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Fogarty Wins Pole At Mid-Ohio

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 17 2011

Jon Fogarty put the "Red Dragon" on the GRAND-AM pole. (File photo courtesy of the Grand-Am Series)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

Qualifying ace Jon Fogarty claimed his second consecutive and third overall GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series pole Friday during time trials for Saturday’s season-ending EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

Fogarty, of Bob Stallings Racing, edged Ricky Taylor of Wayne Taylor Racing for the second straight race with a record lap time of 1:16.504 at 106.253 mph in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley he co-drives with Alex Gurney. Fogarty topped Taylor (1:16.605 at 106.113 mph) by 0.101-seconds while breaking Memo Rojas’ existing mark by more than one second. Fogarty also extended his all-time Daytona Prototype qualifying record to 19 career poles.

“We had to really push hard to get that time,” said Fogarty, who ended a six-race pole-winning streak by Taylor last month at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. “I don’t know if two makes a streak, but maybe we can keep the streak going into next year. We have great weather here at Mid-Ohio _ dry and cool. Normally it gets really hot in a Daytona Prototype, but in conditions like these, it’s really comfortable.”

Despite the favorable cockpit conditions, Fogarty said his pole run around the 2.258-mile, 13-turn natural terrain road-course was far from easy.

“It was a handful,” said Fogarty, who won his first pole of the season at Miami in March. “I was surprised the times were as quick as they were. The pressures and the temperatures of the tires I don’t think were necessarily synchronized at the time that I needed to do a fast lap, so it was a handful. So we pushed and had just enough to take the pole. Happy to be up there; it wasn’t easy, but it shouldn’t be.”

The 2 hour, 45-minute timed sprint race can be seen live on SPEED at 3 p.m. (EDT). Radio coverage will be provided by Motor Racing Network and Sirius Channel 94 beginning with pre-race activities at 2:45 p.m. Live timing and scoring during all on-track sessions can be found at www.grand-am.com, and now on mobile devices at m.grand-am.com.

Saturday starts with a morning warm-up final practice at 8:40 a.m., the only on-track activity for the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series before the green flag for the schedule’s 12th and final event.

“I think one of the most important parts of the weekend just happened, because qualifying here at Mid-Ohio is so super-important,” said Taylor, who will start the finale before handing the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Chevrolet Dallara to veteran co-driver Max Angelelli. “I try my hardest every weekend, not just because we didn’t get the pole in Montreal, but because this track is so important for track position. It adds a lot of pressure because you want to get the pole and you want to start in front just so you can try and control the race from there.

“We definitely had a great car today. We improved it a lot and I think it’ll be an interesting race. It’s going to be tough, so I think we’ll have to pull some moves on strategy to see what we can do to get around the No. 99.”

Starting third will be the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Chevrolet Coyote with Antonio Garcia and Paul Edwards (1:17.501 at 104.886 mph), followed by the Doran Racing No. 77 Ford Dallara of Burt Frisselle and Brian Frisselle (1:17.872 at 104.387 mph). Rounding out the top five is Michael Shank Racing’s No. 23 Ford Riley with Mark Blundell and Zak Brown (1:17.890 at 104.363 mph).

Rojas, co-driver with Scott Pruett of the championship-leading No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley, qualified seventh with a lap of 1:18.001 at 104.214 mph. Angelelli and Taylor trail Pruett and Rojas by 20 points in the driver’s championship while SunTrust trails the No. 01 team by the same margin in the team title chase.

Ganassi’s No. 01 juggernaut can clinch the title simply by taking the green flag at the outset of Saturday’s race. Rojas, slated to start the race in the No. 01, also needs to complete 30 minutes behind the wheel in order to clinch the driver’s championship for himself and Pruett for the second year in a row.

“As far as the driver championship, we have to try and win the race, as always, and see where that gets us,” Taylor said. “But one big goal we have is to try and lock down the engine manufacturer championship for Chevrolet. All we have to do there is finish ahead of the No. 01. All in all, it’s going to be another big day (Saturday).” Chevrolet leads BMW by two points in the manufacturer’s championship.

Fogarty and Gurney are third in the team championship standings with 304 points, a 12-point margin over the fourth-place No. 5 Action Express Porsche Riley.

Fogarty and Gurney scored back-to-back EMCO Gears Classic victories at Mid-Ohio in 2007-08. They will be looking for their third win at the track and third of the season after winning at Montreal and in July at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in California.

“We had a lot of confidence going in,” Gurney said. “The car has been working really good the last few races and we have always had really good cars here at Mid-Ohio. We rolled off the truck really quick this morning and were quickest in both practices. It was a little closer in qualifying than we had thought, but Jon got the job done, put up a really good lap time, and we are in good shape. We did a few long runs in practice, so everything is shaping up nicely.”

In GT qualifying, Ronnie Bremer put the No. 57 Stevenson Chevrolet Camaro GT.R on pole. His lap in 1:25:092 at 95.530 mph earned Bremer’s first Rolex Series pole and the fifth No. 1 GT starting position for Stevenson Motorsports this season.

Starting second will be Boris Said behind the wheel of the No. 31 Marsh Racing Corvette, with Dan Herrington in third in the No. 07 Banner Racing Camaro GT.R.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 17 2011
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