MONTEREY, Calif. (Oct. 10, 2009) - Pierre Kleinubing, of Coconut Creek, Fla., put himself and Acura in better standing for the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship Presented by Toyo Tires, by scoring the pole for Sunday's Applied Computer Solutions Monterey Sports Car Championships Presented by Bondurant race. James Clay, of Blacksburg, Va., qualified second for the season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Piloting the No. 42 Acura/RealTime/Red Line Oil Acura TSX, Kleinubing only need one hot lap around the 11-turn, 2.238-mile course to enter the fastest lap of the 20-minute qualifying session, a 1:37.042 (83.023 mph). Confident in his lap, Kleinubing parked the car in pit lane and waited, but no challengers emerged.
"I only did two laps and I parked it," Kleinubing said. "I knew I couldn't go faster. I did make a little mistake coming out of Turn 10, but I don't think it would have changed much."
The points earned for winning his 36th career-pole had large implications for Kleinubing in the Drivers' Championship and Acura in the Manufacturers' Championship Presented by RACER Magazine. Acura and Mazda are now tied at 63 points apiece entering Sunday's season finale, while Kleinubing is now only 39 points behind Jason Saini in the Drivers' Championship.
"This was the best outcome possible," beamed Kleinubing. "The Manufacturers' Championship is still up in the air. I don't think it changes much for my Championship, but hopefully we'll have a good day tomorrow and come away with two Championships."
Winning the post-qualifying coin toss was also crucial for Kleinubing. Had the four-time Champion not correctly called tails, the top five on the grid would have inverted, making it much more difficult for Kleinubing to put the necessary space between himself and Saini to win the Championship. Starting from the front of the field on Sunday, if Kleinubing should win, Saini will need to finish fourth to hold onto his spot at the top of the point standings.
Coming off a hugely successful weekend at Road Atlanta where he scored his first-career pole position and his team swept the Touring Car podium, Clay qualified second for Sunday's race. Driving the No. 36 BimmerWorld/GearWrench BMW 328i, Clay entered a 1:37.371 (82.743 mph).
A race winner at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2007, Peter Cunningham, of Milwaukee, Wis., qualified third. Cunningham's quick lap of 1:37.449 (82.743 mph) puts his No. 1 Acura/RealTime/Red Line Oil Acura TSX directly behind teammate Kleinubing on the grid.
Kuno Wittmer, of Montreal, Quebec, put yet another Acura in the top five, clocking a 1:37.501 (82.633 mph) in his No. 44 Acura/RealTime/Red Line Oil Acura TSX, to qualify fourth.
Returning to World Challenge Touring Car for the first time since the season opener at Sebring, Chip Herr, of Lititz, Pa., is the first Mazda on the grid. Herr completed the top five in his No. 75 MAZDASPEED/StopTech/ProParts MAZDA6 with a lap of 1:37.545 (82.595 mph).
Fastest in practice on Friday, Patrick Lindsey qualified his MAZDA6 in sixth. He is followed by the BMW 328i of Nick Esayian in seventh.
Championship point leader Saini has a tough task ahead of him, as he will attempt to work his MAZDA6 through the field from eighth on the grid to catch Kleinubing and claim the Championship for himself.
Charles Espenlaub (MAZDA6) and Seth Thomas (BMW 328i) completed the top 10 in qualifying.
The final race of the 2009 SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship Presented by Toyo Tires season will go green at 9:30 a.m. (PDT) Sunday. Live timing, lap notes and streaming audio is available at www.world-challenge.com.
The race will air on SPEED, Nov. 3, at 2 p.m. (EST).
World Challenge is on Twitter @SPEEDWC.