GRAF LEADS ROCKETSPORTS SWEEP OF CLEVELAND QUALIFYING CLEVELAND (June 24, 2005) - German rookie Klaus Graf won his second consecutive Trans-Am pole Friday, leading a Rocketsports Racing sweep of the top three qualifying positions...
GRAF LEADS ROCKETSPORTS SWEEP OF CLEVELAND QUALIFYING
CLEVELAND (June 24, 2005) - German rookie Klaus Graf won his second consecutive Trans-Am pole Friday, leading a Rocketsports Racing sweep of the top three qualifying positions for tomorrow's Trans-Am on the Tarmac at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland. Graf, driving the No. 7 Jaguar R Performance XKR, turned in a 1:14.343-minute time (101.981 miles per hour) to win the pole.
Graf's teammates Paul Gentilozzi (No. 1 Jaguar R Performance XKR) and Tomy Drissi (No. 5 Fantastic Four - The Movie Jaguar) were second and third fastest, respectively. Joey Scarallo (No. 06 Group A Wheels/Autotrend/Toyo Tires Chevrolet Corvette) and Max Lagod (No. 83 Hypermax Chevrolet Corvette) completed the top five.
Graf will start fifth Saturday due to Trans-Am's Fast Five® Qualifying format, which inverts the top five in each Trans-Am race, while Lagod will roll off first.
"This place looks easy, but it's really tricky," said Graf, who earns three bonus points for the pole. "You can do a lot of things with the car, on the different racing surfaces. Where you position your car on the track is the key. I was happy to be able to use Paul (Gentilozzi's) experience here.
"It's great to win the second pole position in a row. I'm sure it will be a great show tomorrow."
Gentilozzi, who will start fourth tomorrow, recovered from a crash during final practice earlier today to lay down the runner-up effort. Gentilozzi will make his 200th start tomorrow, and, if he wins, he will take sole possession of the all-time Trans-Am win record. He's currently tied with Mark Donohue with 29 career wins.
"Shunts and us at Cleveland seem to be a natural thing, especially after last year," quipped Gentilozzi, who crashed in qualifying here last year in virtually the same place on Cleveland's 2.106-mile circuit. "We hurt the left front of the car. I was being careful, and was trying to position myself, but it didn't work out. It's important for Klaus to win the pole and get the bonus points. He is leading Jaguar toward the championship and we needed points for them. I'm just going to follow along tomorrow and take whatever scraps they leave."
Drissi was happy with his third-place qualifying effort.
"We had a couple of little problems and the guys worked so hard to put the car back together," said Drissi. "My thanks go to the Rocketsports guys. I didn't think it was that good of a lap. I found out it was third, so I came into the pits. I didn't want to put any more laps on the tires than necessary. I could have moved forward in the grid, but the guys ahead of me put a lot of laps on their tires, so they might have some trouble."
Final practice is scheduled for tomorrow at 9 a.m. The Trans-Am on the Tarmac, Round 3 of the 2005 Trans-Am Championship and part of the Grand Prix of Cleveland presented by U.S. Bank weekend, is scheduled for tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. Saturday's race will air on a tape-delayed basis, Sunday, July 3 at 3 p.m. EDT on SPEED Channel.
The Trans-Am Series features closed-fendered, production-based, V-8-powered sports cars, competing on permanent road courses, and temporary street and airport circuits throughout North America. The Trans-Am Series is America's oldest continuously running road racing series and celebrates its 40th consecutive year of competition in 2005.