MONTEREY, Calif., (Oct. 21, 2006) – Fresh off his first-career pole at Road Atlanta in September, Eric Curran, of East Hampton, Mass., earned his second-consecutive pole of the season for the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED Touring Car Finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, part of the Monterey Sports Car Championships. Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., will start second, followed by Jeff Altenburg, of Ellicott City, Md.-30-
In a morning qualifying session shortened by a red flag due to an oil cleanup in Turn 10, Curran made the most of the abbreviated track time by placing his No. 43 Acura Certified Pre-Owned/RealTime Racing Acura RSX on pole with a time of 1:35.599 (84.277 mph). Curran’s time becomes the new SPEED Touring Car qualifying lap record at the 2.238-mile circuit, besting the previous record by 1.409 seconds.
“I had a tough start to the season,” Curran said. “Sebring didn’t go so well. And, as we know, St. Petersburg definitely didn’t go so well. So it’s been a struggle for me as far as points go since the start of the Championship. But the second half of the season has just been awesome.
“Going into the race though, there’s been all the talk of Randy [Pobst] and Pierre [Kleinubing] going for the Drivers’ Championship. Obviously, I’m on Pierre’s side and I’m here to support him in any way that I can. But then again, I’m a racing driver as well and I want to do the best I can do for myself. Ultimately, if Pierre couldn’t qualify better than fourth, like he did, then it’s good that I was able to go out and get the pole. I was able to get in front of the two Mazdas and take a point away from them.”
Starting on the outside of the front row is Pobst, who set a time of 1:35.767 (84.129 mph) in his No. 73 Mazdaspeed/Tri-Point Motorsports Mazda 6. As circumstance would have it, Pobst who is pulling double duty this weekend and running a Porsche 911 Cup in SPEED GT, will be starting outside pole in that race as well.
After topping the practice times yesterday, Pobst’s teammate and two-time (2003 and 2004) Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca winner Altenburg will start the SPEED Touring Car finale third on the grid. The No. 72 Mazda 6 finished the session with a 1:35.828 (84.075 mph).
Point leader Pierre Kleinubing turned a time of 1:36.170 (83.776 mph) to put his No. 42 Acura Certified Pre-Owned/RealTime Acura TSX in fourth, followed by teammate Peter Cunningham with a 1:36.232 (83.722 mph) in his No. 1 Acura TSX to complete the top five.
Kleinubing can wrap up his fourth Drivers’ Championship with a third place finish or better, regardless of what Pobst does in the race. Pobst gained two points on the lead, and now trails by nine.
Sunday’s SPEED Touring Car finale is set to go green at 10:30 a.m. (Pacific) and will air on SPEED Saturday, Oct. 28 at 1 p.m. (EDT)
To follow all the action, tune into the SCCA Pit Board featuring live notes and Live Timing & Scoring presented by SRT at www.world-challenge.com
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