ALTON, Va. (Oct. 3, 2009) - Todd Lamb, of Atlanta, Ga., collected his seventh-career SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup pole in preparation for Saturday's Round Nine race at VIRginia International Raceway. Todd Buras, of Melbourne, Fla., qualified second to make it an all-AMG front row for the first half of an MX-5 Cup doubleheader, part of the Bosch Engineering Octoberfest weekend.
After topping both of Friday's practice sessions, it took Lamb and his AMG teammates some time to get up to speed around the 17-turn, 3.27-mile road course for qualifying. With the BFGoodrich tires warmed up on the No. 84 AMG/Traqmate/Luna-C Racing MX-5 and the course clear of traffic, Lamb set a pole time of 2:13.350 (88.279 mph). As this is the series' first visit to VIR, the time set the official MX-5 Cup qualifying lap record at VIR.
"The track, this morning, is a little bit slower than it was yesterday," Lamb said. "It was pretty cold and the track temp was down. It took us a while to get heat in the tires and so it took us about an extra lap to get up to speed. On our first flyer, we hit traffic, so he had to abort that lap and regroup. We came back in the pits, checked our tires pressures, went back out and laid down a couple fast laps. We're happy with what we did. Qualifying could have gone a little better, but overall, an AMG one-two in qualifying is great!"
Lamb has an opportunity to clinch the 2009 SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup Championship in this afternoon's race, should he finish far enough ahead of Marc Miller to build a 64-point lead or more heading into Sunday's final race.
Returning to MX-5 Cup competition for the first time since the 2008 season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Buras qualified second in the No. 14 AMG MX-5. Arriving at the track just minutes before the second practice session on Friday, Buras wasted no time getting up to speed, setting the third-fastest time in practice session two, and qualifying outside the front row this morning. Buras made it an all-AMG front row with a lap of 2:13.508 (88.174 mph).
A trio of ALARA Racing cars completed the top five, led by team owner Ara Malkhassian, of Sonoma, Calif., who will start third. Driving the No. 11 ALARA Racing MX-5, Malkhassian entered a 2:13.620 (88.100 mph). Teammates Lyonel Kent, of Powell, Tenn., and Justin Piscitell, of Patterson, N.Y., followed Malkhassian in the qualifying order. Kent will start fourth in the No. 13 ALARA Racing/eData Solutions MX-5, after entering a 2:13.666 (88.070 mph). Piscitell qualified his No. 89 ALARA/DAMG Racing/MAZDASPEED MX-5 fifth with a 2:13.686 (88.057 mph).
Lamb's chief rival in the MX-5 Cup Championship, Miller, of Holland, Mich., seemed to have top-five qualifying spot locked up before running out of fuel halfway through the 30-minute qualifying session. Miller's No. 28 Team MER/MOCA/Race Now for Autism/MMP MX-5 will instead start from sixth on the grid.
Miller's MER teammates, Nick Mancuso, Zach Ply and Mark Jenkins, qualified seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively.
Making his MX-5 Cup debut this weekend, Ryan Ellis, completed the top 10.
At time of press, all qualifying results were provisional pending technical inspection.
Round Nine of the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup, the first half of a doubleheader weekend, will go green at 3:50 p.m. (EDT) today. Live timing and lap notes are available at www.mx-5cup.com. The race will air on syndicated cable and satellite networks at a later date. MX-5 Cup is also on Twitter @MazdaMX5Cup.