Garcia will start from the sixth position with a time of 2:36.888. Garcia and teammate Christian Fittipaldi have spent the season developing the new Coyote. Fabio Babini joins the team as a third driver for the race.

"Not bad after the practices that we have had," Garcia said. "We had some problems in practice and we missed half of the session this morning. That is hard when you are trying to set the car up for a long track like this and get seat time for three different drivers. I think I would have had a low 36 in the car, but I am pretty happy with the third row. We are not far off."

Alex Gurney qualified the No. 99 GAINSCO Pontiac in seventh putting in a time of 2:36.908. Gurney has only qualified the car three times this year and each has had its own set of drama. Gurney and Jon Fogarty are second in the DP points standings are looking to finish the season strong.

"I'm really disappointed," said Gurney. "We made a change after this morning's practice and maybe it didn't help. The biggest problem was that it was raining for the guys who went out at the very beginning, and it was just starting to stop when I was starting my second lap. Really, your second lap is your best run on the tires, but I was still sliding around a bit. On my next lap, I was just pushing too hard trying to make it up and I grabbed too much curb and spun it. I went up into the dirt and that was it. Qualifying, unless you're on the pole, doesn't matter that much. It's a six or seven hour race, we have got a long way to go and we have a warm-up to make more changes. We will be in good shape."

In the No. 91 Riley-Matthews Pontiac, Jim Matthews put in a time of 2:41.397 that will see him start form the seventh row. Matthews, Marc Goossens and IRL driver Ryan Hunter-Reay are the defending race winners.

"I have been doing setup stuff for most of the day," Hunter-Reay said. "I have to recalibrate myself a little bit with the Riley compared to my IRL car. Things happen just a little bit slower. There is great talent in the race and this is a nice way to close out the season. We won here last year, so we will be doing everything we can to defend that win tomorrow."

The No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola for team owner Tracy Krohn, Eric van de Poele and hired gun Boris Said spent the session in the paddock going through a pre race engine change. For team owner Krohn it has been a trying week as he had to manage the results of hurricane Ike on his oil business in the Gulf.

"It was really one for the good guys today," Krohn said. "After all the aggravation we've had in the past couple of weeks for W&T Offshore / WTI (Tracy's oil and gas exploration and production company based in Houston, Texas), regarding hurricanes and what not. We had a couple of platforms topple over and had people scattered out for a few days. I was dubious about even being able to get here this week because of all the stuff surrounding the hurricanes. But, like they've done in the past, everybody gathered it up and we're back to work. We don't have all the production back on line yet but we're getting there. To come out here and have Ricardo put it on the pole is fantastic. We've been knocking on the pole for several races and it was about time. It was really gratifying. Ricardo did a superlative job. Unfortunately with my car we didn't qualify today. We had an oil leak around the crank shaft, so we decided we needed to change the motor. We've got the field boxed in from the front to the back for tomorrow's race. That's the way we're going to start."

In GT the qualifying session was run under changing conditions. Rain began to fall as the production based cars hit the track. The early times were slower than practice due to the changing conditions. Then in the waning moments of the session the track dried and the cars that were on back of the lap coming to the checker benefitted from a dry track and posted the fastest times.

Paul Edwards was the top qualifying Pontiac GXP.R driver with a time of 2:55.323 that will see him start fourth. Edwards and Kelly Collins lead the GT points championship by five. There closest pursuer is the No. 57 Stevenson Pontiac of Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis who will start tenth. The only other car mathematically in the championship is the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 which will start fifth.

"I spent the first lap bedding pads and brake discs," Edwards said. "On the second fast lap I was behind the 72 and then the rain started, I got sideways, the 72 almost went off and then it got exciting. The rain stopped and it went dry and we were about a half lap away from defending our pole position from last year. We were the top qualifying car involved in the championship so now we just have to stay upfront."

Andrew Davis drove the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac to a tenth place starting position with a time of 2:59.094. Davis was never really able to get a dry lap in during the session. Davis and Robin Liddell are second in the points chase and will be looking to keep their string of consistent race finishes intact to win the GT crown tomorrow.

"I think I had a 55 or 56 in the car in the dry," Davis said. "I was never able to get a dry lap. I will have to work a little harder tomorrow during the first stint to make up some ground, but seven hours is a long race. We made some changes after the first practice, so we will have to see if we can prove them out in the warm-up tomorrow."

Patrick Barrett had the controls of the No. 32 PR1 Motorsports Pontiac for the 15-minute qualifying session. The young Californian posted a time of 2:59.249 which will have him start 11th. Barrett and Mike Forest are coming off a strong run in New Jersey three weeks ago where Barrett led several laps.

"I love the rain," Barrett said. "It is the great equalizer. Everyone seems to get nervous when it rains, but I feel real confident out there. I was right up there in the rain part of the session around third place. As the track began to dry I dropped down to 11th. We were just on the front part of the pack and couldn't take advantage of the drying conditions. We have been fighting a loose car all weekend. We made some changes for qualifying and the car seemed better. It doesn't really matter where you start for a seven hour race, so I think we should be good."

Terry Borcheller and the Autohaus team looked as if they had pulled a fast one. They went out early and put in a fast time in the rainy conditions. Thinking it was going to keep raining they pitted. When the track went dry they attempted to go out and improve their time but couldn't. Borcheller and Tim Lewis Jr. will start the race from the eighth row with a time of 3:03.639.

"We had planned to come in and then go out again at the end," Borcheller said. "The track dried really fast and we just got the timing wrong to try and put in a better lap time. It is frustrating because we have a lot more speed in this Autohaus Pontiac. We will have to show it tomorrow in the race."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Ricardo Zonta , Alex Gurney , Paul Edwards , Antonio Garcia , Boris Said , Christian Fittipaldi , Jon Fogarty , Robin Liddell , Michael Valiante , Kelly Collins , Terry Borcheller , Max Angelelli , Jim Matthews , Andrew Davis , Fabio Babini , Tracy Krohn , Tim Lewis , Patrick Barrett , Mike Forest
Teams Krohn Racing , Stevenson Motorsports , SpeedSource