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Starworks, Brumos Win Rolex Poles

| , RacinToday.com Thursday, January 26 2012

Ryan Dalziel won the pole for the Rolex 24 on Thursday. (Photos courtesy of the Rolex GRAND-AM Sports Car Series)

Qualifying for the 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona produced an upset Thursday, with the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Ford Riley capturing the Daytona Prototype pole for the twice-around-the-clock classic at Daytona International Speedway.

Ryan Dalziel of Orlando turned a fast lap of 1 minute, 41.119-seconds and 126.741 mph on the 3.56-mile, 12-turn road-course. Joining Dalziel on the front row was the new No. 10 SunTrust Racing Corvette Dallara DP driven by Max Angelelli, who posted numbers of 1 minute, 41.240-seconds and 126.590 mph.

The GT pole was claimed by Brumos Racing Porsche driver Andrew Davis with numbers of 1:49.342 at 117.210 mph in the famed No. 59.

Green flag for Round 1 of the 13-event GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series schedule will drop Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET, with 15½ hours of live television coverage on SPEED beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET/11 p.m. PT. A total of 60 car/driver combinations are scheduled to start.

“I’m a little bit surprised,” Dalziel said of his pole-clinching effort. “I thought the Chevys were going to be the cars to beat and I think they are going to be the cars to beat. But we put together a really good lap.”

Starworks Motorsport overcame a morning engine failure that wiped out an entire practice session. “Maybe sometimes the underdogs aren’t supposed to beat the powerhouse teams,” Dalziel said. “But what has happened at Starworks the past four or five months is that we’ve tried to create a powerhouse team, hired the right people and put together an unbelievable car. I think the No. 8 car is not only going to be a contender this weekend, but a contender the entire year.”

Dalziel will team with Allan McNish, Lucas Luhr, Alex Popow and Enzo Potolicchio in the No. 8

Top GT qualifiers Andrew Davis and Jeff Segal.

entry, which was assembled in the last few weeks. “I think it’s just an incredible job these guys have done to put our car together in such a short amount of time,” Dalziel said. “We were the last Riley to be delivered to a team. With everything that has gone on the past couple of days for us, to get the pole is very rewarding. But it’s a long race.”

Angelelli tried to reclaim pole in the SunTrust Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette he is sharing with Ricky Taylor and IZOD IndyCar Series star Ryan Briscoe. Angelelli, who won the 2005 edition of this marathon co-driving with Wayne Taylor and Emmanuel Collard, got to within 0.121-seconds of Dalziel’s mark almost immediately after the pole time had been set.

Angelelli posted the ninth consecutive front-row start for the SunTrust team, dating to May at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn. It is the sixth time in nine Rolex 24s the team has qualified on the front row.

“I can’t hide the fact that I am deeply disappointed at not winning the pole today,” said Angelelli, who was attempting to put the Corvette DP on-pole in its series debut. “This is the most important race of the year and I always want to start the biggest race from the pole. I wasn’t expecting to end up P2, but I still feel our car is very fast and I still feel that, for the 24-hour, our car will be the car to beat.

“I believe the key for everybody will be reliability with these new cars here this year. With the new cars, we have no idea what’s going to happen, what could happen. We’ve never run these cars longer than one hour at a time, and that would leave us 23 to go. So, I’m expecting issues for everybody.”

Starting on the second row will be the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley (126.312 mph) and the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP (126.242 mph). IndyCar star Scott Dixon wheeled the best of the Ganassi Riley BMWs into the third spot, while the Corvettes of Alex Gurney and Antonio Garcia (Spirit of Daytona) were next.

Gurney posted his team’s best Rolex 24 qualifying effort since winning pole for the 2007 race in the new No. 99 Corvette DP. This weekend’s race is the seventh consecutive Rolex 24 for GAINSCO and sixth straight with Gurney and Jon Fogarty as lead drivers of the “Red Dragon.” Fellow-Californian Memo Gidley rounds out the driver lineup.

