Millville: GM Racing qualifying report

Pontiac Grand-Am Teams on Front Row in New Jersey Valiante and Davis to start on front row in DP and GT Millville, New Jersey, August 30, 2008 -- Pontiac Grand-Am Daytona Prototype (DP) and GT teams will start from the front row for tomorrow's ...

Millville: GM Racing qualifying report
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Pontiac Grand-Am Teams on Front Row in New Jersey
Valiante and Davis to start on front row in DP and GT

Millville, New Jersey, August 30, 2008 -- Pontiac Grand-Am Daytona Prototype (DP) and GT teams will start from the front row for tomorrow's running of the Grand-Am Rolex Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Supercar Life 250 to be run at New Jersey Motorsports Park tomorrow. Michael Valiante in the SunTrust Pontiac will start second in DP and Andrew Davis in the Stevenson Motorsport Pontiac GXP.R will also start in GT.

Pontiac leads manufacturer DP points chase Collins and Edwards lead GT points Liddell and Davis third in GT points Pontiac leads manufacturer standings in GT New track, first pro racing series to run at Thunderbolt Teams use to study track

New Jersey Motorsports Park has proven to be a work in progress. The all new facility and its 2.25-mile and 14-turns was just completed in early summer. The affects of dirt and dust clouds have been a factor for the teams trying to get baseline data to make their Pontiac racers go faster.

Valiante had the qualifying duties behind the wheel of their No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Dallara. The Canadian put in a time of 1:12.023 and will start from outside of the first row. Valiante is teamed with 2005 series winner Max Angelelli. The duo drove to their first win of the season just last weekend at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma.

"The car kept getting better," Valiante said. "We kept going quicker and quicker. On both of my fast laps, I was passing cars. It's great that we're starting on the front row, but I definitely think we had a pole car today because I didn't get the most out of it, catching traffic. The car was really consistent like it was in the qualifying at Sonoma. I think we have a really good race car. But it really would've been nice to be on the pole again. I think it's going to be a tough race. I don't think it's going to come down to speed at all. It's going to come down to more about who's got the most reliable car here, and about getting through traffic cleanly because it's unbelievable how tough it is to pass here. That's what it's going to come down to."

GAINSCO/Bob Stallings pilot Jon Fogarty showed early session speed with a time of 1:12.068. Fogarty and teammate Alex Gurney have been up and down the weekend's time sheets as they sort their Pontiac Riley for the race as well as negotiate the traffic around this tight new circuit.

"It's been a little bit of a mystery as to where we have been all weekend because it is so difficult to get a clear lap here," Fogarty said. "Personally, qualifying was my first clear laps of the weekend. We have kind of been all over the map on the timing sheets, but we really didn't have any true idea whether or not that was representative. But I think our qualifying effort shows we are mixing it up with everybody but the Ford No. 61. You have a bunch of cars within 1/10th and one guy pulling away, which is a little disconcerting. None the less, we have got a good race car and obviously we have a great team. We're looking in good shape for the race."

Nic Jonsson had the controls of the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola for qualifying. Jonsson put in a time of 1:12.111 and will start fifth for tomorrow's 1:00 p.m. start. Jonsson is teamed with Ricardo Zonta and the pair will be looking to give the Lola its first win in Grand-Am Rolex Series competition.

"I'm a little bit disappointed in today's qualifying position but I'm pretty happy with my lap," Jonsson said. "I certainly believe I could have gone a couple of tenths quicker, which would have put us in the front row. Unfortunately I ran into traffic both times I tried to slow down and get a clean lap while the tires were still at their peak. I ran into traffic so I couldn't really get those laps. Finally I got a lap in -- the very last lap -- and that was pretty good so we'll start fifth. I definitely think we've got a better car than fifth place, even in qualifying, but I know that we normally have a very good race car. I can't wait. I know I say this all the time. I can't wait for tomorrow's race because I think this is really a race track that we can win at tomorrow. I'm very confident that we are going to have a good run. Ricardo's been quick all week as well. The guys -- both Simon (Marshall, Race Engineer this weekend on the No. 76 car) and David (Brown) and have done a great job this week in getting the car dialed in. Basically it's been quick from the beginning, straight off the truck. We have a very good opportunity tomorrow. I think we have to take advantage of that and stay out of trouble and go, hopefully, and get another podium or a couple of podiums tomorrow."

Cheever Racing has been chasing the setup of their No. 16 Coyote Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Pontiac all weekend. Antonio Garcia qualified the black and gold Coyote in the ninth position with a time of 1:1:12.878. Garcia is teamed with new U.S. citizen Christian Fittipaldi.

