Christian Szymczak, of Palos Verdes, Calif., captured his 10th consecutive SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup pole position in preparation for Sunday's race. Elliott Skeer, of Carlsbad, Calif., and Jeff Mosing, of Austin, Texas, will start second and third, respectively.
Driving the No. 34 ALARA Racing MX-5, Szymczak recorded a fast lap of 1:24.157 (69.898 mph) around the 10-turn, 1.634-mile temporary street circuit. While that was the official pole time, Patrick Gallagher set the fastest lap time and held the provisional pole position as the drivers exited the racing course.
During the post-qualifying technical inspection, the ride height of Gallagher's No. 28 MAZDASPEED/Howard Concrete Pumping/CTL Engineering MX-5 was determined to be out of compliance. As a result, Gallagher's fast lap of 1:23.842 (70.160 mph) was disallowed, along with the rest of the times he recorded during the session. He will begin Sunday's race from 18th on the grid.
After learning of the disqualification, Szymczak said he looked forward to the prospect of beginning Sunday's race at the front of the pack, in addition to the three bonus points that were awarded for the position.
“It makes it a lot sweeter when you don't think you have the pole, then someone comes up to you and tells you you'll be starting first,:” Szymczak said. “I feel better than before, and that is also three additional points in the championship fight.”
Skeer, who was promoted to second, had a fast lap of 1:24.823 (69.349 mph) driving his No. 17 Pelican Replacement Windows/ZoomZoomNation.com/Alpinestars MX-5. Skeer will start on the outside of the front row, right next to his championship rival.
“It was a brand new track for most of us, as they took the chicane out on the front straight,” Skeer said. “We knew there was some time left out there during practice, so we spent a couple hours trying to find it. We found the additional speed by going over the curbs. As a team, we really had to band together to find a way to get back out front. I think we did a great job of that tonight.
“This race is going to be crazy. It's crunch time in the championship and it's going to be a very good race.”
Szymczak's teammate, Mosing, will start in third after stopping the lap timer at 1:24.901 (69.285 mph) in the No. 13 ALARA Racing MX-5. Mosing said he will do what he can to race the competition tough, but fairly, with the goal of helping Szymczak.
“It's obvious that starting position is important here,” Mosing said. “There's really nowhere to get clean passes done. I'm pretty happy that Christian [Szymczak] and I will start up front. Hopefully we can work together to build a gap to the rest of the field.
“Because I'm only taking part in a couple races this year, points won't help me but they will help Christian [Szymczak]. I'll race fair and hard to do what I can do to get in the head of everyone else, so we can keep the ALARA Racing cars up front.”
Rookie Sebastian Landy will start fourth, following his lap of 1:25.029 (69.181 mph) in the No. 49 Excitation.com MX-5. The result marks Landy's highest starting position of 2013.
John Dean will take to the starting lights in fifth after clocking a 1:25.052 (69.162 mph) behind the wheel of the No. 16 Projections Research/Sick Sideways MX-5.
In the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge, Kenton Koch, of Glendora, Calif., will also be the class polesitter for the 10th time this season. He navigated his No. 63 Skip Barber Racing School SBMX-5 to a fast time of 1:25.540 (68.767 mph).
“It was really hot out there again,” Koch said. “I know that my fastest lap came early in the session. Midway through, I got out of my rhythm, but was able to get back into it and starting working my times back down.
“It's going to be really tough to make clean passes during the race. Starting on pole is a good thing, but we are still going to start behind all the Cup cars. So, one thing we have to watch for is a wreck on the track ahead. Even in this ten-minute session, the brakes built up a lot of heat. Being able to manage the temperature during the race will be very important.”
Robby Foley, of Randolph, N.J., had a best time of 1:26.942 (67.658 mph), which was good enough for second, followed by Lucas Bize, of New York, with a time of 1:27.498 (67.229 mph).
Round 10 of the championship is scheduled for a standing start on Sunday, at 4:00 p.m. (CDT).
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HOUSTON – The starting lineup for Sunday's SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup Round 10 race, part of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston, with position, class, car number in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, fastest lap time, and speed in miles per hour.
1, MX, (34), Christian Szymczak, Palos Verdes, Calif., MX-5, 1:24.157, 69.898.
2, MX, (17), Elliott Skeer, Vista, Calif., MX-5, 1:24.823, 69.349.
3, MX, (13), Jeff Mosing, Austin, Texas, MX-5, 1:24.901, 69.285.
4, MX, (49), Sebastian Landy(R), Great Falls, Va., MX-5, 1:25.029, 69.181.
5, MX, (16), John Dean II, Sebring, Fla., MX-5, 1:25.052, 69.162.
6, MX, (11), Ara Malkhassian, Houston, Texas, MX-5, 1:25.591, 68.726.
7, MX, (21), James Vance(R), Toronto, Ontario, MX-5, 1:25.728, 68.617.
8, MX, (8), Nathanial Sparks, Spanish Fort, Ala., MX-5, 1:26.037, 68.370.
9, MX, (9), Zachry Lee(R), San Antonio, Texas, MX-5, 1:26.601, 67.925.
10, MX, (20), George Jackson(R), Houston, Texas, MX-5, 1:26.813, 67.759.
11, MX, (12), Bryan Hixon(R), San Antonio, Texas, MX-5, 1:28.222, 66.677.
12, MX, (00), Harrison Williams, Houston, Texas, MX-5, 1:29.013, 66.084.
13, MX, (27), Charles Paquin, Ottawa, Ontario, MX-5, 1:29.662, 65.606.
14, MX, (10), Brent Mosing, Lafayette, La., MX-5, 1:30.360, 65.099.
15, MX, (19), Emilee Tominovich, Clarksville, Md., MX-5, 1:31.318, 64.416.
16, MX, (29), Marc Boily, West Chester, Pa., MX-5, 1:33.756, 62.741.
17, MX, (26), Tim Probert, Houston, Texas, MX-5, no time.
18, MX, (28), Patrick Gallagher(R), Thornville, Ohio, MX-5, no time.
1, SBMX, (63), Kenton Koch, Glendora, Calif., Barber MX-5, 1:25.540, 68.767.
2, SBMX, (93), Robby Foley, Randolph, N.J., Barber MX-5, 1:26.942, 67.658.
3, SBMX, (60), Lucas Bize, New York, N.Y., Barber MX-5, 1:27.498, 67.229.
4, SBMX, (97), David Knight, Ludlow, Vt., Barber MX-5, 1:27.688, 67.083.
5, SBMX, (99), Drake Kemper, Toluca Lake, Calif., Barber MX-5, 1:28.446, 66.508.
6, SBMX, (95), Russell Muck, Grosse Pointe, Mich., Barber MX-5, 1:28.456, 66.500.
7, SBMX, (90), Fred Chin, Henderson, Nev., Barber MX-5, no time.