GRAND AM NEWS: Gurney, Edwards Score Poles For Saturday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen

Photo by John Thawley WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 8, 2007) – For the sixth time in as many races this season, the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Pontiac Riley will start on the front row in Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve competition, as Alex Gurney earned the pole Friday for Saturday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International.

Gurney – who shares the car with co-driver Jon Fogarty – notched a speed of 117.831 mph during qualifying for the team’s third pole position of 2007. Gurney, who sat atop the time charts in both of Friday’s practice session, will lead the field to the green flag for the six-hour classic, which begins at 11 a.m. Saturday at the 3.4-mile, 11-turn road course.

Gurney scored the pole in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, while Fogarty was fastest at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The team has not started worse than second, and the pair won their first career Daytona Prototype race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City. In addition, Gurney and Fogarty should have confidence heading into the race, as they also took the pole for the last race for the Daytona Prototypes at Watkins Glen last August.

“Our car works very well here,” said Gurney, who only took three laps during the 15-minute session. “It was a pleasure to drive it. We’ve had some continuity with our drivers and the team this season, which is scary for a lot of other teams, and our engineer and the rest of the crew keep finding little bits here and there. Jon and I are scraping for every last little bit, and Pontiac obviously does a great job as does Riley. We’ve got the whole package; everything really adds up.”

Starting alongside Gurney will be 2004 Sahlen’s Six Hour co-winner and current championship leader Scott Pruett in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley. Pruett, co-driving this year with Memo Rojas, set a speed of 117.308 mph. He said this should be one of the most exciting races yet for the Daytona Prototypes at the Glen.

“No question, this is going to be an exciting race for the fans,” said Pruett, who leads the championship standings by five points and anchored the winning Rolex 24 At Daytona team. “We’re back to racing with everybody, which makes it more exciting for us and more exciting for the fans. I like it that way. The 99 car, they’ve set the pace all year long. We went out on old tires and we’ve been good on old tires. We came back to qualify second, and I’m happy for the entire TELMEX crew. We have a great group of guys and a great strategy, and the pit stops this year have all been picture perfect.”

Row two will feature two other cars who have won races this season. Patrick Long, in the No. 23 Alex Job Racing/Ruby Tuesday Pontiac Crawford co-driven by defending Daytona Prototype champion and Sahlen’s Six Hour co-winner Jörg Bergmeister, set a speed of 117.201 mph and will start third. The pair won the most recent race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Max Angelelli, who won at Virginia International Raceway with co-pilot Jan Magnussen, will start fourth after setting a speed of 117.097 mph. This weekend, he will share the car with team owner Wayne Taylor and Formula 1 test driver Jonathan Cochet.

Rounding out the top five is teenage standout Colin Braun, who lapped the track at 117.052 mph in the No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley. Braun, sharing the car with 2004 Sahlen’s Six Hour co-winner Max Papis, was the quickest driver of all the non-winners this season.

In the GT class, Paul Edwards – who was also among the fastest in Friday’s practice sessions – claimed the first pole of this season for the Pontiac GXP.R after lapping the track at 107.535 mph, nearly a mile an hour faster than the previous track record holder set in 2004. He will share the No. 07 Banner Racing/Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R with Kelly Collins in Saturday’s race.

"It’s a new car and a new team, and this is the first pole for the new car, so it’s quite a day for us, especially coming off a victory at Lime Rock,” said Edwards. “Yeah, everyone is starting to gel and we’re really excited. Grand-Am has made some nice rule changes for us that have really narrowed the gap for the competitors.”

No. 74 Tafel Racing Rembrandt Charms Porsche GT3 driver Wolf Henzler will start second after he posted a lap of 107.430 mph. He will co-drive the car with New York native Eric Lux.

Filling out the remainder of the top five are No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Motorsports Marquis Jet/IPC Porsche GT3 driver and current points co-leader Dirk Werner (107.008 mph; co-driving with Bryce Miller and Craig Stanton), No. 30 Racers Edge Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R driver Lawson Aschenbach (106.739 mph; co-driving with Mark Pavan and Drew Staveley) and No. 69 SpeedSource FXDD Mazda RX-8 driver Jeff Segal (106.571 mph; co-driving with Emil Assentato and Nick Longhi).

Nick Ham and Sylvain Tremblay, piloting the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazdaspeed Mazda RX-8, will start seventh in the GT class. The pair has held at least a share of the point lead since winning round two in March at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.

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