ESPENLAUB GRABS FIRST CAREER SPEED WORLD CHALLENGE TOURING CAR POLE All Mazda Front Row CLEVELAND (June 25, 2005) -- Charles Espenlaub, of Lutz, Fla., will start from the U.S. Air Force Reserve Pole position for this afternoon's SCCA Pro ...
ESPENLAUB GRABS FIRST CAREER SPEED WORLD CHALLENGE TOURING CAR POLE
All Mazda Front Row
CLEVELAND (June 25, 2005) -- Charles Espenlaub, of Lutz, Fla., will start from the U.S. Air Force Reserve Pole position for this afternoon's SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Round Five race, as part of the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by U.S. Bank weekend. Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., and point leader Peter Cunningham, of West Bend, Wis., will start second and third, respectively.
Espenlaub, piloting his brand-new No. 97 Sparco/Oakley/Tindol Mazda 6, recorded his fast lap of 1:23.835 (90.834 mph) early in the qualifying session. He turned just one lap en route to winning his first career pole in 44 World Challenge starts. Not only did Espenlaub demonstrate how fast he was on the course today, but demonstrated how prophetic he was by "calling his shot" prior to qualifying. After being fast in both practice sessions yesterday, Espenlaub said that it would take a 1:23.8 to win the pole. And, that's just what he did on his first and only lap of the session.
"It was just a guess," Espenlaub said regarding 'calling his shot.' "Knowing how much quicker this car can be on a fresh set of tires, then really laying it down and take a little more risk than you normally would, it was just a good guess. Maybe I ought to play the lottery tonight. It feels great. With the field that we have, I feel quite honored to be up here [up on the podium]."
"As soon as I heard that we were coming here for the race, I've been thinking about how the start is going to go here," Espenlaub said of how difficult it is to make it through turn one at the start of the race. "Driving a front-drive Mazda 6, we are not quite as good coming out of the hole as some of the rear-drive or all-wheel drive cars. I have a little bit of a concern with how wide [turn one] it is at the start. And, I know some of the all-wheel drive cars will have a pretty clean shot toward the front, so we'll definitely have to be watching our mirrors. I will have a spotter through turn one and I hope I will get through."
Driving the No. 73 Mazdaspeed/Tri-Point Motorsport Mazda 6, Pobst helped put Mazda firmly on the front row alongside Espenlaub with a lap of 1:23.950 (90.310 mph) around the 10-turn, 2.106-mile temporary circuit. This is Pobst's first race at Burke Lakefront Airport since winning the 1997 North American Touring Car Privateer Class race.
Three-time World Challenge Drivers' Champion Cunningham will start third in his No. 42 A-SPEC/RealTime Racing Acura TSX, after recording a qualifying lap of 1:24.056 (90.197 mph). This will be Cunningham's first race on this circuit since winning the 1997 North American Touring Car Championship race.
Pobst's teammate Dino Cresentini, of Malibu, Calif., will start fourth, while Cunningham's teammate rookie Brandon Davis, of Huntington Beach, Calif., will start fifth.
Local drivers Freddy Baker, of Bedford, Ohio, and five-time World Challenge Drivers' Champion Michael Galati, of Olmsted, Ohio, will start 12th and 21st, respectively. Matt Richmond, formerly of Shaker Heights, but now resides in North Carolina, will start 11th on the grid.
The Round Five SPEED Touring Car race is set 5:45 p.m. this afternoon, as part of the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by U.S. Bank weekend. This afternoon's race can be seen on SPEED Channel at 4 p.m. (EDT) Sunday, July 26.