Pilgrim, Cunningham, Buras Take Sunday World Challenge Poles at VIR ALTON, Va. (Sept. 12, 2010) -- Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., earned his first World Challenge GT Championship pole of the season and will start first in this afternoon's ...
Pilgrim, Cunningham, Buras Take Sunday World Challenge Poles at VIR
ALTON, Va. (Sept. 12, 2010) -- Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., earned his first World Challenge GT Championship pole of the season and will start first in this afternoon's penultimate Round, the Race-Keeper World Challenge VIR Grand Prix Presented by MTM Special Ops Watch. Peter Cunningham, of Milwaukee, Wis., earned his record-extending 41st-career series pole in the GTS class, while Todd Buras, of Melbourne, Fla., will start first in Touring Car.
After what he described as the "worst race for traffic" he had ever had on Saturday, which epitomized his difficult season, Pilgrim had a bright spot Sunday morning. Driving the No. 8 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60, the 2005 Drivers Champion earned his first pole of the season, the fifth of his career, with a fastest time of 1:56.086 (101.408 mph). The lap shattered the lap record of 2:01.295 (97.052 mph) set by Randy Pobst (Porsche 911 GT3) in 2002. Since then, the World Challenge GT field has moved from street to race-compound Toyo Tires.
Pilgrim actually changed to the team's older backup car for Sunday's event.
"The pole is great," Pilgrim said. "We needed the Manufacturers' Championship point and I was really going for it as hard as I could. We just didn't think the other car had a pole time in it. We had some issues with it overheating, and in a turbo car that slows it down immediately. We knew we needed everything we could get, so we said let's just try last year's car. The gearbox temperatures were out of control yesterday during the race, they were worried about it finishing. We've been fighting the car all year and just decided to try something different. Look where we are, we have a Manufacturers' point for our trouble. It's great.
"[The backup car] is definitely an unknown. I've just got to do the best I can, but the handling is not just right. We'll see what I can do later in the race and see what happens. Hopefully she keeps running. That car hasn't been run in anger in quite some time."
Kuno Wittmer, of Montreal, Quebec, qualified his No. 13 Dodge Motorsports Dodge Viper second, and hopes to translate that into a win if he is to keep his Championship hopes alive. Wittmer's fast time of 1:56.206 (101.303 mph) was 0.120-second behind Pilgrim's best.
Point leader, and the winner of Saturday's Round 10 race, Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., will start third in the No. 6 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60 after turning a lap of 1:56.369 (101.161 mph). Pobst needs a finish of fifth or better to clinch his fourth World Challenge Driver's Championship with one race remaining. Volvo can clinch the Manufacturers' title if it scores two more points than Porsche in this afternoon's race.
Saturday's Runner-up, James Sofronas, of Newport Beach, Calif., will start fourth in his No. 14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3 after turning a best lap of 1:57.469 (100.214 mph). Tony Gaples, of Libertyville, Ill., equaled his career-best qualifying effort of fifth, with a 1:58.095 (99.682 mph) in his No. 29 Kleinschmidt/Blackdog Racing Chevrolet Corvette.
Driving the No. 43 Acura/RealTime Racing Acura TSX, Cunningham turned a fastest lap of 2:06.912 (92.757 mph) to earn his record-extending 41st World Challenge pole. Cunningham is looking for redemption, after leading Saturday's race before a mechanical issue sidelined him on the final lap.
"We had a rare electrical problem yesterday, a crank sensor failed," Cunningham said. "It was a bummer to have led all the laps through such treacherous conditions to fail within sight of the checker. Today, everything looks good and we went a little quicker today than yesterday and hopefully we'll get to the checkers today."
Cunningham can clinch his record sixth World Challenge Championship by finishing second, regardless of what anyone else does today or at the season finale Oct. 3 at Miller Motorsports Park. Acura already clinched the Manufacturers' Championship in GTS.
Saturday's first-time winner Nick Esayian, of San Diego, Calif., will start second in his No. 34 Acura/RealTime Racing Acura TSX after turning a fast time of 2:07.874 (92.059 mph). Ernie Jakubowski, of Oakville, Ontario, will start third in his No. 91 Fuchs/CDOC/Forgeline Porsche Cayman S after turning a best time of 2:09.227 (91.096 mph).
Kevin Helms (Acura RSX) and Tommy Sadler (Acura TSX) will start fourth and fifth, respectively.
After earning his third World Challenge win in as many starts on Saturday, Buras won his second-consecutive pole position in Touring Car, driving the No. 50 Irish Mike's Racing Volkswagen Jetta GLI. Buras turned a fastest lap of 2:12.281 (88.992 mph), breaking his record established on Saturday.
"We changed a lot today, and it took a while to get used to it," Buras said. "The car is much better, much more stable, and much more consistent. It took about three laps for me to come in, the car was doing what I asked it to but it took a while for me to get going on it. There were some inconsistencies yesterday, but the car is a dream.
"The track is a little more green today after the rain, so the car was a little more free. I'm wondering if it's the track or our adjustments, but I'm hoping it's the adjustments. We were able to lay in it and stay in it coming off of the corner and that's what we were looking for yesterday."
Greg Shaffer, of Harrisonburg, Va., will start second in his No. 36 DG-Spec/Scion/TRD Scion tC with a fastest time of 2:13.427 (88.228 mph). Teammate Robert Stout, of Brownsburg, Ind., will start third in the No. 18 DG-Spec/Scion/TRD/Lucas Oil Scion tC, with a time of 2:13.494 (88.183 mph).
Stout will clinch the 2010 World Challenge Touring Car Championship simply by starting the race this afternoon with one Round remaining. Scion clinched the Manufacturers Championship Saturday afternoon.
Robb Holland, of Denver, Colo., will start fourth in his No. 22 3ZERO3 Motorsports/Track Pro/Emich VW Volkswagen GTI, followed by Brett Sandberg, of Allendale, N.J., in the No. 28 Whitehall Stable Acura TSX.
Today's Round 11 World Challenge race will make its standing start at 1:35 p.m. (Eastern). Follow live lap notes and timing at www.world-challenge.com. The race will be broadcast along with the season finale from Miller Motorsports Park Saturday, October 30 at 3 p.m. (Eastern) on Versus.
-source: scca pro racing