VIR: Friday Test Day notes

Gurney Posts Quickest Time in Test Day at Virginia International Raceway ALTON, Va. (April 27, 2007) -- Driving the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley, Alex Gurney posted the quickest lap in Friday's track test day in preparation...

Gurney Posts Quickest Time in Test Day at Virginia International Raceway

ALTON, Va. (April 27, 2007) -- Driving the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley, Alex Gurney posted the quickest lap in Friday's track test day in preparation for Sunday's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve VIR 400 at Virginia International Raceway (SPEED, Live, 1:00 p.m. ET).

Gurney logged a best lap at 1:45.766 (111.302 mph) in the second of the day's two test sessions, which was nearly a full second quicker than his next closest competitor. Gurney and co-driver Jon Fogarty already own one victory in 2007 with their first-ever Rolex Series triumph in March's Mexico City 400k, and the No. 99 machine has started from the front row for all three previous rounds of the 2007 Rolex Series.

"I love this place," Gurney said. "We got a great start and the GAINSCO car is obviously working pretty well. Last year, we had a strong car here, so we didn't have to do anything special, just a few tweaks, really. Jon and I are really happy--we learned a lot today for sure, and we can even fine-tune a bit more tomorrow. As for the gap, I'm pretty surprised because normally, it's not like that. But we'll take it."

Second-quick on the day and quickest in the first session was Patrick Long in the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford at 1:46.701 (110.327 mph). Long is the defending champion of the VIR 400, having scored a dramatic victory alongside then-co-driver Mike Rockenfeller last season. This year, Long is sharing the ride with 2006 Daytona Prototype champion Jorg Bergmeister, and the duo heads into Sunday's race in search of its first victory of the year and the team's first win since last year's thriller at VIR.

Driving for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates for the first time this weekend, Canadian standout Michael Valiante posted the day's third-quickest time in the No. 19 Z-Line Designs/Mission Residential/Make-A-Wish Lexus Riley with a lap at 1:46.752 (110.274 mph). Valiante and co-driver Rob Finlay switched to the Ganassi operation after spending all of last season and the first three races of this season with Finlay Motorsports. The duo is still in search of its first Rolex Series victory.

Max Papis was fourth-quickest in the No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley with a lap at 1:46.792 (110.233 mph). Papis is making his third Rolex Series appearance at VIR this weekend with a previous best result of second in 2004 after starting from the pole position. The 2004 Daytona Prototype co-champion is once again sharing the car this weekend with 18-year-old Colin Braun.

Scott Pruett completed the top five in the No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley with a best lap at 1:46.878 (110.144 mph). Pruett--who shared the 2004 Daytona Prototype title with Papis--has finished on the podium in all three of his previous Rolex Series appearances at VIR with a victory in 2005. Pruett leads the Daytona Prototype driver standings and will again share the No. 01 machine with Mexican racer Memo Rojas.


In GT class action, Spencer Pumpelly turned in a time of 1:55.651 (101.789 mph) during the second session to lead 28 cars in preparation for Saturday's VIR 400 (SPEED, 4/28, Tape Delay, 8:30 p.m. ET), the third round of the 13-race season for the GT class in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve.

Pumpelly, of Dacula, Ga., said the TRG team completed the session first on an old set of tires, then changed to a new set toward the end of the 45-minute session, securing the top spot on the speed charts.

"The car was handling great," said Pumpelly after piloting the No. 67 Porsche GT3 sponsored by NETTTS/Louis Boston machine. "I only did one lap during the first session before turning over the car to co-driver Mark (Greenberg) and sorting out some other issues. So in the second session, we put down a good lap, and I'm really happy with the car. TRG puts together a really good program, and an excellent car, so it was no surprise that we were quick out of the box.

"I think there are going to be a lot of cars that have the potential to put down a good lap tomorrow, as I'm not sure we saw everything everyone had today. But, we have an excellent car. One of the things TRG has been doing -- and showing over the last couple of races -- is that late in the stint, our cars are very strong. Hopefully we'll not only put together a good, solid lap, but continue to be good in the latter stages of the stint."

Eric Lux and Wolf Henzler, who share the No. 74 Rembrandt Charms Porsche GT3 from the Tafel Racing stable, set the first session's fast time and landed second on the charts in the second session at 1:55.922 (101.551 mph). The pair split time behind the wheel in the second session, with Henzler driving the first eight laps before turning the car to Lux, who drove the final 10 circuits. Henzler set the fast time on lap four of the run. The pair's first session time was 1:56.865 (100.732 mph).

GT points co-leader Nick Ham, who has had a hand in the last two victories in GT action for the SpeedSource team, laid down the third quick time at 1:55.986 (101.495 mph) in the No. 70 Mazda/Mazdaspeed RX-8. Ham shares the No. 70 Mazda with SpeedSource owner/driver Sylvain Tremblay.

Andy Lally in the No. 66 Porsche CRG/Maxter/Rotax/MBA/NFP/F1Air Porsche GT3 was fourth with a lap at 1:56.267 (101.250 mph) in TRG machine he is sharing with RJ Valentine. Leh Keen rounded out the top five in the No. 85 Marquis Jet/IPC/Recaro Porsche GT3 fielded by Farnbacher Loles Motorsports with a lap at 1:56.368 (101.162 mph). Keen's co-driver is Dominik Farnbacher.

-credit: garra

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Alex Gurney , Max Papis , Jon Fogarty , Scott Pruett , Colin Braun , Michael Valiante , Andy Lally , Jörg Bergmeister , Memo Rojas , Spencer Pumpelly , Chip Ganassi , Nick Ham , Wolf Henzler , Lehman Keen , Eric Lux , Dominik Farnbacher , Rob Finlay , Felix Sabates
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Krohn Racing , SpeedSource