Team Sahlen called an audible at the end of Friday morning's final practice at Road America, only 40 minutes before the start of qualifying for the VISITFLORIDA.com Sports Car 250. After Dane Cameron had the fastest lap in the session, the decision was made to let him qualify the car for a change – he usually follows co-driver Wayne Nonnamaker in the driver rotation – and go for the pole.
Cameron stepped up and did just that, capturing the TOTAL Pole Award with a track record lap of 2 minutes, 0.028 seconds (121.412mph) in the No. 42 Team Sahlen BMW/Riley. That made Team Sahlen the first team to win poles in four Grand-Am's classes: Rolex Series DP and GT in addition to Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge GS and ST.
“It was an off-the-cuff decision,” said Cameron, who won his second career pole and first in DP. “Team Sahlen has always been strong at Road America, and we unloaded much closer [to an ideal setup] than usual and we were quick right out of the gate.”
Jordan Taylor had a three-race pole-winning streak ended, although he qualified second with a lap of 2:00.575 (120.861mph) in the No. 10 Velocity Worldwide Corvette DP shared with Max Angelelli.
“We're here for the win, not the pole,” Taylor said. “I still start second, so I'll have a good view at the start. I think we've got a good car for the race.”
Memo Rojas will start third in the No. 01 Telcel/TELMEX BMW/Riley co-driven by fellow defending three-time DP champion Scott Pruett. Sebastien Bourdais qualified fourth in the No. 4 8Star Motorsports Corvette DP co-driven by Emilio DiGuida.
DP point leaders Alex Popow and Ryan Dalziel – winners of the recent Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – will start seventh in the No. 2 Soloson BMW/Riley.
Qualifying for the first time since the 2010 Rolex 24 At Daytona, Leh Keen won the GT pole with a lap of 2:11.183 (111.088mph) in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 co-driven by Alessandro Balzan. That shattered Nonnamaker's two-year-old GT track record by more than three seconds.
“This team is all about getting out early,” said Keen, one of nine Rolex Series drivers who will also race in Sunday's Orion 245 for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón. “They try to be at the front of the line in every practice session. Sometimes qualifying gets shortened by an incident, so getting out early and putting down a quick flying lap sometimes paid off. It certainly did today.”
Paul Dalla Lana was second-fastest in the No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 shared by Bill Auberlen and Billy Johnson. Taking third were Patrick Lindsey and Patrick Long in the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche GT3.
Tom Long took his fourth pole of the season in the GX class, running 1:33.156 (97.926mph) in the No. 70 Mazdaspeed/Castrol Edge Mazda 6 co-driven by Sylvain Tremblay.
The race is set for Saturday and airs live on SPEED at 5 p.m. ET.
Heitkotter, Cooke win Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge poles
Qualifying for the first time in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge in 2013, Bryan Heitkotter found himself in familiar territory – capturing his third GS pole in four career qualifying attempts. Heitkotter ran a track- record lap of 2:22.295 (102.413 mph) in the No. 14 Doran Racing Nissan 370Z co-driven by BJ Zacharias.
Trent Hindman – making his second CTSCC start – qualified second in the No. 48 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 co-driven by Charles Espenlaub. Jade Buford – seeking his fourth consecutive pole and sixth of the season – will start fourth in the No. 55 Multimatic Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage.
Tyler Cooke captured his first career pole in ST qualifying, running a lap of 2:31.117 (96.43 mph) in the No. 81 BimmerWorld Racing BMW 328i co-driven by Greg Liefooghe. He will be joined on the front row by Chad Gilsinger, who ran 2:31.517 (96.18 mph) in the No. 93 HART Honda Civic Si co-driven by Michael Valiante