Third Pole of the Year for von Kluge at Mid-Ohio Mustang Challenge LEXINGTON, Ohio, 19 June - After pacing the early weekend sessions, the form guide for round 6 of the Ford Mustang Challenge Series at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course would have...
Third Pole of the Year for von Kluge at Mid-Ohio Mustang Challenge
LEXINGTON, Ohio, 19 June - After pacing the early weekend sessions, the form guide for round 6 of the Ford Mustang Challenge Series at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course would have predicted Tony Buffomante leading Jason von Kluge to the pole.
Apparently, von Kluge didn't pay any heed to it, as it was he who put the No. 19 JVK Motorsports Mustang on pole by 0.480 seconds over the No. 34 of Buffomante. Ben Crosland will start tomorrow's race from third and starting third will be Craig Capaldi will start from the outside of row 2 as he makes an impressive Mustang Challenge debut.
Qualifying got underway at 10:00 AM EDT, and everyone was looking at a sky that was getting darker rather than brighter. Strong thunderstorms were lurking about, but in the end they stayed to the south. As a result the mercury made its way toward the mid-80s, which would affect the performance of those who may have banked on the cloud cover keeping the track cool.
Buffomante set the early standard on his first flying lap around the 2.25 miles of Mid-Ohio stopping the clock with 1:35.809 second effort. Shortly after, Buffomante's Capaldi Racing teammate Craig Capaldi surprised everyone by moving to the top of the time sheet. His reign was short-lived when teammate Buffomante, completing his second flying lap, reset the best time by knocking four-tenths of a second off his previous best.
Then came the permanent reign of von Kluge. On his second lap, he reset the time to beat, going four-hundredths of a second quicker than Buffomante. The next time through, he bettered his own time knocking, another four-tenths off to record the pole-winning lap at 1:35.001 seconds. Just to put a stamp on his performance, von Kluge set the second-fastest time as well, three-tenths of a second behind his best on his fourth lap.
"I'm very happy to be back on pole. I really needed it after the (Watkins) Glen," said von Kluge of Ann Arbor, Mich. "The car worked really well on my fast lap and I have to thank everyone on my crew as well as my backers Steeda, Varsity Ford and Green Filter USA for all their work and support. Pole on this track is really important in order to avoid any potential first-lap tangles. From there I hope to be able to get away from the others and build a good lead."
Buffomante was disappointed but philosophical after qualifying.
"You didn't expect him to just lay down and give it away, did you? Congratulations to Jason and his crew," offered Buffomante, who knows a stout competitor when he sees one. "They got it right today. And, congratulations to my teammate Craig (Capaldi). That's a heck of a result for his first time out. We misread the weather, thinking that it would be cooler. My tire pressures went up and I couldn't keep the rear underneath me. But, 45 minutes is a long time (for the race) tomorrow so we just need to get back to work and figure this out."
Crosland waited in the pits a bit longer than most to get a clear gap for his qualifying effort. He opened by slotting into the fourth best time, then by his third lap, he improved to position 3. One lap later he bettered his own best time to 1:35.510 seconds, but would remain in third, just a tenth of second behind Buffomante.
"The car just kept getting better and better, and I felt like could go faster every lap. I'm happy with third because it puts me on the inside for the first turn (which is actually turn 4 as Mid-Ohio starts races on the middle straight rather than the much shorter home straight) because there is no grip on the outside of turn 4," said Crosland, driver of the No. 25 RP Motorsports Mustang.
Mustang Challenge rookie Capaldi, driving for his family team, Capaldi Racing, in his first race behind the wheel of the Mustang FR500S, made his intentions known by securing the outside of row 2. He held pole briefly early and his best yielded only seven-tenths of a second to the pole winner.
"This was my first time on a new set of BF Goodrich g-Force tires and after tuning and tuning the car during practice, it handled really well on the new tires. I knew turning into turn 1 that I had a good lap," said Capaldi. "Coming into the weekend, I would have been happy to finish in the top 10, so if I can keep my nose clean during the race, I hope to achieve that."
Steve Phillips made three out of five for Capaldi Racing in the top 5, securing the inside of row three in his No. 22 Mustang. Pratt Cole lines up alongside in the No. 88 RP Motorsports Mustang.
George Winkler driving the No. 12 Winkler Racing Mustang and Dan Awieda in the No. 17 out of the Flying Horse Motorsports stable make up row 4. Rounding out the top 10 are Kyle Gimple in the No. 81 ICY Racing entry and Keith Carroll's No. 82 Flying Horse Motorsports machine.
Race action gets underway on Sunday at 12:35 PM EDT. Follow the action as it happens with live timing and scoring at mustangchallenge.com.