Brandon Davis, of Huntington Beach, Calif., earned his second consecutive SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT pole of the season in preparation for Saturday’s Toyo Tires Watkins Glen Grand Prix Presented by Lala Motorsports. He also lost the post-qualifying coin toss for the second time in-a-row, inverting the top five and placing Davis fifth on the grid for Saturday’s Round Five race, part of the Camping World Grand Prix weekend at Watkins Glen International. Fifth-qualifying Jason Daskalos, of Albuquerque, N.M., will start first.
Davis led the 30-minute qualifying session early in the No. 10 Applied Computer Solutions/Sun Micro Systems Ford Mustang Cobra, but was soon exchanging hot laps with Eric Curran. For the last 10 minutes of the session Curran held off Davis by a mere 0.010-second and as the checkered flag flew, it appeared as though Curran had won the battle and would take his first pole of 2009. The last car to see the checkered flag, Davis stopped the clocks at a 1:55.463 (106.008 mph), more than enough to steal the pole from Curran.
“The car was really good,” Davis said. “We knew where Eric [Curran] was in time, and we went out at the end for one last run. His 55.7 was just a tick faster than our 55.7. I went out and ran a good lap, I though it would be enough. Another 55.7 and not enough for the pole. So I cooled off the tires and took one more run at it. I told the guys on the radio ‘I’m gonna go for it and hopefully don’t wreck the thing.’ It came close quite a few times on that last run. I was really hanging it out—putting the throttle on really early and hoping the thing didn’t drive off and into the guardrail. I was fortunate to keep it on the track. In 11, I was able to just hold on and keep it off the wall. I was in the dirt a little, but we came away with a faster lap.”
Though choosing tails for the post-qualifying coin flip had failed Davis at Mosport, the current point leader kept the faith and selected tails again at The Glen. The result did not change, as the coin came up heads, inverting the top five, and giving fifth-qualifying Daskalos the top spot on the grid for Saturday’s race. Davis will start fifth.
“You’ve got to play the cards you’re dealt,” Davis said. “We’ll start fifth and see if we can get a good start. We’ve had good starts in the past. We’ll see if we can get up close to the front on the start. Our car has gone away as the race has worn on this year and we’ve done some more this weekend to try to address that. Hopefully, we can get back to the front and actually win one of these things.”
“I’ll take it,” Daskalos grinned. “Obviously, I’d like to be on the pole by turning the fastest time. We’re pleased with the car. It’s been handling really well. I think we’re actually a little better at the end of the race than at the beginning. I think that will play into our hands and I’m looking forward to starting up front.
“Mosport is a momentum track and that was great for the Dodge Viper and I think that Watkins is proving to be the same type of track,” Daskalos added. “I think that plays into our hands a little bit. At Mosport, I was better thanBrandon in some corners and he was better in others. That made for a good race. Hopefully we’ll keep the luck going.”
Curran’s lap of 1:55.714 (105.778 mph) qualified his No. 30 Whelen Engineering Chevrolet Corvette second. With the invert, he will start fourth.
After missing Thursday practice to be with his wife and newborn daughter (born June 30), James Sofronas, of Newport Beach, Calif., qualified and will start third in the No. 14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3. Sofronas entered a lap of 1:56.417 (105.139 mph).
Sofronas’ teammate, Dino Crescentini, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., qualified his No. 4 Stoptech/Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3 fourth with a 1:56.724 (104.862 mph). He will start second after the inversion
Before the coin flip, Daskalos fifth-place qualifying time in the No. 5 Daskalos Developments Dodge Viper was a 1:56.915 (104.691 mph).
Defending race winner Randy Pobst qualified his Volvo S60 sixth. He is followed by his teammate Andy Pilgrim, who qualified seventh, but broke the transmission in his Volvo S60.
Sonny Whelen (Chevrolet Corvette), Tony Rivera (Porsche 911 GT3) and Gunter Schaldach (Dodge Viper) completed the top 10.