"It was close," Pruett admitted, "The quality of these cars and drivers is just phenomenal. It shows in qualifying. The cars were so unbelievably close it was incredible. I see that for the race too. I see it going down to the absolute finish, just like last year."
Rounding out the top ten qualifiers were Christophe Bouchut's #55 Crown Royal/NPN Racing BMW Riley, Darren Law's #59 Brumos Porsche Riley, Joao Barbosa's.#9 Action Express Porsche Riley, Ricardo Zonta's #75 Krohn Racing Proto-Auto Ford Lola and Buddy Rice's #90 Spirit of Daytona Porsche Coyote.
The main drama of the day came in the opening practice session, when four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson emerged unhurt from an incident that badly damaged the championship-winning #99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Chevrolet Riley. However, while the team initially planned on calling its Texas shop for a back-up car, it was later determined that the car could be fixed in time to be ready for the race.
"I put myself in a position with a GT car that I shouldn't have and paid the price," Johnson confessed, "I hate it that I tore up equipment and put the guys in this spot, but it looks like we will get this fixed and hopefully everything will be good for tomorrow."
Lucas Luhr and Martin Ragginger also escaped injuries in morning session incidents, with their contending race cars also expected to be ready to race following extensive repairs.
GT qualifying saw both Jeff Segal, with a lap record, and Jordan Taylor edge Segal's team-mate Sylvain Tremblay for the top position on the final lap to give Mazda a 1-2-3 qualifying sweep.
A year ago, Tremblay won the GT pole in dramatic fashion, running a track-record lap on his final lap of qualifying, but was this time on the receiving end as Segal broke that mark with a lap of 1min 49.282secs in SpeedSource's #69 FXDD Mazda RX-8.
"I think it's a testament to the SpeedSource team how close the cars are," Segal said, "They build the cars from scratch. It was remarkable to see the car go from nothing over the winter to what it is today, and how close the cars are matched. It speaks volumes about SpeedSource."
Also passing Tremblay on the last lap was Taylor, after running a lap of 1min 49.371secs in Racers Edge Motorsports' #30 Cobalt Friction/IDEMITSU RX-8.
"I pushed a lot harder on my last lap to try to pick up a few tenths," said the University of Central Florida freshman, who was qualifying for the first time in a Rolex Series event, "I picked up some time in the bus stop, and that did it. I'm happy with the front row start."
Tremblay ran 1min 49.462secs in Speedsource's #70 Castrol Syntec-backed Mazda, which won the GT class in the 2008 Rolex 24.