ROLEX 24: Gurney Scores Second Career Rolex 24 Pole Position

RaceChaser Staff Featured, Road Racing, Southeast, WeatherTech 0 Comments

January 23, 2014 — IMSA photo — DAYTONA BEACH, FL — There is no shortage of racing history when it comes to the last name, “Gurney,” but Alex Gurney added another entry in the record books by winning the TOTAL Pole Award for this weekend’s 52nd Rolex 24 At Daytona (FOX, Saturday, 2 p.m. ET) the first event in TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup history.

Gurney turned in a best lap of 130.416 mph (1:38.270) in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP he shares with Jon Fogarty, Memo Gidley and Darren Law to earn the pole position for this weekend’s twice-around-the clock event around the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway road circuit. It was the second Rolex 24 At Daytona pole for Gurney, who took the No. 1 starting position in 2007 as well. His father, Dan Gurney, won the first Daytona Continental, the precursor to the Rolex 24 At Daytona, in 1962.

“I’m obviously really happy and excited about it all,” Gurney said. “(It’s) been a really difficult offseason and I have to say a big thank you to (team owner) Bob Stallings and everybody on the team. I think most of the teams worked straight through Christmas and New Years with no real time off with all the rules changes and a lot of challenges there, so this means a lot to all of us and our team. We’re not set for the whole season so this is one of our times to shine. It feels really good to have pulled it off.”

Braun Scores PC Pole In Final Minute

Colin Braun clearly knows the quick way around Daytona International Speedway in a variety of race vehicles and track configurations, which he proved again in Prototype Challenge (PC) qualifying on Thursday. Braun posted a best lap of 125.922 mph (1:41.777) in the No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA FLM09 to take the PC class TOTAL Pole Award.

Last fall, Braun set a Daytona International Speedway record around the 2.5-mile oval with a lap of 222.971 mph in a Michael Shank Racing-prepared Ford EcoBoost/Riley DP. In 2009, he qualified on pole for a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on the Daytona oval. Braun is sharing the No. 54 entry with Jon Bennett, James Gue and Mark Wilkins this weekend.

“It’s great to be on the pole here in Daytona,” Braun said. “It’s a really cool race and [you know] as soon as the green flag drops everybody forgets it, so we’ve got to enjoy it while we can. But I’m really proud of the guys; I think it comes down to preparation here. It’s all about the work they do in the offseason over the time we have off because you show up and you only get an hour and a half of practice; you’ve got four or five drivers to run through and lots of red flags, lots of traffic, so it’s all about being prepared and ready to go execute or game plan once we get here.”

SRT Viper Captures GTLM Pole in return to Rolex 24

While it’s been 14 years since a factory-backed SRT Viper raced in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, it still knows the quickest way around Daytona International Speedway.

Marc Goossens captured the GT Le Mans (GTLM) pole for Saturday’s 52nd Rolex 24, the opening race of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup. Goossens ran a lap of 122.634 mph (1:44.506) in the No. 91 SRT Motorsports SRT Viper GTS-R while Jonathan Bomarito qualified third in the team’s No. 93 entry, sandwiching the No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR of Nick Tandy.

“We had a good run at the end of last year, and we’re carrying it over,” said Goossens after capturing his first pole position in North American endurance sports car competition. “It’s awesome to be on the pole for the first race of the year. It’s a great way to start the season, and it’s a great boost of confidence for the whole team.”

Now, Goossens and co-drivers Dominik Farnbacher and Ryan Hunter-Reay will be looking to follow up the showing of the ORECA Viper GTS-R in the 2000 edition of the Rolex 24, when the French-based team took the overall victory with drivers Olivier Beretta, Dominique Dupuy and Karl Wendlinger.

“It’s not the most important thing to be on the pole for a 24-hour race, but it obviously helps,” Goossens said. “It’s good for Viper, especially with Jonathan third in a very competitive field. It’s great for Viper to be at this level after only a year and a half.”

Bomarito will be joined by Kuno Wittmer and Rob Bell in the No. 93 Pennzoil Ultra SRT Viper GTS-R after qualifying at 122.504 mph (1:44.617). Nick Tandy qualified the No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR second in GTLM with a lap of 122.545 mph (1:44.582). He will be joined in the race by Richard Lietz and Patrick Pilet.

After running fastest for much of the 15-minute session, Oliver Gavin wound up fourth in the No. 4 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R co-driven by Tommy Milner and Robin Liddell. The team’s sister car of Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Ryan Briscoe did not participate in qualifying due to a throttle problem.

“The car was solid in the infield, and I was fortunate to get a tow in the banking by (Porsche driver) Patrick Long,” Gavin said. “We’ve got a solid race car. It’s very comfortable to drive, and predictable on the braking.

No. 63 Ferrari Moved To GTD Pole After No. 48 Audi Time Disallowed

The ultra-competitive GT Daytona (GTD) field will be led by the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia after post-race technical inspection revealed an unapproved rear wing endplate on the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS that had originally qualified on the class pole position.

Finnish driver Toni Vilander turned a best qualifying lap of 119.744 mph (1:47.028) in the No. 63 Ferrari. He is sharing the car with 2013 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT champion Alessandro Balzan, Jeff Westphal and Lorenzo Case.

“I missed the Roar [Before The Rolex 24 test}, because I was busy doing other racing,” said Vilander. “Even with the track time being so little, I was confident, I got in the car and was on the pace immediately. When I got in it, the car was already good. We didn’t need to change the balance that much. It’s good to see so many manufacturers so close. At the same time, I’m confident for the race. We drivers and the crew have to do a good solid job, and I think we’ve got a good chance.”

The No. 46 Fall-Line Motorsports Audi R8, which originally qualified third in GTD, was also moved to the rear of the grid due to a ride-height violation. The No. 65 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 shared by Brazilians Francisco Longo, Daniel Serra, Xandinho Negraõ and Marcos Gomes will start second on the class grid with a best qualifying lap of 119.718 mph (1:47.052). The No. 007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage shared by David Block, Al Carter, Brandon Davis and James Davison will start third in GTD with a lap of 119.714 (1:47.055).

The 52nd Annual Rolex 24 at Daytona begins tomorrow afternoon on FOX at 2 PM Eastern time.

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