Romain Dumas earned his first career Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 pole position Saturday at the 2.25-mile Thunderbolt Raceway at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Dumas will lead the field to the green flag for Sunday's Verizon Wireless 250 Sunday. (SPEED, live, 1 p.m.)
Dumas, driving the No. 12 Verizon Wireless Porsche Riley for Penske Racing, made his first qualifying attempt of the 2009 season count, as he drove the Daytona Prototype to a time of 1:14.057 (109.375 mph). He and co-driver Timo Bernhard will be making their first starts at New Jersey.
The native Frenchman outlasted two-time Daytona Prototype champion Scott Pruett, who said weather reports altered the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team's strategy and put him in the seat of the No. 01 TELMEX Lexus Riley for qualifying. Pruett's time of 1:14.265 (109.069 mph) put him on the outside of the front row, giving the team its second straight front row start. Memo Rojas will take the wheel after Pruett made his first qualifying attempt in a sprint race since last season at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec.
Third was Jon Fogarty, driving the No. 99 GAINSCO Pontiac Riley, with a time of 1:14.919 (108.117 mph). Following were Nic Jönsson, in the No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Lola, with a time of 1:14.968 (108.046 mph), and Brian Frisselle, in the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara, with a time of 1:15.201 (107.711 mph).
Point leaders and Rolex 24 At Daytona co-winners Darren Law and David Donohue will start 11th in the No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley, while defending race co-winners Mark Patterson and Ozz Negri - driving the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley - will start alongside in 12th.
In GT, defending GT co-champion Kelly Collins earned his ninth career class pole and first of 2009, as he drove the No. 07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R to a time of 1:21.369 (99.547 mph). Collins will split time in the No. 07 with Paul Edwards on Sunday.
Andrew Davis, last weekend's winner of the Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway, qualified second in the No. 57 BryanMark Financial Pontiac GXP.R with a time of 1:21.443 (99.456 mph). Davis and Robin Liddell are tied with Collins and Edwards atop the point standings, all with 60 points, and Pontiac earned its first 1-2 sweep of the front row this season.
No. 70 Castrol Syntec/Mazda Mazda RX-8 co-driver Nick Ham was third with a time of 1:21.957 (98.832 mph), as the team's two-race pole-winning streak came to an end. Fourth was Dane Cameron in the No. 30 Marquis Jet/IPC Mazda RX-8, with a time of 1:22.111 (98.647 mph), and fifth was Leh Keen in the No. 86 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3, with a time of 1:22.132 (98.622 mph).
Last year's race co-winners Andy Lally and Tim George Jr. will start ninth and 17th in the Nos. 67 No Fear Energy Drink and 68 CRG/Ruby Tuesday Porsche GT3s - both prepared by TRG - respectively.
A warm-up is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Sunday, with the two-hour and 45-minute race starting at approximately 1:07 p.m.
NEWS & NOTES:
- This is Romain Dumas' first career Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series pole position and the second pole of the season for a Porsche-powered Daytona Prototype.
- This is the first pole position for Penske Racing in Rolex Series Daytona Prototype competition.
- Scott Pruett qualified for a sprint race for the first time since last August's two-hour race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec. The TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team earned its second straight front row start, as Memo Rojas earned the pole at Virginia International Raceway.
- Jon Fogarty matched his Bob Stallings Racing team's best start of the season with a third-place qualifying effort.
- Despite spinning out early in his qualifying effort, Nic Jönsson qualified the No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Lola fourth, a season best.
- The top four qualifiers came from different manufacturers - Porsche, Lexus, Pontiac and Riley
- In GT, Kelly Collins earned his ninth class pole and first of the season. It was also Pontiac's first pole position of the season, as Mazda earned the first two poles of 2009.
- This is the second straight 1-2 front row sweep for a manufacturer. Mazda earned a 1-2 sweep at Virginia International Raceway.
- Mazdas swept the second row, with Nick Ham and Dane Cameron - last weekend's front row starters - taking the third and fourth-place starting positions.
- Leh Keen was fifth in the highest starting Porsche GT3.