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Mid-Ohio: Touring Car qualifying report

Altenburg Grabs Third SPEED Touring Car Pole of the Season at Mid-Ohio Jeff Altenburg, of Ellicott City, Md., will start Sunday's SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Presented by Trenton...

Altenburg Grabs Third SPEED Touring Car Pole of the Season at Mid-Ohio

Jeff Altenburg, of Ellicott City, Md., will start Sunday's SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Presented by Trenton Forging race from the pole position after a record-setting run in Saturday's qualifying. Chip Herr, of Lititz, Pa., will start second.

Currently running second in the SCCA SPEED Touring Car Drivers' Championship, Altenburg collected his third pole of 2007. Driving the No. 72 Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development Mazda 6, Altenburg clocked a 1:32.846 (87.551 mph) around the 13-turn, 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio road course, a new SCCA SPEED Touring Car qualifying lap record.

Unlike most SCCA SPEED Touring Car qualifying sessions, where the fastest laps come early in the session, times tumbled late in the 20-minute session that started at 7:25 a.m. After one flying lap, the session was stopped to retrieve a car from the Turn One gravel, leaving just over 10 minutes in the session.

"It was kind of like F1 qualifying, with a lot of drama at the end," Altenburg said. "It was pretty cool.

"For me, the problem was Turn One. Before our session, they were sweeping it and there was oil dry. We almost went off on the first lap because we were the first two cars through there. To me, the times dropped because Turn One got better and better.

"I was seventh at the red. Usually, you can let the tires cool down and go out for one more run and get a time reasonably close to the first lap. So, I went out and I did a 33.1 and I was on the pole. I was ready to get out of the car, because that's usually about it. I'm sitting there and sitting there, and the team said 'Cunningham just did a 33.0.' So, with the Acura-Mazda battle, I went back out. They didn't tell me that while I was out there, I fell back to fifth or maybe even worse.

"On my lap, I got through one better than before. I took a little tighter line than usual. The rest of the lap was really no better than the 33.1, it was all about getting through Turn One better."

Altenburg was quick to thank his team for working to overcome a recent adjustment by the series on the Mazda 6.

"We've done a lot to overcome the adjustment, but the weight bias change is going to hurt toward the end of the race. If I can finish on the podium here this weekend, I'll be real happy.

"I have to thank Mazdaspeed, TriPoint and our new sponsor ChaseCam. It's another point for Mazda in the Championship and gets me five points closer to Randy [Pobst] in the Drivers' Championship."

Winner at Mid-Ohio in 2006, Herr will start his No. 17 STaSIS/Clear Capital/Fred Baker Audi A4 second on the grid after turning a 1:32.911 (87.490 mph).

The second row is all BimmerWorld with Seth Thomas, of Cumming, Ga., starting third and Joey Hand, of Sacramento, Calif., starting fourth. Thomas turned a 1:33.032 (87.376 mph) in his No. 38 BimmerWorld BMW 325i with Hand in the No. 37 Bimmerworld BMW just 0.006-second slower, with a 1:33.038 (87.370 mph).

James Sofronas, of Newport Beach, Calif., puts a third BMW in the top five with a lap of 1:33.270 (87.153 mph) in his No. 29 Global Motorsports Group BMW 325Ci.

Jason Martinelli (BMW 325i), Ian Baas (Audi A4), Adam Pecorari (Audi A4), Peter Cunningham (Acura TSX) and Randy Pobst (Mazda 6) completed the top ten.

The SCCA SPEED World Challenge Touring Car at Mid-Ohio Presented by Trenton Forging race will launch from a standing start at 8:45 a.m. (EDT) on Sunday.

The race will be broadcast Saturday, July 28 at 3 p.m. (EDT) on SPEED.

-credit: scca

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Series PWC
Drivers Joey Hand , Randy Pobst , Peter Cunningham , Jeff Altenburg , Adam Pecorari , Chip Herr , James Sofronas , Ian Baas , Jason Martinelli , Seth Thomas