"We have been struggling this weekend," Garcia said. "We have been the chasing the setup of the car. We are always guessing and then make big changes and sometimes we are not always right. The team is trying to be correct with the changes at this new track with no data, so we are doing the best that we can. We made a pretty big change for qualifying and it wasn't great."

Jim Matthews qualified his No. 91 Riley-Matthews Pontiac in 14th posting a time of 1:14.799. Matthews and Marc Goossens have shown speed all weekend, finishing the last practice session today in third.

"The car is good," Matthews said. "The track is really fun to drive. It just gets a little frustrating with how narrow the track is with the GT traffic out there. Also at the exits of turns three and four dirt and dust clouds get kicked up on the track nearly every lap."

Tracy Krohn qualified the No. 75 Krohn Lola in 15th delivering a time of 1:16.020. Krohn had a little drama in qualifying with a spin, but is happy with his effort. Krohn will turn the wheel of the green and blue Lola over to teammate Eric van de Poele.

"I thought the qualifying session went pretty well," Krohn said. "I think on my best lap though somebody went off in front of me and threw a bunch of crap on the track. I got some pick up on my tires and I spun it in the long sweep on the back side. But I got back on it and got an okay lap. The last lap was my quickest so it was a pretty good end to qualifying. I think the car is real good for tomorrow. I don't think there's anything I'd change at this point."

Andrew Davis drove the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R to a front row starting spot on the strength of his 1:19.261 lap time. Davis will start the red-white-and-blue GXP.R from outside the first row in second position. Davis and Robin Liddell have put together a charge toward the top of the GT points standings where they are currently third, just 16 points out of the top spot.

"The guys made a big change to the car after this morning's practice," Davis said. "I wasn't really happy with the car after the practice today, but the guys made some changes to the car that better suites me and I was able to make it payoff. The lap I put in was a good one, I really had to push to make the time. The team has done a great job all weekend as we have and we have a good race car for tomorrow."

Kelly Collins drove the No. 07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R to a third place starting position with a time of 1:19.270. Collins and teammate Paul Edwards are currently leading the GT series points chase. Collins and Edwards have started the weekend strong with the hopes of taking the points lead to the last race in three weeks to Utah.

"I popped a lap in there end to get us up to the second row," Collins said. "The car is better than this morning. Chuck (Houghton, Banner team engineer) made some changes after the morning session, I didn't even want to know what they were, but it paid off and the car was good. He made the rear-end tighter from this morning which is what we asked for. We have a very solid platform for the race."

PR1 Motorsports have come back strong after a nine-week layoff with driver Patrick Barrett giving the team their best qualifying effort of the season with a fourth. Barrett drove to a time of 1:19.280. Barrett will hand over the controls to teammate Mike Forest.

"It was a good session," Barrett said. "I never really got to put down the lap that I wanted to. I think I had some more left to put in a little better time, but every driver always wants just one more lap. I am satisfied with fourth, it is the best qualifying position the team has had so far this year. The car is great, we weren't hurting anywhere on the track. I think we are in for a very good day tomorrow."

Ryan Phinny, qualifying the No. 21 Connolly Motorsports Pontiac GTO.R, put in a time of 1:19.289 and will start fifth on the GT grid. Phinny and teammate Diego Alessi have shown speed all season and have a podium finish of third at Mid-Ohio.

"We were fast early in the session," Phinny said. "I wanted to save my tires for the race so we pitted early. I then wanted to go back out and have another shot at a fast time, but had a misunderstanding with the pit exit cones and had to perform two drive throughs. The car has gotten progressively better all weekend. I hope to have a strong race with Diego tomorrow."

The No. 06 Banner Racing Pontiac qualified by team owner Leighton Reese will start from the seventh row based on his qualifying time of 1:20.589. Reese is sharing the black and yellow GXP.R this weekend with Marc Bunting.

"I had one lap were I didn't have to pass anyone," Reese said. "The car is a lot better than it was this morning. I had a little entry loose at the beginning of the session, but the tires came in and it was good. I am able to dive deep into the corners. I probably had three or four tenths left out there, but the Banner Pontiac is good for the race."

Tim Lewis Jr. driving the Autohaus Motorsports No. 72 Pontiac GXP.R had an anxious moment with a sticking throttle but persevered to put in a time of 1:19.643 good for a fourth row starting position. Lewis is teamed with Terry Borcheller.

"The car was good," Lewis said. "The throttle stuck a little on me which for a driver is pretty unsettling. We have the Pontiac handling really well. I think the race will be about survival. We have the speed to stay up with the front runners in GT so that is no problem. We have a good ride for the race, I am going to try and keep four corners on it and turn it over to Terry."

-credit: gm racing

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