“I certainly was hoping to get the pole,” Gurney said. “Having been on top in the previous session, I thought we were pretty good, but the balance changed when we went to new tires. It just wasn’t quite enough. Anyway, we will put it behind us. Other than pole, it doesn’t really matter. The car is good and we figured out most of our reliability issues.”

Gurney gave the team not only its best qualifying result since the 2007 pole but also the No. 99’s first top-five starting birth since that top qualifying run.

“We just rolled out our race car for qualifying,” Fogarty said. “With the exception of a fuel load, that was our race car. That’s where it stands. Whether or not the other guys sprinkled a little extra hot sauce on it for qualifying, we don’t really know, but I am going to assume that a few of them did. Alex did a good job, and it’s not a bad place to start.”

GAINSCO’s best Rolex 24 result to-date came in the 2008 race, when Gurney and Fogarty were joined by NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson and open-wheel champion Jimmy Vasser for a second-place finish.

Ozz Negri completed the top six in his Michael Shank Racing Riley Ford in a time less than 0.7-seconds off the pole.

Two DP-class competitors experienced major issues on the opening day of practice and qualifying. The two-time-defending series-champion No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley of Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Graham Rahal and Joey Hand _ as well as the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP of Darren Law, David Donohue and Christian Fittipaldi _ had to change motors after early afternoon practice and did not make it out for qualifying. Both will start at the back of the DP field.

The GT class featured a back-and-forth battle between Davis’ No. 59 Brumos Porsche and the No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari and driver Jeff Segal. The front of the grid changed seemingly every lap of the 15-minute session before Davis’ lap at 117.210 mph. Segal’s top speed was 117.194 mph.

“That was an intense session,” said Davis, who was bumped from the provisional pole three times before regaining it for good with two minutes left. “I just pushed it as hard as I could from the first lap out. The Brumos crew, we struggled in the first couple of (practice) sessions. It just shows that Brumos Racing doesn’t stop fighting. That’s the best that car had been on balance.”

Davis will share the No. 59 with Marc Lieb, Leh Keen and veteran endurance ace Hurley Haywood. Andy Lally’s Porsche (1:49.388/117.161 mph) claimed the grid’s third spot.

In qualifying for Friday’s BMW Performance 200 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race, Shelby Blackstock, son of country music star Reba McIntyre, captured pole in the No. 51 Starstruck Entertainment Ford Mustang Boss 302 R at 109.051 mph. He will be joined on the front row by Jack Roush Jr., who ran 108.923 mph in the No. 61 Roush Performance Ford Mustang Boss 302 R.

Kia not only won its first pole in Street Tuner competition, but also swept the front row in qualifying. Denied the GT pole in the late stages of Rolex Series qualifying, Lally posted a lap of 101.222 mph in the No. 10 Kinetic/Kia Motors America Kia Forte Koup to capture his fifth career CTSCC pole _ breaking the DIS track record in the process. Teammate Mark Pombo ran his final lap in 101.138 mph to join Lally on the front row in the No. 12 entry.

Thursday’s qualifying leaders:

Positon (Class) Drivers/Car Time

1. (DP) Dalziel/McNish/Luhr/Popow/Potolicchio Riley Ford 1m41.119s

2. (DP) Angelelli/Taylor/Briscoe Corvette DP 1m41.240s

3. (DP) Dixon/Franchitti/McMurray/Montoya Riley BMW 1m41.463s

4. (DP) Gurney/Fogarty/Gidley Corvette DP 1m41.519s

5. (DP) Garcia/Gavin/Westbrook/Magnussen Corvette DP 1m41.611s

6. (DP) Negri/Pew/Wilson/Allmendinger Riley Ford 1m41.662s

7. (DP) Barbosa/Borcheller/Papis/France Corvette DP 1m42.074s

8. (DP) McDowell/Nasr/Yacaman/Gonzalez Riley Ford 1m42.414s

9. (DP) Hunter-Reay/Luhr/Mayer/Potolicchio/Scala Riley Ford 1m42.657s

10. (DP) Frisselle/Frisselle/Lowe/Tracy Dallara Ford 1m42.773s

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Thursday, 26 January 2012

Date: Jan. 26, 2012

| , RacinToday.com Thursday, January 26 2012
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