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Road Atlanta: Touring Car qualifying notes

Cunningham Captures SCCA Speed Touring Car Air Force Reserve Pole Position at Road Atlanta BRASELTON, Ga. (Sept. 23, 2004) -- Peter Cunningham, of West Bend, Wis., captured his third consecutive SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car...

Cunningham Captures SCCA Speed Touring Car Air Force Reserve Pole Position at Road Atlanta

BRASELTON, Ga. (Sept. 23, 2004) -- Peter Cunningham, of West Bend, Wis., captured his third consecutive SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Air Force Reserve Pole position Thursday at Road Atlanta, in preparation for Friday's Round Nine race as part of the Chevy Presents Petit Le Mans. Pierre Kleinubing, of Coconut Creek, Fla., will start on the outside of row one and Bill Auberlen, of Rolling Hills Estates, Calif. will start third.

Piloting the No. 4 NISMO/TeamRTR Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V, three-time series Champion Cunningham set a new record qualifying lap record with a 1:35.272 (95.977 mph) early in the session. Cunningham broke the old qualifying lap record by more than two seconds, which was set by Kleinubing last season in an Acura RSX-S.

"I must say, we weren't expecting to be much better than a top-five [car]," Cunningham said of his qualifying session. "But, I think a lot of bad things happened to a lot of people out there. I turned a pretty good lap and then I went around again. I got a pretty nice draft from Bob Endicott on my flyer and there it was. It wasn't as fast as people had gone earlier in the weekend, but it was a good enough lap to get the pole."

Gunning for his record fifth-career win at Road Atlanta, Cunningham will start alongside Kleinubing for the third time in the last three races.

"We're both in front [wheel] drive cars," Cunningham said of the strategy that he and Kleinubing will have to employ to stay in front heading into turn one. "It's tough to get off the line and with rear [wheel] drive cars right behind us, it's going to be tough to even maintain that 1-2 going into the first corner. But, we'll certainly give it our best shot."

Cunningham, who teamed-up with Champion Racing earlier this week to drive an Audi RS 6 in Friday's SPEED GT race, will start 12th.

Three-time series Champion Kleinubing, driving the No. 42 A-SPEC/RealTime Racing Acura TSX, set the pace early on in the session and looked poised to capture the pole until Cunningham set his flyer, dropping Kleinubing to second. Kleinubing turned a fast lap of 1:35.417 (95.832 mph).

"I just didn't have anything for Peter [Cunningham] today," Kleinubing said of his qualifying run. "He had a better car than us in qualifying. But we should be pretty good for the race.

SPEED Touring Car point leader Auberlen recorded the third fastest qualifying time in his No. 1 Turner Motorsport/H&R Springs BMW 325i with a 1:35.551 (95.697 mph) and will start on the inside of row two. Auberlen, who holds a 15-point lead over second-place Nic Jonsson, can clinch his second-consecutive Drivers' Championship following Friday's race if leaves Road Atlanta with a 35-point lead. Last season, Auberlen clinched the Championship with two races remaining.

Bob Stretch, of Dallas, will start fourth in his neon green and orange No. 98 Wheels America BMW 325Ci. Shauna Marinus, of Folsom, Calif., will start fifth, which is her highest qualifying position of the sesason.

The SPEED Touring Car Round Nine race will make its standing start at 11:10 a.m. (EDT) Friday and the race will initially air at 12 p.m., (EDT) Sunday, Sept. 26 on SPEED Channel.

-scca pro racing-

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Series PWC
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams RealTime Racing , Turner Motorsport