Grand AM »

Grand-Am: Record-breaking Gurney takes Rolex pole.

Forty-five years after his father won the first sportscar race at Daytona International Speedway, Alex Gurney took pole position for the Grand-Am season-opener at the same venue.

Gurney Jr set a blistering pace to claim top spot in qualifying for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, but had to battle potential polesitters throughout the 15-minute timed session. Top spot changed hands several times before Gurney emerged at the top of the list with a lap at 1min 43.475secs in the #99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Riley-Pontiac Riley he shares with Jon Fogarty Jimmy Vasser and team owner Stallings.

“This is a big thrill, for me personally and for the team,” Gurney said, “There's so many stars in this race, great cars and great drivers, I feel like I've come a long way to be able to be here.

"I'm happy for the team, who've put a lot of effort into their work to make this pole possible. It would be awesome to follow this up with a win - [the Rolex 24] is the crown jewel of the series, but qualifying really doesn't matter that much, it's really just for bragging rights. We'll be happy with it for a day or so but, beyond that, we've got to run 24 straight hours before we can win.”

Gurney's lap was more than half a second quicker than the previous Daytona Prototype track record, and had to be to hold off the ever-present #10 SunTrust Riley-Pontiac of former racewinner and series champion Max Angelelli. The Italian posted his best lap at 1min 43.480secs, but agreed with Gurney that qualifying position counted for little in a 24-hour race.

“It's going to be very nice to start on the front row, - the pictures on the posters before next year's race will look so nice!" he joked, "Other than that, the pole in a 24-hour race doesn't mean a lot. If you remember last year, I started last - dead last - and I was in second position when I got out of the car after my first stint. But then we crashed [during the fourth hour] and that was the end of the race for us.

"We learned a lot from last year that continues to help us in our preparation. Once it starts, it's just a matter of staying on the track, making no mistakes, driving an easy pace and staying on the lead lap until the sun comes up on Sunday. That's when the real racing begins.”

Marc Goossens qualified third for the Lowe's Riley-Matthews Motorsports team that split away from SunTrust at the end of last season. The Belgian posted a lap of 1min 43.516secs in the #91 Riley-Pontiac to ensure that the same chassis-engine combination filled the top three spots.

“Everyone keeps saying that it's a 24-hour race and [qualifying] is not important – but I think it is,” Goossens said, disagreeing with the front row starters, “You have to be up there from the beginning, especially with the number of cars on track, there are going to be some yellows. You need to be up there constantly and you can't afford to drop back too far. I think it is still important to be in the top-five cars.”



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Max Angelelli / Jordan Taylor. GRAND-AM Championship Weekend Presented by BMW at Lime Rock Park. 2013 Grand AM Rolex Sports Car Series
Max Angelelli / Jordan Taylor. Continental Tire Sports Car Festival. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. 2013 Grand AM Rolex Sports Car Series
Action. VisitFlorida.com Sports Car 250 at Road America. Grand AM Rolex Sports Car Series [Pic credit: Grand AM]
Starworks Motorsport BMW/Riley duo Brendon Hartley and Scott Mayer celebrate their first Grand AM Rolex Sports Car Series victory at Road America [Pic credit: Grand AM]
Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor drive the #10 Velocity Worldwide Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype to victory Saturday, April 6, 2013 in the third race of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevrolet)
Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor drive the #10 Velocity Worldwide Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype (left) to victory Saturday, April 6, 2013 in the third race of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. Alex Gurney and Jo Fogarty, drivers of the #99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP (right) finish in second place. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevrolet)
John Edwards and Robin Liddell, drivers of the # 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R., race to victory Saturday, April 6, 2013 in the Grand Touring (GT) class of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevrolet)
Juan Pablo Montoya, Memo Rojas, Scott Pruett and Charlie Kimball, co-drivers of the #01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates TELMEX/Target Ford BMW Riley celebrate their win in victory lane at the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on January 27, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Rolex Series action [Pic credit: Grand-Am]
Alex Popow and Sebastian Bourdais, drivers of the #2 Ford Riley, celebrate in Victory Lane after wininng the Grand-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2012, in Indianapolis, Ind. (Photo Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Alex Popow and Sebastien Bourdais, drivers of the #2 Soloson Ford Riley, celebrate after winning the Grand-AM Rolex Sports Car Series inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2012, in Indianapolis, Ind. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The winning #60 Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Ford Riley car is brought into victory lane after a gruelling 50th anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona. [Picture Credit: Daytona International Speedway]
Action Express win the Rolex 24 [Pic credit: Grand Am]
Derek Johnston [Pic credit: Grand Am]
Vic Elford, the 2010 Rolex 24 At Daytona Grand Marshal (Photo credit: Motorsports Images and Archives)
The No. 09 Spirit of Daytona Porsche Coyote that will be tested by 2009 Radical European Masters Champion Derek Johnston at Virginia International Raceway
Fogarty/Gurney - GAINSCO Racing [Pic credit: Grand Am]
Max Angelelli and Brian Friselle win at Daytona [Pic credit: Grand Am Media]

Start the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.




© 1999 - 2014 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.