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Law Claims Miami GP Pole

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, March 6 2010

Grand Am LogoBy John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Jon Fogarty’s Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series pole qualifying streak was snapped Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway by a margin that redefines the term “miniscule.”

Darren Law claimed the Daytona Prototype pole for Saturday’s Grand Prix of Miami by touring the 2.3-mile, 11-turn road-course in Homestead, Fla., in 1 minute and 11.806-seconds at 115.311 mph _ or 0.033-seconds quicker than Fogarty’s hot lap. Law, driver of the No. 59 Brumos Porsche Riley, ended the five-race pole qualifying streak Fogarty had strung together in the No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Chevrolet Riley.

Fogarty, who will start second, had put the No. 99 car on-pole at the final five events last season. However, the “Red Dragon” did not run either of the two qualifying sessions for this year’s season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona last month after four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson crashed it heavily during practice. Fogarty’s numbers Friday were 1:11.839 at 115.258 mph.

Law’s lap, meanwhile, eclipsed Fogarty’s previous record of 1:12.879/113.613 mph set in qualifying at HMS last October. Law, who has replaced sports car-racing legend Hurley Haywood as co-driver with David Donohue in the No. 59, used some last-minute advice from his mentor to lock down the pole.

“Prior to going out, Hurley told me to get in the car and visualize the track,” said Law, who bagged his only previous pole at HMS in 2005. “I kind of blew it off, but I did get in the car early and tried to visualize it. Then we went out and won the pole _ and Hurley’s taking all the credit for it.”

Haywood won last October’s Grand Prix as a late substitute in the No. 59, co-driving with Joao Barbosa. Haywood retired from active competition following the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona _ a race he won a record five times. He remains active in the sport as an official with Brumos Racing.

Law led a nine-driver assault on Fogarty’s five-month old HMS Daytona Prototype track record in preparation for the two-hour, 45-minute race that will take the green flag at 5 p.m. ET (SPEED). The race is the second on the 12-event schedule.

Fogarty ended 2009 by winning the pole in six of the final seven races. He briefly took the top position from Law Friday, but the Porsche driver ran another quick lap to regain the point.

“It was a pretty good qualifying session and we were being real conscientious of taking care of the equipment and not putting too many laps on our tires,” said Fogarty, who shared the 2007 and 2009 DP championships with Alex Gurney. “We turned our quick time on our third lap to take the pole at that point and then immediately pitted. In retrospect, I think we would have benefitted from perhaps staying out one more lap. I think we would have had a little bit more heat in the tires, but who knows. “It’s super-tight up front and I felt like that lap was pretty good. We had it for a bit there but then Darren did a good job and got us. The Brumos guys are right there and super-fast. ”

Gurney also was on pace Friday, turning the day’s top practice lap of 1:11.844/115.250 mph. “It was a good day and kind of unexpected, really, and we rolled off the truck super-fast,” Gurney said. “We had a little bit of a messed-up qualifying session but we’re fine for the race and we feel good about the car. We’ll try to work on it some more on old tires in final practice (35 minutes Saturday morning). Tire management is always an issue at Homestead and the second half of every stint will be really exciting to watch.”

Taking third was Brian Frisselle at 1:12.079/114.874 mph in the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley co-driven by Michael Valiante. Starting fourth will be Memo Rojas in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates entry after a lap in 1:12.166/114.735 mph in the BMW Riley he shares with Scott Pruett. Fifth on the grid belongs to Ricky Taylor in the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara co-driven by Max Angelelli at 1:12.282/114.551 mph.

Also eclipsing the former track record were Ryan Hunter-Reay in the No. 95 Level 5 Motorsports BMW Riley co-driven by Scott Tucker; Mark Wilkins in the No. 61 AIM Autosport Pacific Mobile Ford Riley co-driven by Burt Frisselle; Buddy Rice in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Porsche Coyote shared by Antonio Garcia and Rolex 24 At Daytona winner Terry Borcheller in the No. 9 Action Express Racing Porsche Riley.

Borcheller and co-driver Barbosa won the Rolex 24 for Action Express. Ryan Dalziel, who also drove in that winning effort, will drive the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport BMW Riley for the remainder of the season, with Mike Forest qualifying 10th Friday in that car’s debut.

Banner Racing’s Paul Edwards claimed the pole in GT, taking the rebodied No. 07 Mobil 1 Corvette (formerly a Pontiac GXP) on a lap in 1:18.123/106.322 mph, as eight drivers eclipsed Nick Ham’s 2009 track mark. Edwards will be joined by motorcycle legend Scott Russell, a five-time winner of the Daytona 200 by Honda, America’s premier motorcycle race.

Jonathan Bomarito made his qualifying debut as regular co-driver in the Rolex 24 class-winning SpeedSource No. 70 Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8 by winning the outside pole at 1:18.132/105.975 mph. Sylvain Tremblay returns as co-driver of the 2007 Grand Prix of Miami winner.

Taylor, the 20-year-old son of three-time DP sports car racing champion and team-owner Wayne Taylor, made the most of his first qualifying effort for the SunTrust team during the 15-minute session to place fifth among 34 car-and-driver combinations competing Saturday. The younger Taylor became fulltime co-driver to Italian ace Angelelli this season, his third in the Rolex Series after debuting with the SunTrust team at the 2008 Rolex 24.

“The car hasn’t been great in practice, so far, but you can usually count on being able to at least pull out a good qualifying lap,” said Taylor, who will start Saturday’s race and then hand the SunTrust car over to Angelelli.

Saturday’s activities also include the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, March 6 2010
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