SONOMA, Calif. (June 23, 2006) – Banking on experience from previous excursions on the shortened Infineon Raceway, SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT driver Tommy Archer, of Duluth, Minn., cruised to a quick practice time of 1:19.175 (90.483 mph) in his No. 5 c3controls/Dodge Motorsport Dodge Viper SRT during the morning session to lead the SPEED GT field in advance of Saturday’s Round Five Race, part of the Dodge/Save Mart 350 weekend. Mike McCann, of North Canton, Ohio, was first in the afternoon session and second behind Archer overall with a 1:19.425 (90.198 mph), which also came in the morning, and James Sofronas, of Newport Beach, Calif., was third after turning an afternoon time of 1:19.554 (90.052 mph).-30-
Archer wasted little time assuming the lead position, leaping to the front early on in the 20-minute session with a 1:19.986. While other spots shuffled periodically behind him, Archer maintained his position, eventually improving his top time to the fast mark.
After the morning session, Archer said memory served him well in his pursuit of a fast practice time.
“Yes,” Archer said when asked if he had run the 10-turn, 1.99-mile configuration in the past. “It was in NASCAR trucks, and it has been a few years, but elephants don’t usually have bad memories.”
Pachyderm similarities aside, Archer said that his Viper seemed to do well despite his thought that smaller cars were better-suited to Infineon Raceway.
“We’ve been coming here the past two years with the Viper,” Archer said. “And even though I’ve always considered this a small-car track, I think that it is also a difficult track. And what I’ve noticed over the years is that on a difficult track, the more difficult it is, the better I do.
“There are some corners here that scare people. There are a lot of guys here who don’t have a lot of experience on this track. This is my 25th year coming here. I’m very comfortable at this venue. The new [track] layout is a little bit different for this car, but I only had to learn one turn, everything else I knew pretty well.”
Where Archer was up front early, McCann came on late, turning his fast time toward the end of the session in his No. 82 McCann Plastics/K&N Filters Dodge Viper just before the session closed. McCann followed that up with a 1:19.438 (90.183 mph) in the final practice, which was good enough to top the session.
Sofronas, in the No. 14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3, had his best time (1:19.554 - 90. 052 mph) in the afternoon, jumping up to third overall past the No. 16 XM/Mobil 1/Motorola/On Star Cadillac CTS-V driven by O’Connell, who held the spot after the first session with a 1:19.678 (89.911 mph).
Ricardo Imery, of Caracas, Venezuela, was fifth (1:19.750 – 89.830 mph) in his No. 64 AXA Financial/Cavenas Elevators Porsche 911 GT3.
SPEED GT qualifying is set for 10:25 a.m. (PDT) Saturday, with the Round Five race scheduled to begin Saturday afternoon at 4:20 p.m.
To follow qualifying and race action live via live timing, visit www.world-challenge.com, select the Infineon event homepage and click on the SCCA Pit Board Presented by SRT, which provides real-time lap notes and timing information.
For other information, visit www.world-challenge.com.
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