VW Jetta: Series Road Atlanta qualifying report

SIERRA LENDLE WINS VOLKSWAGEN JETTA TDI CUP POLE AT ROAD ATLANTA Final race of the season to begin Saturday at 9 am ET Braselton, GA (September 25, 2009) -- Less than 24 hours remain before the 2009 SCCA Pro Racing Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup ...

SIERRA LENDLE WINS VOLKSWAGEN JETTA TDI CUP POLE AT ROAD ATLANTA

Final race of the season to begin Saturday at 9 am ET

Braselton, GA (September 25, 2009) -- Less than 24 hours remain before the 2009 SCCA Pro Racing Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Champion is crowned, and the drivers took to the track today at Road Atlanta for the final practice and qualifying sessions of the season. At the end of the day, it was Juan Pablo Sierra Lendle who scored his first pole position in the series.

The morning practice session saw many of the Championship contenders swapping positions on the top of the speed charts. Jake Thompson set the quickest time of the session (1:41.053 / 90.487 mph), but made hard contact with the tire barrier in Turn 5 only a few laps later. The impact damaged the Calgary, Alberta native's car beyond repair, ending his weekend.

"This is a huge disappointment for me," Thompson said. "I wanted to end the season on a positive note, and this obviously isn't what I was looking for. I knew that I was capable of turning fast laps, and I was pushing hard out there. I just lost it. I have nobody to blame but myself, but I hope to return to the series in 2010 for another try at winning the Championship."

During the early evening qualifying session, multiple drivers found themselves sitting on top of the leaderboard, but when the checkered flag fell on the session, it was Juan Pablo Sierra Lendle who won the pole with a time of 1:41.158 (90.393 mph). The Puebla, Mexico native becomes the seventh polesitter of the season, with Joey Atterbury and Mark Pombo rounding out the top three spots on the grid. Series Championship leader Timmy Megenbier will start eighth tomorrow, while second place Andy Lee will begin seventh. Megenbier carries a 39-point lead into tomorrow's race and can claim the title by placing 10th or better, regardless of how Lee finishes.

"It's taken me two years in the series to score my first pole position, so this feels really good right now," Sierra Lendle said. "I think that the biggest difference for me today was the mental part. I've had some strong runs in the past few races, and things change when you start to believe that you have a chance to run up front. I just hope that I can keep it there tomorrow. My goal in every race is to get on the podium, so that's what I'm shooting in the race."

The two guest drivers joining the series at Road Atlanta this weekend got their first taste of Jetta TDI Cup action today. Journalist Jeremy Shaw led the way with a best time of 1:43.701 (88.112 mph). Meanwhile, Aerosmith guitarist, Brad Whitford, had a best lap of 1:51.355 (82.115).

"I've done some racing in the past, but today was a totally different experience for me," Whitford said. "During the first session, I just wasn't comfortable, but thanks to the help of the other drivers and the series instructors, I was able to make some big strides in qualifying and had a lot of fun in the car. I wasn't nearly as quick as some of these young guns, but I was able to stay on track for the most part and didn't ruin anyone else's day, so I consider today a success."

-credit: vw

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Series SCCA
Drivers Jeremy Shaw , Mark Pombo , Andy Lee , Juan Pablo Lendle , Joey Atterbury , Jake Thompson