WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (July 2, 2010) - Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., claimed to be surprised after earning the World Challenge Championships GT pole on Friday afternoon, based on the morning practices. After five poles in six races, including Saturday's World Challenge Grand Prix of Watkins Glen presented by Sunoco, very few others would be shocked by his success. Pobst is joined by GTS top qualifier Peter Cunningham, of Milwaukee, Wis., and Touring Car's Eric Meyer, of Indianapolis, Ind., on their respective class poles.
Pobst was fourth on the combined practice charts after a pair of Friday morning practices in the No. 6 K-Pax Racing Volvo S60 at the 3.4-mile, 11-turn track in upstate New York. Even at the midway point of the 20-minute qualifying session, Pobst sat well behind the leaders.
With 10 minutes to go, Pobst's Volvo roared to life and put down a lap of 1:54.467 (106.930 mph), 1.183-seconds ahead of Ron Fellows in the No. 2 Carlisle Companies/Cragar Chevrolet Corvette.
It's the 31st career World Challenge pole for Pobst.
"I'm shocked, and very pleased," Pobst said. "I'm pleased with the K-Pax team for putting together a car that has handled all weekend. We tried three sets of Toyo Tires to see if any felt better. I found a set yesterday that felt good right out of the box, and I wanted to save them. I don't know why else we would have gone so incredibly fast. I had been disappointed in practice, turning good laps with a good handling car. I had no big complaints, and we were still off the pace. I'm just thrilled to turn a good lap here, and it came out of nowhere, just like at Mosport. I think it's from a good set of tires that we prepared just right on the K-Pax Volvo for qualifying."
Pobst knows his way around Watkins Glen, having won three World Challenge races in 2007 (a GT race and a pair of Touring Car races) and another GT race in 2008.
"I like Watkins Glen, and I'm not real sure what it is," Pobst said. "I've had a lot of success here. There's just something about the flowing nature of this course. You accelerate for a while, then brake into a corner with a long entry. I still like it better than ever, it's beautiful up here."
Starting alongside Pobst is Fellows, of Mississauga, Ontario. Pobst is running a partial World Challenge schedule this season, but won the last round at his home track of Mosport. Fellows held the pole for the early part of the session with a best lap of 1:55.650 (105.836 mph) until being knocked off by Pobst.
Patrick Lindsey, of Santa Barbara, Calif., jumped into the inside of the second row late in the session with a best time of 1:55.867 (105.638 mph) in the No. 57 Horton/Sloan Securities Porsche 911 GT3, his highest starting position of the season.
The most interesting day may belong to fourth-place qualifier Kuno Wittmer in the No. 13 Dodge Motorsports Dodge Viper. Wittmer was second in the day's first practice session, but crashed his car on the first lap of the second practice. While the team scrambled to prepare a back-up car, Wittmer commandeered the car that teammate Jeff Courtney was driving, the No. 99 Kenda Tire Dodge Viper. That car became the No. 13, and Courtney is waiting to learn if the team can reassemble a car for him to drive in Saturday's race.
Wittmer's qualifying time of 1:56.256 (105.284 mph) left four different manufacturers in the top four of GT qualifying, including the Volvo, Corvette, Porsche and Viper.
Jason Daskalos qualified his No. 5 Daskalos Developments Dodge Viper in 1:57.707 (103.987 mph), good for fifth on the starting grid.
In GTS, Cunningham earned his 36th career World Challenge pole to tie the all-time record held by Pierre Kleinubing. Cunningham turned a lap of 2:06.377 (96.853 mph) in the No. 43 Acura/RealTime Racing Acura TSX to best the GTS field.
"Our car is working really well," Cunningham said. "We got a good lap in toward the end of the run. It still wasn't a perfect lap, but we're quickest in our class anyway. I'm very pleased with how the RealTime Acura is running and we'll hope we can run a consistent race tomorrow."
Cunningham will have a familiar paint scheme on the outside of his row, as Acura/RealTime Racing teammate Nick Esayian, of San Diego, Calif., qualified second. Esayian turned a lap of 2:07.324 (96.132 mph) in his No. 34 Acura/RealTime Racing Acura TSX.
Oakville, Ontario's Ernie Jakubowski qualified third with a best time of 2:08.471 (95.274 mph) in the No. 91 Fuchs/CDOC/Forgeline Porsche Cayman S.
While Cunningham and Pobst are enjoying one of many career pole positions, the story in Touring Car is considerably different. Meyer, a World Challenge rookie, earned his first career pole in the No. 32 XOWii/Samaritan's Feet/Delvira Mazda RX-8 after a best time of 2:13.757 (91.509 mph).
It was a perfect Friday for Meyer, who also led both of the practice sessions earlier in the day.
"Our Mazda is hooked up big-time, Watkins Glen favors our rear-wheel drive car," Meyer said. "The guys did an awesome job on the car, it feels hooked up everywhere. We can carry a lot of momentum on these longer corners and the front-wheel drive cars are pushing in some corners.
"It's good to be on pole, but I'd rather chase than be up front. I'd like to get up front and gap the cars behind us, but if I don't I'd rather sit back and play possum for a bit and make a move at the end. Our car is absolutely great, though, our tire strategy has been to run on stickers for 45 minutes straight and yesterday at the test our lap times were spot on from the beginning to the end. I'm looking forward to the race."
Dan Gardner, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., posted his best career qualifying effort with a time of 2:14.034 (91.320 mph) to start on the first row of the Touring Car field. Gardner is behind the wheel of the No. 36 DG Spec/Scion/TRD/Lepper&Associates Scion tC.
Alexander Lvov, of St. Petersburg, Russia, qualified third with a lap of 2:14.401 (91.070 mph). It is Lvov's first World Challenge appearance in the No. 9 Honda GMS Honda Civic Si since the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. in the season opener.
Robert Stout, the Touring Car Drivers' Championship leader, qualified fourth in the No. 18 DG Spec/Scion/TRD/Lucas Oil Scion tC with a best time of 2:15.211 (90.525 mph). Brett Sandberg's best time of 2:15.406 (90.394 mph) qualified him fifth in the No. 28 Whitehall Stable Acura TSX.
The grid is now set for Saturday afternoon's World Challenge Grand Prix of Watkins Glen presented by Sunoco, with the standing start scheduled for 4:15 p.m. EDT.
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