Qualifying for Saturday's EMCO Gears Classic nearly came down to a dead heat before Jon Fogarty put down a tie-breaking lap of 1min 18.059secs at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Fogarty and Alex Gurney will be seeking a record third consecutive victory in the event, round six of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, but, with time winding down in the 15-minute Daytona Prototype qualifying session, the former Atlantic champion and Memo Rojas were tied with identical laps of 1min 18.439secs. Fogarty only broke the logjam on his penultimate lap, earning his ninth career pole but the first since 2007 in Infineon Raceway.
"It was pretty crazy, turning identical times, but I think Memo did his fast lap first so the pole would have gone to him had the tie been maintained," Fogarty claimed, "I pushed a little bit harder, and the car seemed to be getting better as the run went along, so it came kind of naturally. I didn't have to take a whole lot of risk for the time to come down, which is interesting, because usually that isn't the case. Quick times are generally turned in earlier in the session."
Gurney and Fogarty currently lead the DP competition with two victories in the #99 GAINSCO Pontiac Riley this season, while Rojas and co-driver Scott Pruett won their first race of the season in the #01 TELMEX Lexus Riley in the most recent race at Watkins Glen International to gain a share of the Daytona Prototype point lead with Brian Frisselle and Max Angelelli, co-drivers of the #10 SunTrust Ford Dallara.
"They didn't tell me I was tied for the pole, so I didn't find out until after the session," said Rojas, who won poles in both of his prior qualifying efforts this season, "That was pretty cool, as it was a tough qualifying session. Everybody struggled because of the little track time we had today and the weather conditions. For us, we were guessing because we weren't happy with the car this morning. We threw a crazy set-up at it, and it was okay, but we will work on the car in Saturday's early practice session. I think everybody is still looking to get their cars up to the highest level."
Mark Wilkins was third-fastest in the #61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley, and will share the second row with Frisselle.
"Qualifying was a big improvement for us," Wilkins admitted, "We tried something in the last practice and it didn't work, so we went with our wet set-up from earlier today and took a gamble. I think it paid off."
Nic Jonsson qualified fifth in the #76 Krohn Racing Ford Lola, and will be joined on the third row by Romain Dumas (#12 Penske Racing Porsche Riley), while the top ten qualifiers were rounded out by Guy Cosmo, John Pew, Mark Patterson and Darren Law.
In GT qualifying, Eric Lux was handed pole position despite his lap of 1min 25.892secs in the #86 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3 being slower than that of team-mate Leh Keen. The #87 car subsequently had its time disallowed in post-qualifying inspection due to a height infraction.
"It was really difficult trying to get the car ready for qualifying today, with rain in our first session today," Lux reported, "We were still struggling with the car at the end of practice, so the team and [chief engineer] Lars Giersing did a great job guessing on the set-up, and it worked. I cooked the tyres before the black flag midway through the session, and was worried we wouldn't be able to go faster after it went back to green. So I gave it everything I had to try to be on the front row, and I guess it was just enough."