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Road America: Touring Car qualifying report

Espenlaub Takes SPEED Touring Car Pole For Mazda at Road America ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Aug. 19, 2006) -- Charles Espenlaub, of Lutz, Fla., captured the second SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car pole position of his career in a Mazda...

Espenlaub Takes SPEED Touring Car Pole For Mazda at Road America

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Aug. 19, 2006) -- Charles Espenlaub, of Lutz, Fla., captured the second SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car pole position of his career in a Mazda 6 for today's Round Seven race, part of the Generac 500 weekend at Road America. Chip Herr, of Lititz, Pa., will start second in his Audi.

Driving the No. 97 Sparco/Oakley/Tindol Mazda 6, Espenlaub ran a fast lap of 2:27.015 (97.949 mph) around the 4.048-mile circuit to end a four-race pole streak for point leader Pierre Kleinubing. It is the second pole for Espenlaub's career, having won the 2005 pole position at the Grand Prix of Cleveland.

"We had a lot of hard work from Tindol Motorsports today," Espenlaub said of the effort. "I can't tell you the amount of work these guys have done on the car in the last couple of weeks. We tried to carry over momentum from Denver and they had a really good setup on the car. We've done just small tweaks here and there and had a good lap.

"Hopefully we'll get a good launch and follow Chip [Herr] in the Audi around after he gets the typical launch and try to stay out of trouble and be there in the end."

Driving the No. 17 STaSIS/Clear Capital Audi A4, Herr recovered after going off in Canada Corner on his first flying lap to turn a 2:27.454 (98.829 mph), good enough for second quick in the session. The last time Herr started second, he went on to lead every lap of the race at Mid-Ohio in May.

Herr's lap displaced local favorite Peter Cunningham, of Grafton, Wis., from the front row. Cunningham turned a lap just 0.011-second slower than the Audi in his No. 1 Acura Certified Pre-Owned/RealTime Racing Acura TSX. Cunningham has won the last two SPEED Touring Car races at Road America, in 2003 and 2004.

Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., will start the race fourth after running a lap of 2:27.508 in his No. 73 Mazdaspeed/Tri-Point Motorsports Mazda 6. Rookie Robb Holland, of Denver, Colo., made it four different auto manufacturers in the top five, qualifying his No. 67 3R-Racing Dodge SRT4 fifth with a fastest time of 2:27.736 (98.793 mph).

Eric Curran (Acura RSX), Brian Smith (Dodge SRT4), Dino Crescentini (Mazda 6), Brandon Davis (Acura TSX) and Jeff Altenburg (Mazda 6) completed the top 10.

Point leader Kleinubing could only manage 11th in his Acura TSX. When Kleinubing starts this afternoon, it will be just the sixth time in 97 SPEED Touring Car starts that he has lined up outside of the top 10.

James Clay, of Radford, Va., withdrew his car owing to a crash in Friday afternoon's practice session. Kuno Wittmer, of Montreal, Quebec, withdrew after an engine failure in qualifying.

This afternoon's race will be broadcast on a brief delay on SPEED Channel, with the broadcast starting at 5 p.m. locally, 6 p.m. (EDT).

-credit: www.world-challenge.com

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Series PWC
Drivers Randy Pobst , Pierre Kleinubing , Peter Cunningham , Eric Curran , Charles Espenlaub , Jeff Altenburg , James Clay , Kuno Wittmer , Brian Smith , Chip Herr , Dino Crescentini , Brandon Davis , Robb Holland
Teams HART