ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Aug. 15, 2009) -
Charles Espenlaub, of Lutz, Fla., earned his second-consecutive SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car pole position today, but will start fifth in this afternoon's Road America Grand Prix Presented by StopTech after the coin toss inverted the Fast Five®. Kuno Wittmer, of Montreal, Que., will start first after the inversion.
Driving the No. 73 MAZDASPEED/StopTech/ProParts MAZDA6, Espenlaub utilized a draft by, of all people, Wittmer to turn a fastest lap time of 2:28.475 (98.149 mph) around the 14-turn, four-mile circuit, topping Patrick Lindsey's best lap by 0.395-second.
"Obviously, with these long straight-aways at Road America, drafting is very important," Espenlaub said. "We thought up a few different strategies for qualifying and the best one we came up with was to follow Kuno [Wittmer]. He's been fast all weekend. We timed it just right. He gave me a tow and that was basically what did it for that lap. If it had been reversed, and he had been following me, I guarantee that he'd be on the pole.
"The Tri-Point team is incredible. All three of us; myself, Jason [Saini] and Eric [Foss], are getting along great and trying to help each other out as much as we can. At Mid-Ohio, I had an engine problem during the race, so I fell back, but we were able to get Jason to the front. Tri-Point's been busting their butts this weekend. My car has been giving them fits, so we finally put a new motor in it and got the car where it needs to be."
Following the qualifying session, Espenlaub flipped the ceremonial coin and called "heads." When tails came up, the Fast Five was inverted.
"I called heads at Mid-Ohio and it worked out," Espenlaub said. "It's heartbreaking to get up there in qualifying, but then to start fifth. Kuno has a great car and if he'd had been behind me, he would have had pole, so it's nice to see him start up front. He's a nice guy and I really enjoy racing with him."
It was Espenlaub's fourth-career pole position, his second in-a-row after his run at Mid-Ohio last weekend and his second at Road America (2006).
Lindsey, of Santa Barbara, Calif., put in an effort worthy of second quickest for the second-straight week in the No. 57 Horton Autosport/Sloan Securities MAZDA6, running a best time of 2:28.870 (97.889 mph). Making just his second start of 2009, Lindsay will start fourth with the inversion.
Pierre Kleinubing, of Coconut Creek, Fla., qualified and will start third in the No. 42 Acura/RealTime/Red Line Oil Acura TSX, turning a fastest time of 2:29.008 (97.798 mph).
Point leader Jason Saini, of Fort Worth, Texas, qualified fourth in his No. 74 MAZDASPEED/StopTech/ProParts MAZDA6, with a fastest lap time of 2:29.181 (97.685 mph). He will start the race second.
A winner at Mosport and pulling double-duty in both World Challenge Touring Car and GT this weekend, Wittmer will line up first for the race in his No. 44 Acura/RealTime/Red Line Oil Acura TSX after turning the fifth-fastest time of 2:29.212 (97.665 mph). Wittmer qualified first and lost the coin toss earlier this year at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
"Hats off to Charles," Wittmer said. "He really benefited from the draft. Losing the pole to a coin toss is heartbreaking. I know, I had the same thing happen in New Jersey. But I also know it's not going to take long for him to be right there, back on my bumper."
Eric Foss (MAZDA6), Peter Cunningham (Acura TSX), defending race winner James Clay (BMW 328i), Nick Esayian (BMW 328i) and Seth Thomas (BMW 328i) completed the top 10.
Saturday evening's World Challenge Road America Grand Prix Presented by StopTech, Round Eight of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship, will make its standing start at 5:45 p.m. (CDT) Saturday. Follow live notes, timing and streaming audio at www.world-challenge.com. Today's race will be broadcast Sept. 11 at 2 p.m. (EDT) on SPEED.
Follow World Challenge on Twitter @SPEEDWC.
Image of Charles Espenlaub following Kuno Wittmer during qualifying by Mark Weber.
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. - Qualifying results for Saturday's SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship Round Eight race, the Road America Grand Prix Presented by StopTech, with position, car number in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, fastest lap time, and speed in miles per hour. Top five positions will be inverted for the starting lineup after coin toss.
1, (73), Charles Espenlaub, Lutz, Fla., MAZDA6, 2:28.475, 98.149.
2, (57), Patrick Lindsey, Santa Barbara, Calif., MAZDA6, 2:28.870, 97.889.
3, (42), Pierre Kleinubing, Coconut Creek, Fla., Acura TSX, 2:29.008, 97.798.
4, (74), Jason Saini, Fort Worth, Texas, MAZDA6, 2:29.181, 97.685.
5, (44), Kuno Wittmer, Montreal, Quebec, Acura TSX, 2:29.212, 97.665.
6, (75), Eric Foss(R), Fort Worth, Texas, MAZDA6, 2:29.458, 97.504.
7, (1), Peter Cunningham, Milwaukee, Wis., Acura TSX, 2:29.690, 97.353.
8, (36), James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., BMW 328i, 2:30.308, 96.953.
9, (34), Nick Esayian, San Diego, Calif., BMW 328i, 2:30.436, 96.870.
10, (38), Seth Thomas, Cumming, Ga., BMW 328i, 2:30.722, 96.686.
11, (49), Branden Peterson, Breckenridge, Colo., Acura TSX, 2:34.317, 94.434.
12, (43), Bob Woodhouse, Blair, Neb., Acura TSX, no time.