Cool temperatures brought hot times Friday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, with Jon Fogarty and Sarah Cattaneo in the spotlight as Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge competitors rewrote the record book in qualifying for Saturday's season-ending EMCO Gears Classic presented by KeyBank.
Fogarty edged Ricky Taylor to capture his third pole position of the season and lead Daytona Prototype qualifying in record time, while Ronnie Bremer scored his first career pole as Stevenson Motorsports led GT qualifying for the fifth time this season. The two-hour, 45-minute race takes the green flag on Saturday at 3 p.m. (airing SPEED, live).
Cattaneo took another step toward becoming Grand-Am's first female champion by capturing the Street Tuner pole in Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge qualifying, highlighting a session that saw 33 of 39 Grand Sport and 23 of 32 Street Tuner competitors shattered the existing track marks.
"I don't know if it's the weather or if the cars are handling better this year, but it's working," said Cattaneo, who enters Saturday's finale at 11 a.m. trailing by nine points in the standings. Cattaneo ran a lap of 1:35.313 (85.285mph) in the No. 198 Cruise America Mini Cooper S co-driven by Owen Trinkler.
Bill Lester, bidding to become this country's first African-American champion in a major auto racing series, was ninth fastest in GT qualifying as the top three teams in the standings struggled in qualifying. He co-drives the No. 88 Autohaus Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro with Jordan Taylor, hoping to become Grand-Am's youngest champion.
Fogarty ended a six-race pole-winning streak by Ricky Taylor last month in Montreal with a lap of 1:16.504 (106.253mph) in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet/Riley he shares with Alex Gurney. Fogarty nipped Taylor by .101sec while breaking Memo Rojas' existing mark by more than one second.
"We had to really push hard to get that time," Fogarty said. "I don't know if two makes a streak, but maybe we can keep the streak going into next year. We have great weather here at Mid-Ohio – dry and cool. Normally it gets really hot in a Daytona Prototype, but in conditions like these, it's really comfortable."
Rojas, who qualified seventh, can clinch the third DP title in four years for the No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley co-driven by Scott Pruett by completing the minimum 30 minutes needed to score points. Ricky Taylor and Max Angelelli trail by 20 points entering the finale, and are in position to take the title if the Ganassi team fails to score points. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates will win its fifth team championship by taking the green flag.
Ronnie Bremer led a 1-2-3 Chevrolet sweep with a lap of 1:25.092 (95.930mph) in the No. 57 Stevenson Auto Group Camaro, followed by fellow Chevrolet drivers Boris Said and Daniel Herrington. Andrew Davis and Leh Keen enter the race trailing Lester and Jordan Taylor by three points in the GT standings but failed to qualify in the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche GT3. They will start 19th in class. Sylvain Tremblay qualified fourth in the No. 70 Mazda Speed/Castrol Edge Mazda RX-8 co-driven by Jonathan Bomarito. Tremblay and Bomarito are five points out of the GT lead.
James Gue led the GS field with a lap of 1:31.223 (89.109mph) in the No. 37 JBS Motorsports Ford Mustang Boss 302R co-driven by Bret Seafuse. Paul Dalla Lana, who enters the finale with a 16-point lead, qualified fifth in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3.