WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Oct. 1) - True to form, Barber Dodge Pro Series points leader Jeff Simmons of East Granby, Conn. and second-place Todd Snyder of Sheffield, Mass. continued their battle for the final pole bonus point of the season in first...
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Oct. 1) - True to form, Barber Dodge Pro Series points leader Jeff Simmons of East Granby, Conn. and second-place Todd Snyder of Sheffield, Mass. continued their battle for the final pole bonus point of the season in first round qualifying at Watkins Glen Friday morning.
Simmons, who leads Snyder by seven points in the quest for the $300,000 Career Enhancement Award, topped the time sheets with a best lap of 1:51.531 averaging 109.745 mph on the 3.4-mile, 11-turn long course. The time is certain to obliterate the old Barber Dodge record of Sweden's Fredrik Larsson (1:54.372) at the track set in 1995. The top 13 cars in the session topped Larsson's time in cool, sunny weather.
"The car was really good there, we put in some fast laps," Simmons said. "I made one small mistake, I guess. I just over-slowed the heel (Turn 8), but the rest of that lap went really well."
Snyder was just a click of the stopwatch behind at 1:51.707 at 109.572 mph and could have nabbed pole honors if not for a spin on the entrance to the front straight. Snyder entered the high-speed Turn 11 right-hander sideways, but was able to lock the brakes in a billowing cloud of tire smoke and catch the car before contact with the Armco barrier lining the turn. Snyder did scrape the car's undertray on the alligator-tooth curbing before coming to rest on the exit of the turn.
"It felt like it was a pretty good lap. I was getting a residual draft off the cars in front, but I just tried to carry too much into the last turn," Snyder said. "I clipped off the apex curve and that's what started the whole thing. We had a couple of okay laps after that, so we'll just have to look at the data and see. We need the point."
Nilton Rossoni, who won the pole in Round 11 at Homestead last week, was third on the provisional grid with a best lap of 1:52.023 at 109.263 mph. Townsend Bell (1:52.198/109.093 mph) and rookie of the year candidate Michael Valiante (1:52.308/108.986 mph) of Vancouver, B.C. completed the Top-5.
Simmons was under no illusions about the final qualifying session, scheduled for Saturday morning. The weather forecast is the same, with cool, dry weather.
"Todd's only two-tenths behind and that's nothing on a three and a half-mile track," Simmons said. "It's definitely a good psychological edge to be quickest in the sessions. But Todd doesn't get rattled and he doesn't make many mistakes. I don't think he's too worried about it."