SEBRING, Fla. (March 17, 2004) – Bob Stretch, of Dallas, Texas, paced SCCA Pro Racing SPEED Touring Car practice today in preparation for Thursday’s season-opening qualifying at Sebring International Raceway. Defending race and series Champion Bill Auberlen, of Rolling Hills Estates, Calif. , and Brazilian Pierre Kleinubing completed the top three.
Driving the No. 98 Wheels America BMW 325Ci, Stretch posted a fastest lap of 2:22.421 (93.526 mph) in the second session; a full 1.7 seconds clear of the rest of the field. A reflection of the new spec Toyo Proxes RA-1 race tires for 2004, the lap is over four seconds faster than the existing qualifying record.
“Our speed is the result of the work of Ken Murillo over the winter,” Stretch said. “I think that other teams haven’t gotten it together just yet. I expect it will close up substantially tomorrow [in qualifying]. The pole time will probably be around a 2:22.7.”
Unlike Stretch’s fast time, Auberlen’s came in the first session of the day, just prior to making contact with the tire wall in turn 17, bringing out the checkered flag early. The No. 1 Turner Motorsport/H&R Springs BMW 325i returned for the evening session, but was unable to improve on his 2:24.116 lap time.
Driving the No. 42 RealTime Racing Acura TSX for the first time, Kleinubing was second quick in the evening session, turning a 2:24.267 that was good enough for third overall. Justin Marks , of Woodside , Calif. , and James Sofronas, of Newport Beach , Calif. , completed the top five in their BMWs.
Qualifying for Friday’s Round One race is set for Thursday at 11:20 a.m. (EST). Catch all the action, including Live Timing Presented by Cadillac, at www.world-challenge.com. Friday’s race will be broadcast Sunday, March 21 at 12:00 noon (EST) on SPEED Channel.