Winchester, Francis Jr. earn Touring Car and Touring Car B-Spec World Challenge poles
Ryan Winchester scored his second career Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car Pole and led a pair of teammates to the top of the times on Friday at Circuit of The Americas. Fifteen-year-old Ernie Francis Jr. scored his first career Touring Car B pole in the same session to set the grid for Saturday's Round 1 Pirelli World Challenge Cadillac Sports Car Challenge TC/TCB race.
Winchester posted his pole time of 1:46.382 (77.832mph) on the 2.3-mile National Course at COTA, just 0.023 second faster than Compass360 Racing teammate Remo Ruscitti. Winchester's No. 72 Ultimate Racing/HPD Honda Civic Si and Ruscitti's No. 71 Ultimate Racing/HPD Honda Civic Si will share the front row for Saturday's race after Ruscitti laid down an official time of 1:46.405.
“Qualifying got off to a good start,” Winchester said. “The order was based off the highest returning driver in the (2012 season) points, so I got to go out first. I got my two clean laps and ended up putting the fastest time of the session down. I get to start out front, which is going to be huge this weekend.
“For the races I expect it to be a hard-fought battle between the three (Compass 360) team cars. The Volkswagen's have shown to be fast, but we'll see what happens in the race. We're looking for a one-two-three finish and that's what we're expecting to get.”
Brett Sandberg, driving the No. 70 Ultimate Racing/HPD Honda Civic Si, snuck into the top three late in the 30-minute session with a time of 1:46.916 on his seventh lap. Sandberg's lap completed the qualifying sweep for Compass360 Racing.
Next in line and starting on the outside of row two is Conner Ford, driving the No. 30 Emich VW/StopTech/3Zero3 Motorsports Volkswagen GTI. Ford posted his qualifying marker of 1:47.061 on the second lap of the session, then pulled to pit lane soon after.
The No. 42 Gear Tie/Go4It Racing Schools/Hawk Pontiac Solstice of Dan Martinson will start fifth after a time of 1:47.061.
Francis Jr. scored his first career Pirelli World Challenge pole position with a lap of 2:00.971 (68.446mph) in the Series' first visit to the Austin circuit. The No. 98 Hydraulic Jeans MAZDA2 will lead a field of 21 TCB cars to the green flag on Saturday.
“In the beginning I was fighting with the Minis a little bit,” Francis Jr. said. “When they finally pulled into the pits, I got some clean air on track, and was able to pull out a two minute flat.”
“I just want to try and get a top-three on Saturday and Sunday, but I'm really hoping for a victory. If I keep my head straight, and don't look at my mirrors too much, I think I can come out on top.”
Just like Thursday's practice, four MINI Coopers follow the Mazda of Francis on the grid. Starting on the outside of the front row is the No. 37 MINI Financial Services MINI Cooper of Robbie Davis, whose lap of 2:01.487 left him 0.516sec behind Francis.
Teammates Charlie James and Mike Asselta comprise the second row of the TCB grid. James earned the inside position with a lap of 2:01.744 in the No. 0 SafeRacer MINI Cooper, with Asselta's No. 7 SafeRacer MINI Cooper outside with a time of 2:02.240. Johan Schwartz will start fifth in the No. 01 Endurancekarting.com MINI Cooper with a time of 2:02.375.
Round One of the Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car and Touring Car B-Spec championships is set for a green flag, in a rolling start, at 8:40 a.m. (CDT), for a 25-minute race. Round Two immediately follows, scheduled to get the green flag at 9:20 a.m. for a 25-minute race. Sunday's Round Three is scheduled to leave the grid from a standing start at 8:20 a.m. All races will be streamed live at www.world-challengetv.com
More information on the series can be found at www.world-challenge.com or on Twitter @WCRacing.
1, TC, (72), Ryan Winchester, Mason City, Iowa, Honda Civic Si, 1:46.382, 77.832.
2, TC, (71), Remo Ruscitti(R), Vancouver, Calif., Honda Civic Si, 1:46.405, 77.815.
3, TC, (70), Brett Sandberg, Allendale, N.J., Honda Civic Si, 1:46.916, 77.444.
