For the sixth time in as many races this season, the #99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Pontiac Riley will start on the front row of a Grand-Am Rolex Series race, as Alex Gurney earned the pole for Saturday's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International.
Gurney – who shares the car with co-driver Jon Fogarty – notched a speed of 117.831mph during qualifying for the team's third pole of 2007, adding to his top spot at the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona and Fogarty's fastest at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The team has not started worse than second this season.
“Our car works very well here,” said Gurney, who only took three laps during the 15-minute session, “It was a pleasure to drive it. We've had some continuity with our drivers and the team this season, which is scary for a lot of other teams, and our engineer and the rest of the crew keep finding little bits here and there. Jon and I are scraping for every last little bit, and Pontiac obviously does a great job as does Riley. We've got the whole package; everything really adds up.”
Starting alongside Gurney will be 2004 Sahlen's Six Hour co-winner and current championship leader Scott Pruett, who set a speed of 117.308mph in the #01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley.
“No question, this is going to be an exciting race for the fans,” the veteran said, “We're back to racing with everybody, which makes it more exciting for us and more exciting for the fans. I like it that way. The #99 car, they've set the pace all year long. We went out on old tyres and we've been good on old tyres. We came back to qualify second, and I'm happy for the entire TELMEX crew. We have a great group of guys and a great strategy, and the pit-stops this year have all been picture perfect.”
Row two will feature two other cars who have won races this season. Patrick Long, in the #23 Alex Job Racing/Ruby Tuesday Pontiac Crawford, set a speed of 117.201mph and will start third, while Max Angelelli, who won at Virginia International Raceway, will start fourth after posting a lap at 117.097mph in the #10 SunTrust Pontiac-Riley. The Italian shares the car with team owner Wayne Taylor and former F1 test driver Jonathan Cochet this weekend.
Rounding out the top five is teenage stand-out Colin Braun, who lapped the track at 117.052mph in the #75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley. Braun, who shares the car with 2004 Sahlen's Six Hour co-winner Max Papis, was the quickest of all the non-winners this season.
In the GT class, Paul Edwards – who was also among the fastest in Friday's practice sessions – claimed the first pole of this season for the Pontiac GXP.R after lapping the track at 107.535mph, nearly a mile an hour faster than the previous track record set in 2004.
“It's a new car and a new team, and this is the first pole for the new car, so it's quite a day for us, especially coming off a victory at Lime Rock,” Edwards said, “Everyone is starting to gel and we're really excited. Grand-Am has made some nice rule changes for us that have really narrowed the gap for the competitors.”
The #74 Tafel Racing Rembrandt Charms Porsche GT3 driver Wolf Henzler will start second after he posted a lap of 107.430mph, while the top five in class is filled out by the #87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche, the #30 Racers Edge Motorsports Pontiac and the #69 SpeedSource FXDD Mazda RX-8. Nick Ham and Sylvain Tremblay, piloting the #70 SpeedSource Mazdaspeed Mazda RX-8, will start seventh in the GT class, having held at least a share of the points lead since winning round two in March at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.