Rolex24 Pole To Max Angelelli; NASCAR’s Johnson Crashes

Daytona Beach, Fla. – With a last lap burst of speed, Max Angelelli gained the pole position for Saturday’s Rolex24 at Daytona. The flashy Italian blazed around the 3.56-mile road course at a speed of 127.293 miles per hour. Angelelli drove the SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara, and he will be joined in the 48th Rolex24 by co-drivers Pedro Lamy and the father-son team of Wayne and Ricky Taylor.

“I was pretty confident of this car and the (Ford) engine,” Angelelli said. “It is a big advantage to be in the front row, particularly if it rains on Saturday, and we will set-up the car for the end of the race when conditions should be better.”

Addressing the importance of the pole, Angelelli stated, “We wanted the pole badly. It is good for the team’s morale after everything we went through last year, losing the championship in the final race.”

Ozz Negri gained the outside front-row starting position on his last lap with a rapid run of 126.765 mph. The Floridian drove Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley, and his teammates are Burt Frisselle, John Pew and Mark Wilkins.

According to Negri, his tires were just heating up and thought another lap might have made the difference. “My tires were just coming up to temperature, but I am happy to be on the front row for this great race,” he said.

Qualifying took place in a 15-minute timed session with most drivers completing six to eight laps in their search for speed. A dozen Daytona Prototypes took qualification runs for the first race of the 2010 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season.

Sharing headlines with pole qualifying was NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who crashed hard into a tire barrier during morning practice. Although bruised, Johnson managed to walk away from his seriously damaged GAINSCO Daytona Prototype. Initially it was thought the car was too damaged to race, but upon further evaluation, his team has decided the Riley chassis can be repaired, and parts will be transported from Charlotte to Daytona Beach tonight.

The Johnson accident took place some 15 laps into his practice run when he took evasive action to miss a slower GT car, spinning off the course and into the tire barrier near the west horseshoe area of the road course. While the two cars did not make contact, Johnson took a hard lick backing into the barrier.

Michael Valiante, in a second Michael Shank Racing Ford, qualified third fastest after topping the speed charts during two practice sessions. His speed was 126.753 mph, a fraction of a second behind teammate Negri.

IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon was the fourth fastest qualifier at 126.706 mph in the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW/Riley, the first outing for the two-car team with BMW power.

Dario Franchitti, Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya will share driving duties with Dixon.

Scott Pruett grabbed the fifth starting position in a companion Ganassi entry with a speed of 126.685 mph. Max Papis, Justin Wilson and Memo Rojas will co-drive with Pruett.

In the 26-car GT qualification field, Jeff Segal took the pole position in his SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 with a speed of 117.274 mph. “It is a huge honor to be on the pole for a race this big,” Segal said. “Qualifying is all about getting the right draft, and we got it today. The Mazda’s have always been strong at Daytona, and it is a really great track for us.”

Teenager Jordan Taylor, son of Wayne Taylor, was second quick at 117.179 mph. He drove the Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda RX-8. In another Mazda RX-8, Sylvain Tremblay was third fastest at 117.081 mph.

Practice continues on Friday and additional qualifying will be allowed for the cars outside the 20-fastest qualifiers. The race flags off Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. EST.

Share Button