4, TC, (30), Conner Ford, Allen, Texas, Volkswagen, 1:47.061, 77.339.
5, TC, (42), Dan Martinson(R), Rogers, Minn., PontiacSolstice, 1:47.462, 77.050.
6, TC, (68), Jon Miller, Orlando, Fla., Honda Civic Si, 1:48.131, 76.573.
7, TC, (43), Sarah Cattaneo, Scottsdale, Ariz., Honda Civic Si, 1:48.370, 76.405.
8, TC, (64), Patrick Seguin, Clarence Creek, Ontario, Honda Civic, 1:49.193, 75.829.
9, TC, (87), Fred Emich, Denver, Colo., Volkswagen Jetta, 1:49.274, 75.772.
10, TC, (33), Tristan Herbert, Reston, Va., Volkswagen GLI, 1:49.747, 75.446.
11, TC, (41), Michael Pettiford, Louisville, Colo., Volkswagen Jetta, 1:50.633, 74.842.
12, TC, (21), Charlie Solomon, Irving, Texas, Mazda RX-8, 1:51.530, 74.240.
13, TC, (88), Thomas Martin, Denver, Colo., Volkswagen GTI, 1:53.087, 73.218.
14, TC, (40), Dinah Weisberg(R), Webster, N.Y., Porsche Boxster, 1:53.857, 72.722.
15, TC, (03), Colin Cohen, Southlake, Texas, Volkswagen GTI, 1:57.249, 70.619.
16, TC, (5), Mike Skeen, Charlotte, N.C., Mazda MX-5, no time.
17, TCB, (98), Ernie Francis_Jr(R), Davie, Fla., Mazda2, 2:00.971, 68.446.
18, TCB, (37), Robbie Davis, Dallas, Texas, Mini Cooper, 2:01.487, 68.155.
19, TCB, (0), Charlie James(R), Joplin, Mo., Mini Cooper, 2:01.744, 68.011.
20, TCB, (7), Mike Asselta(R), Overland Park, Kansas, Mini Cooper, 2:02.240, 67.735.
21, TCB, (01), Johan Schwartz, Denmark, , Mini Cooper, 2:02.375, 67.660.
22, TCB, (09), Branden Miller(R), Salt Lake City, Utah, Ford Fiesta, 2:03.165, 67.226.
23, TCB, (2), Ernie Francis(R), Davis, Fla., Mazda2, 2:03.374, 67.113.
24, TCB, (81), Joel Lipperini, Pittston, Pa., Honda Fit, 2:03.673, 66.950.
25, TCB, (55), Chip Howell(R), Chapel Hill, S.C., Mini Cooper, 2:03.740, 66.914.
26, TCB, (66), P J Groenke, Toronto, Ontario, Honda Fit, 2:04.107, 66.716.
27, TCB, (67), Shea Holbrook, Groveland, Fla., Honda Fit, 2:04.154, 66.691.
28, TCB, (24), Scott Kuhne, Fort Wayne, Ind., BMW Mini Cooper, 2:04.681, 66.409.
29, TCB, (99), David Alejandro(R), Pembrook Pines, Fla., Mazda2, 2:04.797, 66.347.
30, TCB, (00), Brianne Corn(R), San Marcos, Texas, Mazda2, 2:05.360, 66.049.
31, TCB, (32), Jonathan Baker(R), Hollywood, Md., Honda, 2:05.789, 65.824.
32, TCB, (77), Fernando Seferlis(R), Panama, , Mazda2, 2:06.839, 65.279.
33, TCB, (95), Steve Taake(R), Houston, Texas, Mazda 2, 2:06.865, 65.266.
34, TCB, (22), Chris Capaldi(R), Armada, Mich., Ford Fiesta, 2:07.398, 64.993.
35, TCB, (11), Jack Murray(R), Montgomery, Texas, Fiat 500, 2:08.977, 64.197.
36, TCB, (48), ED Magner, Portage, Mich., Mini Cooper, no time.
37, TCB, (78), Jim Cleveland(R), Queensland Australia, Fiat 500, no time.