#MONTEREY, Calif. _ Rocky Moran Jr. of Costa Mesa, Calif. was looking to catch a break in the first round of qualifying for Round 9 of the 12-race Barber Dodge Pro Series at Laguna Seca Raceway Friday afternoon. He just might have found some luck, and put himself in a position to set a new track qualifying record in the process.
Moran, who is looking to break out of a four-race stretch of bad luck, rebounded to capture the provisional pole for Sunday's race at the Grand Prix of Monterey with a lap time of 1:26.387 averaging 93.372 mph. The time surpasses the series track qualifying record of Norway's Thomas Schie (1:26.599/93.040 mph) set in 1996, but will not become an official record until the conclusion of the second qualifying session, slated for 5 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
Moran outdueled Jeff Simmons of East Granby, Conn. (1:26.376/93.276 mph) for the top spot after a spirited battle that went unresolved until the closing laps of the 30-minute session.
"Actually, I got my best lap chasing him," Moran said of his battle with Simmons for the top spot. "It's real important (to end the season strong). If I don't do good here, I won't be moving on."
Simmons currently sits in third place in the tight Barber Dodge Pro Series championship race with 89 points, trailing Todd Snyder of Sheffield, Mass. (99 points) and Norway's Thomas Schie (92 points) and is looking to pick up the crucial bonus point awarded to the top qualifier for each race.
"I knew that Rocky was real quick because I ran a pretty fast lap, and he was behind me the whole way," Simmons said. "I think that tomorrow the track may be quicker because the (Champ) cars are out there again and laying down more rubber."
Snyder had the third-fastest time in the first session (126.399/93.251 mph), with Townsend Bell of Los Altos, Calif. (1:26.793/ 92.828 mph) and Sepp Koster of the Netherlands (1:26.832/ 92.786 mph) rounding out the top five.