TOOELE, Utah (May 17, 2008) – Jason Saini, of Fort Worth, Texas, became the first rookie to score an SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car pole position in three years today, and will start first in Sunday’s Round Three race at Miller Motorsports Park, part of the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Grand Prix of Utah Presented by the Grand and Little America Hotels weekend. Pierre Kleinubing, of Coconut Creek, Fla., will start second.
Driving the No. 74 MAZDASPEED/Stoptech/Racinghart MAZDA6, Saini turned a lap of 2:06.176 (86.964 mph) in his first tour around the 15-turn, 3.048-mile circuit. The lap was a full half second faster than Kleinubing’s best, a large margin in SPEED Touring Car competition.
Saini, who was awarded the drive with TriPoint Racing after winning the 2007 SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup, was happy to finally start up front after lining up toward the back of the first two races this season.
“I’ve got to thank Mazda, the Mazda ladder system and TriPoint,” Saini said. “To be here is a dream come true for me. To be able to put the car up front...I was beginning to wonder, after the first couple of races, starting at the back, if I belonged here. They put their faith in me and I’m glad to be able deliver for them.
“The car was great. I was looking at the time on the dashboard and I didn’t figure it would be enough based on everything we’d been doing in practice. They came over the radio and said it was pole by a half-second and I was blown away. To be ahead of guys like Galati and Cunningham and Kleinubing is just a dream come true. I watched these guys race as a fan and now I get to be here with them.”
Saini became the first rookie to win an SCCA SPEED Touring Car pole since Brandon Davis at Mosport in 2005.
Kleinubing, who won from the pole at Sebring International Raceway in Round One, will start second in the No. 43 Acura/RealTime/Eibach/Red Line Acura TSX after turning a fast lap of 2:06.680 (86.618 mph).
Kleinubing’s teammate Peter Cunningham, of Milwaukee, Wis., will start third in the No. 42 Acura/RealTime/Eibach/Red Line Acura TSX with a lap of 2:06.738 (86.578 mph).
Saini’s teammates, Charles Espenlaub, of Lutz, Fla., and Jim Dainiels, of Germantown, Tenn., completed the top five. Espenlaub turned a lap of 2:06.867 (86.490 mph) in the No. 73 MAZDASPEED/Stoptech/Racinghart MAZDA6 and Daniels turned a 2:07.120 (86.318 mph) in the No. 75 entry.
Point leader Kuno Wittmer (Acura TSX), Michael Galati (MAZDA6), Seth Thomas (BMW 325i), Jason Martinelli (BMW 325i) and James Clay (BMW 325i) completed the top 10.
Sunday’s race makes its standing start at 9:30 a.m. (MDT). To watch the race with live timing and scoring and lap notes via the SCCA Pit Board, please visit www.world-challenge.com. Sunday’s race will be broadcast Wednesday, May 28 at noon (EDT).
TOOELE, Utah - Starting lineup for Sunday's SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship part of the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix at Miller Motorsports Park, with position, car number in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, fastest lap time, and speed in miles per hour.
1, (74), Jason Saini(R), Fort Worth, Texas, MAZDA6, 2:06.176, 86.964.
2, (43), Pierre Kleinubing, Coconut Creek, Fla., Acura TSX, 2:06.680, 86.618.
3, (42), Peter Cunningham, Milwaukee, Wis., Acura TSX, 2:06.738, 86.578.
4, (73), Charles Espenlaub, Lutz, Fla., MAZDA6, 2:06.867, 86.490.
5, (75), Jim Daniels(R), Germantown, Tenn., MAZDA6, 2:07.120, 86.318.
6, (44), Kuno Wittmer, Montreal, Quebec, Acura TSX, 2:07.127, 86.313.
7, (95), Michael Galati, Olmsted, Ohio, MAZDA6, 2:07.472, 86.080.
8, (38), Seth Thomas, Cumming, Ga., BMW 325i, 2:07.567, 86.016.
9, (8), Jason Martinelli, Roxbury, Conn., BMW 325i, 2:07.840, 85.832.
10, (36), James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., BMW 325i, 2:07.863, 85.816.
11, (46), Dino Crescentini, Malibu, Calif., Acura TSX, 2:08.146, 85.627.
12, (57), Patrick Lindsey(R), Santa Barbara, Calif., MAZDA6, 2:08.167, 85.613.
13, (34), Nick Esayian, San Diego, Calif., BMW 325i, 2:08.295, 85.527.
14, (96), Charlie Putman, Mills, Wyo., MAZDA6, 2:08.635, 85.301.
15, (97), Chip Herr, Lititz, Pa., MAZDA6, 2:10.937, 83.802.
16, (52), Byron Smith, Salt lake City, Utah, BMW 330i, 2:10.975, 83.777.
17, (49), Branden Peterson, Breckenridge, Colo., Acura TSX, 2:14.307, 81.699.