Utah: Series qualifying report

Pruett Records First Grand-Am Rolex Series Pole of 2007 for Miller Motorsports Park Season Finale TOOELE, Utah (September 14, 2007) -- Scott Pruett fired the first shot among the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special...

Pruett Records First Grand-Am Rolex Series Pole of 2007 for Miller Motorsports Park Season Finale

TOOELE, Utah (September 14, 2007) -- Scott Pruett fired the first shot among the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Daytona Prototype championship contenders Friday at Miller Motorsports Park, grabbing the pole position for Saturday's Sunchaser 1000.

Pruett, just one point behind Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty in the championship standings entering this season finale, piloted his No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley around the 24-turn, 4.486-mile in a time of 2:40.584 (100.568 mph). The pole was the first of the season for Pruett and the TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, and second consecutive at the Sunchaser 1000. Pruett will lead the Rolex Series field to the green flag before handing the car to teammates Memo Rojas and Salvador Duran.

It also marks the first pole of the season for Lexus.

"It's always good to be starting up front," said Pruett, seeking his second Daytona Prototype title. "Hopefully we can come out and be good at the start and run strong -- but we've got to go back and make some changes. The balance isn't there yet. We got to be careful, because there is so much wind blowing out there today, that we've got to be a little bit cautious. Winning the pole is exciting for the team."

Pruett held off a last lap challenge from Gurney, whose No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley was searching for a 10th consecutive pole. Instead, the GAINSCO machine completed a season sweep of front row starts with a second place qualifying effort in 2:40.844 (100.405 mph). Gurney's efforts on a windy desert day leave him and Fogarty, along with co-driver Jimmy Vasser, in position to clinch their first series championship.

"I'm actually a little disappointed," said Gurney, who with Fogarty had started on the pole in every race since May's event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. "I knew from the practice run I had yesterday that we had the car to get a pole. I didn't have a very good first lap -- which is really when you have to do it, I think -- and from then on, there was gravel that I drove through in two corners over the next two laps. I wasn't able to improve. Tough, but certainly a good start, I guess."

Qualifying in the car's highest position of the season was the No. 05 Luggage Express Team Sigalsport BMW Riley piloted by Bill Auberlen in a time of 2:40.976 (100.323 mph). Auberlen, teamed this weekend with Matt Alhadeff and Joey Hand, won the Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami earlier this season.

"With my co-drivers, Joey Hand and Matt Alhadeff, and Luggage Express, our great sponsor, we've got a great package," Auberlen said. "We've finally been able to put that whole package together and we're starting near the front."

In all, seven different engine and chassis combinations filled the first seven starting positions on the Daytona Prototype grid. Darren Law, in the No. 58 Red Bull/Brumos Porsche Riley qualified fourth, followed by Patrick Long in the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Porsche Crawford. The No. 77 Feed The Needs/Doran Racing Kodak Ford Doran of Memo Gidley and the No. 39 Cheever Racing Crown Royal Special Reserve Pontiac Fabcar of Christian Fittipaldi were the sixth and seventh combinations at the top of the qualifying time sheets.

Max Angelelli, sitting just three points behind Gurney and Fogarty in the championship, struggled to an eighth-place qualifying performance in the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley.

Paul Edwards paced the 15-minute GT qualifying session in the No. 07 Banner Racing/Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R, setting a class record with a time of 2:54.165 (92.726 mph). Edwards, who with teammate Kelly Collins still holds an outside shot at the team and driver's championships, scored the team's fourth consecutive class pole and sixth for the past seven races. Johnny O'Connell will join the pair for Saturday's race.

"That was the first time we had new rubber on the car all weekend," Edwards said. "We ran scrubs all practice and still led every session, so we just carried the performance over to qualifying. We made a few changes after the last practice and that just improved the car. We wanted to save our new rubber for the race. All that is left to do is win!"

The No. 70 SpeedSource Mazdaspeed Mazda RX-8 of Nick Ham turned the second quickest time of the class session in 2:55.161 (92.199 mph), nearly a second slower than Edwards in the Banner Racing machine. Like the Daytona Prototype class, three different manufacturers are represented among the top three GT cars as the No. 85 Farnbacher Loles Motorsports Shoes For Crews/Recaro Porsche GT3 Cup qualified third. Piloted by Leh Keen, the No. 85 machine turned a lap of 2:55.466 (92.038 mph).

Emil Assentato turned a fast lap of 2:56.558 (91.469 mph) in the No. 69 Speed Source FXDD Mazda RX-8 to qualify fourth in the GT class. Bryce Miller -- co-driving with GT championship leader Dirk Werner -- qualified fifth in a time of 2:56.562 (91.467 mph).

The Daytona Prototypes and the GT class will run together for the first time since Montreal on Saturday during the Sunchaser 1000 at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, the Rolex Series season finale. The race's start will air live on SPEED at 1 p.m. ET, with the action continuing to the checkered flag beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET.

-credit: garra

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Alex Gurney , Paul Edwards , Jimmy Vasser , Memo Gidley , Christian Fittipaldi , Jon Fogarty , Johnny O'Connell , Scott Pruett , Bill Auberlen , Joey Hand , Emil Assentato , Kelly Collins , Darren Law , Max Angelelli , Patrick Long , Chip Ganassi , Salvador Duran , Nick Ham , Lehman Keen , Bob Stallings , Alex Job , Dirk Werner , Felix Sabates , Bryce Miller
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Doran Racing , Alex Job Racing , SpeedSource