Series VIR qualifying report
BUFFOMANTE SNATCHES FORD RACING MUSTANG CHALLENGE POLE FROM CROSLAND BY 0.053 SECONDS AT VIR DANVILLE, Virgina, 24 April - After 20 minutes of exciting qualifying for round 3 of the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge at Virginia International Raceway, ...
BUFFOMANTE SNATCHES FORD RACING MUSTANG CHALLENGE POLE FROM CROSLAND BY 0.053 SECONDS AT VIR
DANVILLE, Virgina, 24 April - After 20 minutes of exciting qualifying for round 3 of the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge at Virginia International Raceway, Tony Buffomante emerged the pole-winner by one of the slimmest margins in Series history. With every driver utilizing the same BFGoodrich Tires-equipped Ford Mustang FR500S, the competition is close in Mustang Challenge, and the Saturday morning qualifying session was yet another example of that as the Series makes a debut visit to VIR.
After a trip of 3.27 miles, only 0.053 seconds separated Buffomante's No. 34 Capaldi Racing Mustang from Ben Crosland's No. 25 BBC Racing machine. It is the first pole position for both Buffomante and Capaldi Racing.
In what turned out to be a very tight battle, the top-5 were within half of a second. Pratt Cole, the early standard bearer, will start from the third position with Homestead double-pole winner Jason von Kluge (No. 19 JVK Motorsports) alongside in fourth position. George Winkler starts from the fifth place on the grid.
Overnight rain dampened the track, which was still in the process of drying as the 14 Mustangs set off.
"We never give up," said an elated Buffomante of Napierville, Illinois. "With the track still drying, I was able to stretch the tires 'golden lap' window. After running a few laps, I felt like we had something more so we bled the tire pressure and went out again. It was great lap and I owe a big thanks to everyone at Capaldi Racing and to my dad who all did a great job preparing the car."
Pratt Cole was the early leader in the session, followed by Dan Aweida and von Kluge. Just under five minutes in, the timing screen lit up with green arrows as the times at the top tumbled. First to jump to the top was Buffomante, only to be bettered seconds later by von Kluge, who was, in turn, bested once more by Cole's No. 88 RP Motorsports Mustang. He brought the standard down to 2:07.597 seconds.
At the midway point, it was 17 year old Crosland who leapt from fourth to first when he stopped the clock at 2:07.463 seconds. At that point it appeared that the young man from Salt Lake City, Utah would have his first Mustang Challenge pole. Buffomante, von Kluge and Winkler all improved on their personal best times trying to topple Crosland to no avail.
With only minutes remaining, Buffomante put it one last ditch effort to knock two-tenths of a second off his previous best time, and that lap, recorded at 2:07.410 seconds, would end the day as the best.
Crosland was so close, he could taste it.
"It's my best qualifying performance in this Series, so I'm really happy," Crosland said. "I put in a great flying lap, pushing as hard as I could.
"I'll be on the outside through turn 1, but then on the inside for the next two corners if I can stay alongside Tony (Buffomante). I think it's going to be a drag race all the way to the esses before it settles down," added Crosland in looking ahead to tomorrow's race.
Cole was disappointed to slip to third feeling he had the car to stay on top.
"We have a really fast car, but I made a mistake in reading the track conditions and timing my effort to match the window of the tire's best performance. I went early to bank a time in case we had some black flags, but when they didn't happen, I probably didn't cool my tires back down enough to go for another run when the track was getting faster," said Cole, also hailing from Salt Lake City.
Looking ahead to tomorrow's race, the consensus among the drivers is that while the track offers two or three good passing zones, the general tightness among the field will dictate that mistakes by the driver ahead may be the only way to gain a position.
Completing the top-10 are series debut runner Kyle Gimple (No.12 Icy Racing / 82 Autowerks), Dan Aweida (No. 17 Flying Horse Motorsports), David Rosenblum (No.82 Icy Racing . 82 Autowerks), Steve Phillips (No. 22 Capaldi Racing) and Brad Adams (No.75 RP Motorsports).
Rounding out the 14-car field are John Scarlett (No. 44 SpeedWorks R&D), Richard Golinello (No. 50 R&C Racing), Robert Korzen (No. 11 Elite Classics Racing) and Pete Crosby (No.64 Cro-Pro Racing).
Tomorrow's race will be the first Mustang Challenge start for Gimple, Rosenblum, and Korzen.
The green flag flies Sunday, April 25 at at 1:40 PM EDT with live timing and scoring available at mustangchallenge.com.