Lime Rock: Lewis, Pontiac Dominate Qualifying

The Chevrolet's were not on the pace of the Pontiac

Tim Lewis Jr. led a Pontiac GXP.R assault on the front two rows in qualifying for Monday's Grand-Am GT Classic at Lime Rock Park, winning the pole for Round 6 of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.

The 164-lap, 250-mile race is set for 2 p.m. Monday on the 1.53-mile circuit, and will be televised live on SPEED. The race has a two hour, 45 minute time limit.

Lewis ran a track record lap of 52.393, 105.128 mph in the No. 72 Autohaus Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R, to become the sixth different GT class pole winner in 2008. Lewis won his lone career Rolex Series victory here last year, co-driving the No. 06 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R with Leighton Reese.

"Winning the pole is a great way to start the weekend, and I'm going to try to defend my win," said the 25-year-old driver from Boca Raton, Fla. "I got clear traffic and I was able to throw in a good lap, and it stuck. It was a good job for the Autohaus Motorsports team."

Andrew Davis was second fastest in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R, 52.458, 104.998, making it an all-Pontiac front row. Davis and co-driver Robin Liddell won the GT races at Mexico City and Virginia International Raceway, but were involved in an incident in the most recent event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

"I'm very proud of the Stevenson Motorsports crew," Davis said. "They have been working real hard to repair the damage from Laguna Seca, and they've had us near the top of the charts all weekend. It was close for the pole. I thought I had something for Tim, but we just weren't able to put down a good lap at the end."

The two Banner Racing Pontiacs GXP.Rs will start in the second row. Jan Magnussen was third fastest in the No. 06 entry he shares with Ron Fellows, 52.641, 104.633 mph, while Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca winner Kelly Collins was fourth in the No. 07 co-driven by Paul Edwards, 52.758, 104.401 mph.

"I got in one clean lap, and I'm happy with it," Collins said. "Right now, this is a win-win for Pontiac. We want to get customers here in this series and get good exposure. We knew coming in that Lime Rock was going to be a good place for the Pontiac GXP.R., and it's going to be a good photo for the start. Hopefully, we can find a little bit more grip on our car, work on our pit strategy and try to win this race."

Nick Ham had the fastest-qualifying non-Pontiac, running 52.904, 104.113 mph in the SpeedSource Castrol Mazda RX-8, while sixth-fastest was the Matt Connolly Pontiac GTO.R of Ryan Phinny, 52.994, 103.936 mph.

Porsches took the next three positions. Eric Lux and Dominik Farnbacher will share the fourth row in a pair of Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3s, while Bryan Sellers will share the ninth-qualifying TRG Porsche GT3 with R.J. Valentine and Andy Lally. Rounding out the top 10 was Tommy Constantine in the Racers Edge Motorsports Playboy Mazda RX-8.

While Pontiacs dominated qualifying, Magnussen cautioned that the race may be a different story.

"I think we're in good shape for the race, but I think that's true for everybody else," the seven-time Rolex Series winner said. "The Pontiacs look ahead right now, but the Porsches and Mazdas will be good in the race. They always are."

Monday's schedule opens with GT practice at 9 a.m., followed by a two and a half hour Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport race at 9:45 a.m.