Gurney Scores Third Career Rolex Series Pole with Record-Breaking Lap at Watkins Glen WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 11, 2006) -- No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley co-driver Alex Gurney scored his third career Grand American Rolex Sports...
Gurney Scores Third Career Rolex Series Pole with Record-Breaking Lap at Watkins Glen
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 11, 2006) -- No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley co-driver Alex Gurney scored his third career Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve pole position Thursday afternoon with a Watkins Glen International short course record lap time of 1:07.496 (130.674 mph), and will lead the field to the green flag in Friday evening's Crown Royal 200 at The Glen (SPEED, August 11 at 9 p.m. ET).
With 26 Daytona Prototypes in the field and GT machines not competing in the race, qualifying for the Crown Royal 200 at The Glen was split into two 15-minute sessions, with 13 randomly-selected entries qualifying in each session. Gurney posted his lap time late in the first session and watched as the second group tried to better his time. The lap time of 1:07.496 tops the old track record by more than a second, set at 1:08.409 last year by Fabrizio Gollin. The top-nine qualifiers bested the old mark.
"I'm obviously really happy to be on the pole here at Watkins Glen," said Gurney. "We always like to go out with a time to shoot for, and fortunately, the car was working really well. It was tough to have to watch as the second group went out there, watching them get lower and lower. The team has been working real hard lately, and we definitely want to get our first win for GAINSCO as soon as we can."
Gurney is co-driving in the Crown Royal 200 with Jon Fogarty. The duo hasn't finished worse than eighth in each of the last six races, with best results of second at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May and on the long course at Watkins Glen in June's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen.
Australia's Ryan Briscoe qualified second in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley with a lap time of 1:07.580 (130.674 mph) in the second session. Briscoe will team with defending Daytona Prototype co-champion Max Angelelli, and will be making his first Rolex Series start since the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. In that race, Briscoe, Angelelli and car owner Wayne Taylor drove the No. 10 machine to a third place overall finish.
"It's great to be back here with the SunTrust team," said Briscoe. "I love coming here to race because I love this track. It is my first time on the short course, but I'm definitely looking forward to the race. My job is to stay near the front during my opening stint and help Max move closer to the championship."
No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford co-driver Mike Rockenfeller qualified third with a lap time at 1:07.750 (130.185 mph)--also in the second session. Rockenfeller and teammate Patrick Long have posted two feature race victories this season--at Homestead-Miami Speedway in March and at Virginia International Raceway in April. The No. 23 Porsche drivers are currently tied for seventh in the Daytona Prototype standings with 318 markers apiece, and have finished on the podium in each of the last two events.
"We are good, but not good enough," said Rockenfeller. "I was able to improve on our best practice time, but you always want a chance at the pole. The car still feels a little loose. We have some work to do on the setup of the car in tonight's practice. We'll be looking to put a good, consistent car in the race tomorrow."
Luis Diaz qualified fourth in the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley with a lap at 1:08.012 (129.683 mph). Diaz and co-driver Scott Pruett--the 2004 Daytona Prototype co-champion--are tied for third in the current point standings with 348 points, 45 points behind No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Riley co-driver Jorg Bergmeister. No. 12 Lowe's Fernandez Racing Pontiac Riley co-driver Mario Haberfeld rounded out the top five at 1:08.021 (129.666 mph).The top nine qualifiers turned laps within one second of Gurney's pole-winning time.