VW Jetta: Series Millville qualifying notes

LEE AND POMBO CLAIM VOLKSWAGEN JETTA TDI CUP POLES AT A WET NEW JERSEY MOTORSPORTS PARK Round 8 to begin tomorrow at 3:30 pm ET Millville, NJ (September 11, 2009) -- A weather system moved into New Jersey overnight that brought considerable ...

Round 8 to begin tomorrow at 3:30 pm ET

Millville, NJ (September 11, 2009) -- A weather system moved into New Jersey overnight that brought considerable moisture to the area surrounding New Jersey Motorsports Park. A driving rain greeted the drivers this morning and delayed practice on the 14-turn, 2.225-mile road course. However, the 26 participants competing in this weekend's two SCCA Pro Racing Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup races took to the track shortly after noon for practice and two qualifying sessions.

While the track remained wet because of an intermittent drizzle, the series technicians outfitted the clean diesel Jetta TDI's with the grooved Pirelli rain tires to help the drivers deal with the slick conditions. While a majority of the drivers remained safe during the session, guest driver Mike Ammann and series regular Andrew Gunn Tucker both encountered problems in Turn 1 after making contact with the tire barriers. When the checkered flag fell on the session, it was Andy Lee topping the speed charts in the #27 Castrol Syntec car with a time of 1:44.789 (77.289 mph), marking his second pole position of the season. Timmy Megenbier and Jake Thompson rounded out the top three spots.

The rain dissipated for the afternoon session, but left behind many puddles and standing water when the drivers went back out on the track for the first of two qualifying sessions. Several drivers, including Joey Atterbury, Thompson and Lee took turns at the top of the leader board. However, it was Lee who once again had the quick lap of 1:43.938 (77.931 mph) when Theresa Condict impacted the tire barrier in Turn 8 ending the session. Atterbury and Thompson rounded out the top three spots for tomorrow's race, but the competition was extremely tight. The top 12 drivers on the speed charts were all within one second of Lee's time.

"The conditions really made today very challenging," Lee said. "There was so much water on the track today that I was hydroplaning a bit on each lap. However, I think we saw the drivers who were doing the best job managing this obstacle were the ones who ended up the fastest. Timmy (Megenbier) and I were battling pretty hard during the first qualifying session, and I think we both thought that we would pull each other along to run faster, but that wasn't the case. Once we separated, we both got faster, and thankfully, I was able to run a quick lap before the end of the session. The rest of the weekend is going to be very interesting, but I'm hoping for the best."

The second qualifying session was reminiscent of the series' last race at Mosport where fog and drizzle plagued the area. Like in Canada, it was Mark Pombo who best battled the elements to claim the pole position with for Round 9 on Sunday with a time of 1:43.209 (788.481 mph). This marks the second time this season that he has put the #20 VW Parts & Accessories car on the top of the qualifying charts. Thompson and Andrew Novich rounded out the top three for Sunday's race. This is Novich's best starting position of the season.

"The second qualifying session was redemption for me," Pombo said. "I was fast in the first session, but I felt that I left a little bit on the table, and I was disappointed with myself. I went out there and got after it early and was .7 seconds ahead of the rest of the field, so I pulled it into the garage with about 15 minutes to go in qualifying. I thought that I was safely on top, and I didn't want to risk damaging the car, so I thought it was best to park it. A few guys started to get close, and I thought about going back out, but thankfully my time held up."

Two guest drivers joined the series regulars on the track today. Freestyle motocross rider, Mat Rebeaud was the standout, qualifying 20th and 9th for the weekend's two races.

"Today was an awesome experience for me considering I've never raced a car before," Rebeaud said. "The rain really added to the challenge, but I felt that I was able to improve throughout the day. I started out around 20th on the speed charts, and by the end of the day, I was able to move up considerably. I'm super happy with how things ended up, and I can't wait to race tomorrow."

Former MLS all star and retired DC United goalie, Mike Ammann's accident in practice forced him to miss the first qualifying session. However, the series mechanics worked to repair his car, and he was able to qualify 25th for Sunday's race.

"It was a little rough for me out there today," Ammann said. "I've spent some time in the Jetta TDI Cup car, but it was on a dry track. I got a little too aggressive going into turn one during practice, hydroplaned and my back end came around on me. Unfortunately, I tore the car up a bit, but the guys were great getting me put back together for the second qualifying session. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a little less eventful than today, and I'll be able to bring home a solid result."

The Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup series returns to action at New Jersey Motorsports Park tomorrow for Round 8 at 3:30 pm ET. Round 9, the second race of the weekend begins Sunday at 10:55 am. Live timing and scoring is available at www.livetiming.net/SCCA/VW/livetiming.asp.

-credit: volkswagen

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Series SCCA
Drivers Mark Pombo , Andy Lee , Andrew Novich , Jake Thompson