Moving to Earnhardt Childress Racing power is for the 2011 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season is already paying dividends for Spirit of Daytona Racing. Antonio Garcia ran a lap of 1:21.682 (101.368mph) in Friday's qualifying session at Barber Motorsports Park to capture the pole for Saturday's Porsche 250.
It was the first career pole for Garcia, Spirit of Daytona Racing and the Coyote chassis.
"This is my fourth year with the Coyote chassis and we've been developing the car a lot," said Garcia, whose lone Rolex Series victory was in the 2009 Rolex 24 At Daytona for Brumos Racing. "We've been very close to having the pole position twice. Now I'm very happy for Coyote and Spirit of Daytona for this first pole."
Jon Fogarty will start second, running a lap of 100.756 mph (1:22.178) in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet/Riley co-driven by Alex Gurney.
"To convert this into a win, we're going to have to be extremely smart during the race to convert this into a victory relative to pacing ourselves and conserving the car and the tires," Fogarty said. "We have some ideas that should help us in the race. Our goal is to have a consistent car, not necessarily maximizing our speed."
Teams are working through various strategies to maximize the life of the new-for-2011 series-standard Continental tires, and GAINSCO opted for a “one-and-done” approach in qualifying.
“We don't want to run more laps than necessary,” Fogarty added. “I was happy to get the lap done early, and it was a pretty good lap. We considered some options that were far more drastic to save tires, we didn't do them, and we just have to manage tires. That's basically what it boils down to, and it's nothing new. It just adds another element to the race and to the whole weekend.”
GT qualifying also saw first-time poles for both the driver and car owner. Dane Cameron was quickest in the No. 41 Dempsey Racing/Team Seattle Mazda RX-8, running a lap of 1:31.106 (90.883mph).
"Last year Dempsey Racing won its first race, so I'm proud to have giving the team its first pole," said Cameron, who co-drives with James Gue. "If everything goes well tomorrow, maybe we can get win number two in the column for Dempsey Racing."
"Dane has done phenomenally well all year," said Patrick Dempsey, who earned his first pole as a car owner. He will start eighth in the team's No. 40 Visit Florida Mazda RX-8. "I'm really happy with the team. Everyone's gelling nicely, and all their hard work is a testament to how our cars are doing so well here.
Robin Liddell will start second in GT, after running a lap of 1:31.360 (90.630mph) in the No. 57 Stevenson Automotive Group Camaro co-driven by Jan Magnussen.
The Porsche 250 will take the green flag at 4 p.m. ET Saturday. The race will be televised on a one-day delay basis on SPEED, beginning at noon ET on Sunday.