Grand Am: Barber Motorsports Park Qualifying Report
It is a an all-Corvette DP front row and a top-three sweep for Chevrolet in the Daytona Prototype (DP) class of the Rolex Sports Car Series. Richard Westbrook won the pole piloting the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP. Westbrook bested fellow Corvette DP driver Jon Fogarty by seven hundredths of a second to claim the top starting position. Closely behind the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP of Fogarty to score the third spot on the grid was David Donohue, No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP.
Richard Westbrook, nr 90. Spirit of Daytona: “The red flag didn’t seem to hurt us at all because we hadn’t done a lap at that point. We just got the hammer down. The car felt good. It’s felt good all week. The Spirit of Daytona always puts a good car out at Barber (Motorsports Park). We’re particularly strong in race trim. We weren’t sure if we had the outright pace for pole. It just felt great out there. I just enjoyed every second of being in the car. It is just great to give this Corvette its first pole.”
“I love the track. It has a lovely flow to it. I think it could be one of the best in the States. It is a joy to race here. I wish we had something like this in Europe. It is pretty low grip, but it is what it is. And, it is the same for everyone else. The actual undulations and the flow of the track is really unique and it is a challenge. Last year they had a different car to everyone else. This year we’ve got competition from people in the same car. I think the team has stepped up, full stop. I think the idea is we have to be strong everywhere; we’re not just a one-trick pony and we just aren’t good here; we’re hopefully strong everywhere. There is massive momentum all the way through the team; a lot of ambition; a lot of hunger. We want to do something special in this Corvette. The track is an absolute joy to drive. I really enjoy it. The aero on the car is unbelievable. It is really good. It is still a very, very new car and it is only going to get better.
“It is going to race pretty good I think. Our race trim, I felt, was stronger than our qualifying trim. The competition here is very, very strong. There is a lot of quality. I’m new to this format and I have a lot to learn out there. But a good place to start, for sure.”
Jon Fogarty, nr 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing: “It’s always important to start up front. I always get the opportunity to qualify and want to improve upon my record for pole positions. We just missed it by a bit today. But really happy with the progress we made relative to the No. 90 (Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP, pole winner) car from last year to this year. I think we have a much more competitive race car. To be starting up front here, it’s not an easy place to overtake so that is always a good thing. From what we have had in the past, it is a huge improvement. This car is making good downforce. The balance is my nicer. It should be easier on the tires. I saw a good performance from all of the Corvettes throughout the weekend so far. So, definitely this suits us. The GAINSCO car, I think, is right up there at the pointy edge of the Corvette field, so I am happy to be in one for sure.
“Tomorrow we are going to have to execute; make no mistakes. Manage our tire wear. Kind of all the standard stuff. It will be a tough race for sure. I expect a lot of competition. It isn’t a huge field, but everybody is pretty quality, so we’re just going to run and try not to burn the tires off of it. Execute our pit stops. It is a little bit different this year with the smaller fuel cell; we’re going to possibly have an extra stop. The strategy is going to be new to us. We’ll work through it. We’ll just keep our heads down and not make any mistakes. That should be the key.”
David Donohue, nr 5 Action Express Racing: “We’ve been making a lot of improvements to the Action Express Corvette since Daytona. It is proving dividends. It is good that Corvette is on pole, it is just the wrong Corvette as far as I am concerned. (LAUGHS). I think we have a good race car. We will work on it some more and see what we have for tomorrow. I thinking starting near the front is important because it can be such a melee going through turns one and two in the beginning, and even in the hairpin I think you will see a lot of misjudgments shall we say? It’s hard because it is so slick here, and turn one is so close to where the green flag drops and then followed immediately by turn two. So, no one really gets a chance to get their car under them before they are jamming on the brakes and cornering and doing all kinds of stuff. It can lead to a mixed bag; you never know.”
Other Chevrolet qualifiers were:
8th – DP - J.C. France, No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP
9th – DP – Ricky Taylor, No. 10 SunTrust Racing Corvette DP