New Tires Boost Fogarty Atop Opening-Day Time Chart

By Auto News Log • April 9th, 2010

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Jon Fogarty waited until the closing minutes of opening practice Thursday to set the fastest lap of the day as GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 competitors prepared for Saturday’s Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park.

Fogarty unofficially broke the track record with a lap of 1:20.018 (103.477 mph) on the 2.3-mile, 17-turn circuit, driving the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Chevrolet Riley. Fogarty and co-driver Alex Gurney won here in 2007 and 2009, going on to capture the Daytona Prototype championship both times.

In GT, Jordan Taylor was fastest in the No. 30 Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda RX-8.

The race takes the green flag at 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday (SPEED, live).

“We went out with a new set of tires late in the session to simulate qualifying, and I think we got the most out of it,” said Fogarty.”We’re happy, because we made a huge jump to get to the top of the time sheets from what we were running on our old tires. The new tires seemed to be worth a tremendous amount. Hopefully, that won’t be the case with the other teams.”

Fogarty, who ended the 2009 season with a streak of five consecutive poles, will be the favorite to begin a new streak in Friday’s 15-minute qualifying session that begins at 11:40 a.m. ET.

“It’s important to start up front,” Fogarty said. “Hopefully, we can start out there, pull out the right strategy, have a good pit stop and send Alex out in the same position.”

Scott Pruett was on top for most of the session after turning an early lap of 1:20.466 (102.900 mph) in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley co-driven by Memo Rojas.

“We expected the faster speeds with the cooler conditions and better grip,” said Pruett, who won the recent Grand Prix of Miami after finishing second in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona to take the lead in the championship. “Our goal this season is to finish on the podium in every race. We’re going after the championship again, and all points are important. We have a great car here and would love to bring home a victory, but if we can’t do that, we’ll try to bring it home second or third.”

Memo Gidley was third fastest in the No. 77 Doran Racing McDonald’s Ford Dallara, 1:20.904 (102.343 mph) co-driven by Dion von Moltke. Rounding out the top five were Ozz Negri, 1:20.973 (102.256 mph) in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Crown Royal XR Ford Riley co-driven by John Pew, and Ryan Dalziel, 1:21.021 (102.195 mph) in the Starworks Motorsport BMW Riley co-driven by Mike Forest.

Mazdas took five of the top six positions in opening GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 practice Thursday at Barber Motorsports Park, led by Jordan Taylor, who ran a lap of 1:27.327 (94.816 mph) in the No. 30 Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda RX-8 co-driven by Todd Lamb.

“The Racers Edge guys have done a great job during the break between Homestead and Barber, and it made it easy for me right out of the box,” Taylor said, “We’re quick and it’s looking good for the weekend.”

Paul Edwards was second fastest in GT, running a lap of 1:27.717 (94.394 mph) in the No. 07 Banner Racing Corvette he shares with motorcycle legend Scott Russell.

The next four fastest were all Mazdas. Rolex 24 At Daytona winner Sylvain Tremblay was third, 1:28.175 (93.904 mph) in the No. 70 SpeedSource Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8 co-driven by Jonathan Bomarito, followed by Leh Keen, 1:28.614 (93.438 mph) in the No. 41 Dempsey Racing/Team Seattle Mazda RX-8 co-driven by James Gue, Joe Foster, 1:28.727 (93.319 mph) in the No. 40 Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 co-driven by Patrick Dempsey, and the No. 68 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 of John Edwards and Adam Christodoulou, 1:28.956 (93.080 mph).

The No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro of Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis was seventh, 1:28.975 (93.060), followed by the No. 94 Turner Motorsports BMW M6 of Bill Auberlen and Paul Dalla Lana, 1:28.978 (93.057 mph).

Craig Stanton and John Potter were 10th fastest in the lone Porsche GT3 in the field, running 1:29.392 (92.626 mph) in the No. 44 Magnus Racing entry.

The Grand Prix of Miami-winning No. 69 SpeedSource FXDD Mazda RX-8 of Jeff Segal and Emil Assentato managed only one lap in the session. Segal heard an alarm and came to the pits, and the team elected to change the engine as a precaution. Also to the garage was the Turner Motorsports BMW, with the team working on the rear suspension after the car spun and tapped the guardrail.

Source: GRAND-AM Road Racing

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