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Forgarty On Pole in Grand-Am

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Saturday, July 18 2009

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Jon Fogarty turned a lap of 1:21.057 (102.150 mph) in Saturday’s qualifying to capture the pole position for Sunday’s Porsche 250 presented by Legacy Credit Union at Barber Motorsports Park.

The race represents Round 8 of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.

The top three contenders for the Daytona Prototype championship swept the top three positions. Memo Rojas was second with a lap of 1:21.209 (101.959 mph), while Brian Frisselle timed in third quickest at 1:21.273 (101.897 mph).

The race is set to take the green flag at 2 p.m. CDT (SPEED live, 3 p.m. ET).

In Acxiom GT qualifying, Leh Keen edged Joe Foster for the pole as the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche GT3 shared by Keen and Dirk Werner is looking for its fourth consecutive victory.

Fogarty captured his second pole of the season in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley. His run came after co-driver Alex Gurney had an off-course excursion into a tire barrier in the final minute of morning practice, and the team rebuilt the car in time for the qualifying session. Fogarty and Gurney enter the race third in the Daytona Prototype points. Rojas and Scott Pruett, co-drivers of the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley, lead with 199 points, followed by Frisselle and Max Angelelli with 198 and the GAINSCO duo with 196.

“It was everything I could do,” Fogarty said. “It was tight in qualifying. We had an incident in the previous practice (traced to an alternator failure which locked up the steering), but the crew did a great job getting it back together. It was a white-knuckler there -  I was hanging it out. But that’s what you have to do in this series.”

Rojas leads the series with three poles in five qualifying attempts, while both the GAINSCO and TELMEX teams have two victories apiece.

“It was a good run for us, because we were struggling yesterday in practice,” Rojas said. “The car is pretty good right now, and I think it will be good for the race.”

Memo Gidley was fourth fastest in qualifying, running a lap of 1:21.290 (101.858 mph) in the No. 77 McDonald’s Ford Dallara, while Antonio Garcia will start fifth after qualifying the No. 09 Spirit of Daytona Porsche Coyote at 1:21.516 (101.575 mph).

Romain Dumas, involved in a practice accident Friday that badly damaged the No. 12 Verizon Wireless Porsche Riley, came back to qualify seventh despite a very sore left ankle. The team sent to its Mooresville, N.C. shops to spare parts and worked until 3 a.m. to complete repairs. IndyCar Series driver Ryan Briscoe was entered as a third driver as a precautionary measure, but the team determined he will not be needed for the race. Penske Racing is still seeking its first victory in Rolex Series competition.

“It still hurts, but it was easier to drive than I thought – because I hurt all night,” Dumas said. “The cars are very close in qualifying – we will rely on Penske strategy in the pits and hopefully pass some cars there.”

Keen Edges Three Mazdas to Claim First Pole of 2009

Leh Keen ran a lap of 1:28.552 (93.504 mph) to leapfrog a trio of Mazdas in a razor-tight Acxiom GT qualifying session. A mere .027 seconds separated the top four cars.

It was Keen’s first pole of the year, as he and Werner seek their fourth consecutive victory.

“We were terrible in practice yesterday, and changed the shocks three times,” Keen said. “Things weren’t very good. But we got the best out of the situation today. On my first hot lap, the car felt good, and then everything went perfect on my next lap. Even the tires were perfect. I’m very excited and happy for the team – they stayed up late and made a lot of changes making it right.”

Joe Foster briefly held the pole in the No. 40 Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 before being nipped by Keen, running a lap of 1:28.559 (93.497 mph). He will co-drive in the race with Charles Espenlaub, as regular co-driver Patrick Dempsey will miss the race due to a conflict in the Grey’s Anatomy filming schedule.

“It was an exciting qualifying session,” Foster said. “We’re still struggling with tire wear, but you don’t really worry about tire wear in qualifying and we gave it everything we could. I threw it off the road a few times, through the gravel and the dirt, and it definitely was a good lap.”

Starting on the second row will be SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 teammates Nick Ham and Jeff Segal – who both were atop the speed chart twice in the 15-minute qualifying session. Ham ran a lap of 1:28.564 (93.492 mph) in the No. 70 Castrol Syntec entry co-driven by Sylvain Tremblay, while Segal times in at 1:28.579 (93.476 mph) in the No. 69 FXDD car shared with Emil Assentato.

Sunday’s schedule opens with a KONI Sports Car Challenge Grand Sport race at 8:20 a.m.

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Saturday, July 18 2009
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