Two-time defending series Champion Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., gave the Volvo brand its first-ever SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT pole today. However, after a post-qualifying coin flip, the top five will invert, meaning Mike Davis, of Huntington Beach, Calif., will start first in this afternoon's World Challenge ACS Grand Prix of Long Beach Presented by Lala Motorsports.
Part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend, the World Challenge GT cars took to the track at 8 a.m. (PDT) Sunday morning for a 30-minute session that saw plenty of action from start to finish. Driving the No. 1 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60, Pobst turned a 1:25.258 (83.098 mph) around the 1.968-mile circuit on his seventh lap, signifying a paramount turnaround for the team, which lost two engines at the season-opening round in Sebring, preventing Pobst from even starting the race.
"Anything is possible with this team," Pobst said. "Most of the guys on the K-PAX/3R Racing team don't recognize their families because they've put in months of 14-hour days working on these Volvos. I knew the cars were going to be good and they're going to continue to get better. What really helps us here is here is the Volvo is all-wheel drive and that's great to have on these tight corners at Long Beach. The all-wheel drive was key to the pole today and the hard, hard work of the K-PAX/3R team."
Pobst earned the last pole for an all-wheel drive car in World Challenge GT, driving an Audi in 2004 at Road America.
Despite the joy of giving Volvo its first-ever series pole, Pobst's effort to give the brand a win today were complicated by the series new post-qualifying coin flip. After the session, the polewinning driver calls heads or tails, a coin is flipped and if the driver has called it correctly, he starts first. If not, the top five invert. Pobst called heads. The coin came up tails.
"It's heartbreaking to lose the coin toss, especially for [team owner] Jim [Haughey] who loves these Volvos," Pobst added. "To have all this hard work to achieve a goal like a pole in a World Challenge GT race, which is a very worthy goal, and then have it flipped right over... That's just one of the breaks of racing, sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn't, but I think we can work our way right back."
From a historical standpoint, Pobst will be credited with his 25th-career pole position and will retain the 15 championship points that come with the award.
Defending race winner Brandon Davis, of Huntington Beach, Calif., qualified his No. 10 Applied Computer Solutions/SunMicro Ford Mustang Cobra second, with a lap of 1:25.533 (82.831 mph) and will start the race fourth.
Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., put two Volvos in the top three, turning a lap of 1:25.567 (82.798 mph) in the No. 8 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60 to qualify, and start, third. James Sofronas, of Newport Beach, Calif., turned a 1:25.994 (82.387 mph)-good enough for fourth fastest and will start his home race from the outside of row one.
Davis, father of Brandon and a veteran of multiple races at Long Beach in both World Challenge GT and Trans-Am, turned a best time of 1:26.104 (82.281 mph) in his No. 11 Applied Computer Solutions/SunMicro Ford Mustang Cobra. The time was good enough for fifth, but Davis will be on the point when the race makes its standing start.
"I'm pleasantly surprised," Davis said. "My goal was to be in the top-10. I ran two-tenths faster than yesterday, and I was happy with that, but then the car broke on the second lap. It was a throttle body, so it wasn't fixable in pitlane and I was done. Then, watching the rest of the field chase that time and to see Brandon get first and then bumped to second was exciting enough, but I stayed in fifth, and I was happy it held up. So then to win the coin toss? It's icing on the cake!"
Sebring winner, and current point leader, Tony Rivera will start sixth in his Porsche 911 GT3, followed by Eric Curran (Chevrolet Corvette), Jason Daskalos (Dodge Viper), Craig Stanton (Porsche GT3 Cup) and Rob Morgan (Porsche 911 GT3).
Driving the No. 07 Aasco Motorsports Porsche, Stanton, of Long Beach, Calif., was the fastest GT3 Cup Shootout qualifier for Porsche Cup cars not prepared to the full World Challenge rules.
The session was stopped for more than 10 minutes to retrieve the stricken No. 9 Lala Motorsports Dodge Viper from the Turn One runoff. Schaldach, who was 13th at the time, had to jump on the brakes to avoid another car entering the turn and brushed the outside wall. The team is working to repair the car prior to the race.
