GRAND AM NEWS: Braun Breaks Track Record En Route to Third Career Rolex Series Pole at VIR

Photo by John Thawley ALTON, Va. (April 28, 2007) – With a best lap at 1:45.003 (112.111 mph), 18-year-old phenom Colin Braun earned his third career Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve and will start from the inside of the front row for Sunday’s VIR 400 at Virginia International Raceway (SPEED, Live, 1:00 p.m. ET).

En route to the pole position, Braun established a new Daytona Prototype lap record at the 3-27-mile circuit, breaking the previous record of 1:45.447 (111.639 mph) that his current co-driver, Max Papis, which he established in 2004 when he shared the Daytona Prototype championship with Scott Pruett. Braun owns two career Rolex Series race victories, but he and Papis enter the VIR 400 still looking for their first win after a best result of second in Mexico City last month.

“We didn’t have that great of a setup when we started, and even this morning, but my engineer and Max turned this car into something that works really well,” Braun said. “We worked at it hard, and I’ve got to give those guys thanks for giving me a great car. Right now, I think the car is really good, and that Pontiac engine is really strong too. As for our changes tomorrow, it’s going to be really tough here because the tires seem to fall off pretty quickly. It’s going to be hard to keep the tires underneath us for a long length of time, so you need to keep an eye out on those and pay attention to what you have until the end.”

Starting second will be Jon Fogarty in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley with a best lap at 1:45.153 (111.951 mph). The No. 99 machine has now qualified on the front row for all four 2007 Rolex Series races, with Fogarty qualifying second in each of the past three and co-driver Alex Gurney taking the pole position for the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona. Fogarty joined the No. 99 team for the first time at VIR last year and he and Gurney earned the team’s first race victory this year in Mexico City.

“We got behind a few cars there at the end, but once we got around them, I was able to challenge Colin a little bit for the top spot,” Fogarty said. “It’s great to be on the front row, but at the same time, I would have liked to have started on the pole. We have a lot more opportunities throughout the year, so I think it’s bound to happen. (Teammate) Alex (Gurney) has one pole, but I haven’t yet, so he’s got me 1-0 there. I’m looking forward to the race. Colin and I had not so much a good battle, but a good race in Mexico, and if things go that way again, I’ll be pretty pleased.”

Despite an off-course excursion that damaged the entire front section of the car on his last lap, Darren Law put the No. 58 Red Bull/Brumos Racing Porsche Riley third on the grid with a lap at 1:45.683 (111.390 mph). Law, co-driver David Donohue and all of their teammates on the historic Brumos Racing team are racing with heavy hearts this weekend following the death of team owner Bob Snodgrass last Tuesday. Law and Donohue are looking to bring the team its first Rolex Series victory since 2003.

“In all honesty, the car’s pretty good, and we qualified pretty well,” Law said. “We had a little problem there at the end where I got off course, and I’m sorry to the guys that they have to fix the car, but then again I’m not sorry because I was going for it. The car – we’re pretty happy with it. It’s all pretty superficial with the nose and the radiator off, but it just dug into the ground. I think it’s just a cosmetic fix, and we should be good for tomorrow. It has been an emotional week. We're happy with third, and right in the hunt, but it's a very tough weekend with the passing of Bob Snodgrass. We'd just like to bring home a good finish for him."

Memo Rojas placed the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley fourth on the grid with a lap at 1:45.709 (111.362 mph). Rojas is sharing the ride with 2004 Daytona Prototype co-champion and current points leader, Pruett, who has finished on the podium in all three of his previous Rolex Series appearances at VIR, including a victory in the 2005 event.

Jan Magnussen filled out the top five in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley with a lap at 1:45.790 (111.277 mph). Magnussen and co-driver Max Angelelli—the 2005 Daytona Prototype co-champion and 2004 VIR race winner—trail Pruett by just a single point, 93-92, heading into the VIR 400, and the co-drivers have finished on the podium in all four of their starts this season and have finished inside the top five in their last 10 races together. However, it has been almost a full year since Angelelli and Magnussen have celebrated a victory, which last came at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last May.

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