As temperatures warmed dramatically from opening practice, so did Memo Rojas' form, as the #01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing driver ran a lap of 1min 19.874secs to capture pole position for Sunday's Grand-Am Rolex Series Verizon Wireless Festival of Speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Rojas became the first multiple Daytona Prototype pole winner of 2009, and added a third career pole to his personal tally, with top spot in California, doubling up on his only other qualifying effort this season, at Virginia International Raceway.
"We were really struggling yesterday, and our car was out of the window of where we wanted it to be," the Mexican said, "We took really strong decisions with the set-up to begin this morning, and it worked. My hat's off to this team. Even though we struggled yesterday, we didn't panic, and we took the right direction pretty quick. Then we won the pole."
Rojas said that Friday's cooler temperatures had played a role in the TELMEX team's struggle but, while it was 57 degrees Friday afternoon, it warmed up to 85 degrees for qualifying.
"It was the cold temperatures that messed us up yesterday," he said, "We didn't have the tyre pressures set up for that kind of weather, and we were lost with that. Now that it warmed up, we took the right direction and the car was great."
Brian Frisselle ran a lap of 1min 20.254secs to put the #10 SunTrust Ford Dallara on the outside of the front row.
"The car was awesome out there today, it was very consistent," Frisselle said, "I ran three laps that were similar to my qualifying time - that points out we should have a pretty good race pace. The car has given me a great car that we can win the race with tomorrow."
Starting on row two will be Jon Fogarty, in the #99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley co-driven by Alex Gurney, and Mark Wilkins, in the #61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley he shares with Burt Frisselle.
"It's a tough field out there," Wilkins noted, "We have to work harder and harder to bring our A-game to every event."
Rounding out the top ten starters will be Romain Dumas(Penske Racing #12 Porsche Riley), Nic Jonsson (#76 Krohn Racing Ford Lola), Mark Patterson (#60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley), the impressive Ricky Taylor (Beyer Racing #13 Pontiac Riley), John Pew (# 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley) and Daytona 24 Hours winner Darren Law (#58 Brumos Porsche Riley).
The Acxiom GT class also saw its first two-time pole winner of the season, with Nick Ham putting the #70 Castrol Syntec/Mazda Mazda RX-8 out front with a lap of 1min 27.251secs.