Local driver Dino Crescentini, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., was withdrawn from the remainder of the weekend after his Saturday morning crash in the No. 4 Stoptech/GMG Porsche 911 GT3. After close inspection of the car, it was found that the car lost brake pressure due to a faulty master cylinder, causing Crescentini to crash heavily at Turn One after turning the fourth fastest time. He was transported to the hospital after the incident, treated and released. The team is working on finding a car for him to run at the series next race, May 2, at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
Today's SPEED World Challenge ACS Grand Prix of Long Beach Presented by Lala Motorsports is scheduled to make its standing start after the IndyCar race at 4:15 p.m. (PDT). To follow live lap notes, timing and scoring and listen to live streaming audio, please visit www.world-challenge.com
Position, car number in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, fastest lap time, and speed in miles per hour. Note: Top five inverted from qualifying times after coin flip.
1, (11), Mike Davis, Huntington Beach, Calif., Ford Mustang Cobra, 1:26.104, 82.281.
2, (14), James Sofronas, Newport Beach, Calif., Porsche 911 GT3, 1:25.994, 82.387.
3, (8), Andy Pilgrim, Boca Raton, Fla., Volvo S60, 1:25.567, 82.798.
4, (10), Brandon Davis, Huntington Beach, Calif., Ford Mustang Cobra, 1:25.533, 82.831.
5, (1), Randy Pobst, Gainesville, Ga., Volvo S60, 1:25.258, 83.098.
6, (97), Tony Rivera, Missouri City, Texas, Porsche 911 GT3, 1:26.115, 82.271.
7, (30), Eric Curran, Easthampton, Mass., Chevrolet Corvette, 1:26.374, 82.024.
8, (5), Jason Daskalos, Albuquerque, N.M., Dodge Viper, 1:26.376, 82.022.
9, (07), Craig Stanton(G), Long Beach, Calif., Porsche GT3 Cup, 1:27.273, 81.179.
10, (47), Rob Morgan, Costa Mesa, Calif., Porsche 911 GT3, 1:27.634, 80.845.
11, (17), Rob Foster, Phoenix, Ariz., Dodge Viper, 1:27.774, 80.716.
12, (13), David Welch(R), Kirkland, Wash., Dodge Viper, 1:27.843, 80.653.
13, (05), William Ziegler(R), Jacksonville, Fla., Porsche 911 GT3, 1:27.957, 80.548.
14, (56), Ritch Marziale, Tempe, Ariz., Dodge Viper, 1:27.995, 80.513.
15, (99), Jeff Courtney, Slinger, Wis., Dodge Viper, 1:28.030, 80.481.
16, (9), Gunter Schaldach, Aspen, Colo., Dodge Viper, 1:28.055, 80.458.
17, (34), Tony Gaples, Libertyville, Ill., Chevrolet Corvette, 1:28.076, 80.439.
18, (31), Sonny Whelen, Old Saybrook, Conn., Chevrolet Corvette, 1:28.202, 80.324.
19, (69), Galen Bieker(R)(G), Burbank, Calif., Porsche GT3 Cup, 1:29.364, 79.280.
20, (06), Joey Scarallo, Smithtown, N.Y., Pontiac GTO, 1:29.494, 79.165.
21, (36), Wesley Hoaglund(G), Tustin, Calif., Porsche GT3 Cup, 1:30.135, 78.602.
22, (18), Kyle Foster(R), Phoenix, Ariz., Chevrolet Corvette, 1:30.411, 78.362.
23, (45), Bret Curtis(R)(G), Valencia, Calif., Porsche GT3 Cup, 1:30.663, 78.144.
24, (25), Robert Rodriguez(R)(G), Burbank, Calif., Porsche GT3 Cup, 1:31.078, 77.788.
25, (24), Patrick Flanagan(R)(G), Laguna Niguel, Calif., Porsche GT3 Cup, 1:31.200, 77.684.
26, (4), Dino Crescentini, Manhattan Beach, Calif., Porsche 911 GT3, no time.