Rojas On Pole in Utah
By Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer
Memo Rojas, who clinched the 2010 Rolex Sports Car Series championship for owners Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates in Montreal, won a season-high fourth pole at Miller Motorsports Park in qualifying for the Utah 250. Rojas and co-driver Scott Pruett will each have to drive 30 minutes in the race to become co-champions.
Rojas drove his Riley-BMW to an average speed of 106.143 mph around the 3.048-mile, 15-turn road course west of Salt Lake City. He and Pruett will try to extend their record of eight wins this year aboard their Daytona Prototype in the season finale.
Defending pole and Utah 250 winner Jon Fogarty qualified his Riley-Chevrolet of GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing second, just 0.056 seconds off Rojas’ pace. Earlier this season, Fogarty complained about the advantage of the BMW engines versus the Chevy V-8’s after running Rojas off the track in Lime Rock and the Grand-Am subsequently added weight to the BMW engines while internal changes were made by the manufacturer. But it didn’t slow down the Chip Ganassi Racing team.
Saturday’s race marks the first time the Rolex series has used the Miller track’s shorter “outer course” which proved to be slightly quicker than the 4.486-mile, 24-turn configuration on which the Grand-Am record was 103.747 mph.
Driving the Sun Trust Racing Dallara-Ford, Ricky Taylor took third, nearly two tenths of a second behind the pole sitter. The Starworks Riley-BMW was third quickest in practice, but Mike Forest had contact on the track and the team, where Ryan Dalziel is the co-driver, did not get a chance to run the qualifying session. Burt Frisselle of AIM Autosport, qualified his Riley-Ford fourth and Antonio Garcia, in the Spirit of Daytona Coyote-Porsche, rounded out the top five qualifiers in Friday’s session.
Davy Jones, driving the Lola-Ford of Dyson Racing, qualified just ahead of the GT class winner in the team’s first Grand-Am outing with the new Daytona Prototype.
Eric Curran of Marsh Racing was the fastest qualifier among GT entries aboard the Whelen Corvette and will start 14th overall, followed by Adam Christodoulou in one of three SpeedSource Mazda RX-8’s. Curran, who will co-drive with Boris Said, posted a lap a full second faster than the Mazda in his final qualifying lap. Andrew Davis was third in the Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT-R. Sylvain Tremblay carries an eight-point deficit to GT points leaders and fellow SpeedSource drivers Emil Assentato and Jeff Segal into the finale and will start his Mazda RX-8 19th in the 30-car field.
Johnny O’Connell, a regular in the factory Corvette in the American Le Mans Series, will co-drive with Jordan Taylor in the Autohaus Motorsports Camaro. Montreal winners Paul Edwards and Scott Russell missed qualifying while Banner Racing exchanged the engine in their Corvette. Russell missed a shift in practice, forcing the team to switch power plants.
– Jonathan Ingram can be reached at email@example.comNo Comment