Daytona: Aim for the Pole as Grand Am Makes Second 2008 Visit to Daytona

Aim Autosport secure their first pole position in Grand Am competition

Two years ago, AIM Autosports debuted in Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 competition at Daytona International Speedway for the Brumos Porsche 250. Thursday, Mark Wilkins gave the team its first pole position, winning the pole for the Brumos Porsche 250.

"This is great for the team," said the 25-year-old Canadian who ran a lap of 1:41.223 (126.612 mph). "This has been a tough year for the team, and this pole has been a long time coming. We've been working very hard, and it feels great to get that pole. Now, we want our first win. We've been running out front and finally got our pole. Now we need to win."

Wilkins, who shares the No. 61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley with Brian Frisselle, will be joined in the front row by Jon Fogarty. The winner of the most recent Rolex Series race at Mid-Ohio, Fogarty ran a lap of 1:41.627 (126.108 mph) in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley he co-drives with fellow defending Daytona Prototype co-champion Alex Gurney.

Michael Valiante timed in third fastest in the debut of the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Dallara, 1:41.881 (125.794 mph). That car replaces the team's original Dallara that was destroyed in a highway transporter fire in May. He will be joined in the second row by Rolex 24 At Daytona winner Memo Rojas, who ran a lap of 1:41.927 (125.737 mph) in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley he co-drives with Scott Pruett. The two have four 2008 Daytona Prototype victories and share the point lead.

Gainsco took second on the grid

Rounding out the top 10 qualifiers were David Donohue, Brad Jaeger, Bill Auberlen, Mark Patterson, Ricky Taylor and John Pew.

Nick Ham ended a trend in GT qualifying, becoming the first repeat pole winner in that division. Ham ran a lap of 1:51.641 (115.834 mph) in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 co-driven by Sylvain Tremblay. It was the third consecutive pole for the team at Daytona. Ham won the pole for the 2007 Brumos Porsche 250, and went on to win. Tremblay won the pole for the 2008 season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, and went on to win with Ham, David Haskell and Raphael Matos.

"I just went out and tried my hardest," Ham said. "I got an incredible draft on my last lap, and the hard work put in by David Haskell and everyone on the team really paid off. That car is really hooked up right now. It wasn't my best lap, but I drafted two cars and that got me the pole."

Dirk Werner will start from the outside of the front row in the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche GT3. His lap of 1:50.641 (115.834 mph) managed to knock Ham off the pole midway through the session.

"I came pretty close," Werner said. "After doing that lap, I thought I won the pole, but the Mazda had something in reserve and did a very good lap. That doesn't mean anything necessarily for the race, and I think we've got a good car for tonight. It's a long race, and we're just going to try to stay close."

Emil Assentato will start third in the No. 69 FXDD SpeedSource Mazda RX-8, 1:51.580 (114.859 mph).

"As late as yesterday I was wondering if I would even be able to get behind the wheel," Assentato. "But I woke up this morning and felt good, and felt even better after this morning's practice. We've got a really good car, and it ran like a top. Jeff (Segal) and I are really pumped up for this race, and we've got a good shot to be up on the podium."

Craig Stone qualified fourth in GT, followed by James Gue, Eric Lux, Ryan Phinny, Andrew Davis, Tom Nastasi and Kelly Collins.

Post Daytona Prototype Qualifying Quotes

Jon Fogarty (No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley): "We had a good run. We knew Mark was going to be tough to beat. They were very fast during the 24 hour race here and they are on quite a roll, with a good run at Mid-Ohio. We're pretty happy with our starting position. We're ahead of the No. 01 car. It's gonna be a little bit different track in the evening, and if it rains, but we're liking where we're at."

Mark Wilkins (No. 61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley): "For me, I'm absolutely elated. It's been a long time coming. The team has worked exceptionally hard over the past two years. This being sort of our inaugural event, it's great to come back here and have the car in the front. In 2006, we got rained on and I was last, so it's good to be on the flip side of that. I've worked with AIM Autosport, a small team up in Canada, for seven years and it's fantastic with all the crew guys did a lot of work with set-up to get the car up and going. It came together today and the car is great. Brian and I are very close everywhere we go. We like similar cars and we are about the same size so that helps with driver changes. It's really a great pairing. I've got to thank Brian for his work on set-up this morning. He's really been working on the car trying to get the most out of the car each session. We really got the car great off the trailer an all that hard work has paid off."

The Speedsource Mazda took GT pole

Post GT Qualifying Quotes

CRAIG STONE (No. 30 Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda RX-8): "Fourth place for us is really good for where our team is right now. Mazda has given up a really good car, and we're really excited for tonight's race. I want to do good for everyone involved."

EMIL ASSENTATO (No. 69 FXDD SpeedSource Mazda RX-8): "As late as yesterday I was wondering if I would be able to get behind the wheel, but when I woke up this morning I felt pretty good. We did some practice and I felt even better. They gave me a real good car. The FXDD Mazda just ran like a top. I didn't get the pole, so it didn't run that good, but it was still pretty good. Jeff (Segal) and I are really pumped up about this race. I think we've got a good shot to be on the podium again."

DIRK WERNER (No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3): "It came pretty close. After the lap I did I thought we had the pole, but obviously the Mazda has some reserve somewhere. They did a very good lap. But that doesn't necessarily mean something for the race. We have a good car for the race. We're just going to try to keep the tires under the car. It's a long race. We're going to try to stay close and then beat them at the end."

NICK HAM (No. 70 SpeedSource Mazdaspeed/Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8): "Grand-Am had a good thing going with eight different pole winners this year, but I just had to go out there and try my hardest. It was a good lap. I had an incredible draft at the end. The hard work we did last Monday at Mid-Ohio and all the work we've done this year with David Haskell and the guys has paid off. That car is really hooked up right now. That last lap wasn't my best one, but I drafted two cars coming onto the front straight and that really helped. My first lap was a really good clean lap, and I felt I didn't leave anything on the table. Then when they told me about Dirk's lap, I absolutely didn't think I could win the pole. But that draft at the end pulled me along. I think winning the pole is encouraging for tonight."


Pos Class CPos Drivers Team Car Time
1 DP 1 Br.Frisselle, M.Wilkins AIM Autosport Ford Riley 01:41.2
2 DP 2 J.Fogarty, A.Gurney Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley 01:41.6
3 DP 3 M.Angelelli, M.Valiante SunTrust Racing Pontiac Dallara 01:41.9
4 DP 4 S.Pruett, M.Rojas Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley 01:41.9
5 DP 5 D.Donohue, D.Law Brumos Porsche Porsche Riley 01:42.4
6 DP 6 M.Gidley, B.Jaeger Doran Racing Ford Dallara 01:43.0
7 DP 7 B.Auberlen, J.Hand Alex Job Racing Porsche Crawford 01:43.2
8 DP 8 O.Negri, M.Patterson Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley 01:43.3
9 DP 9 Bu.Frisselle R.Taylor Doran Racing Ford Dallara 01:43.5
10 DP 10 I.James, J.Pew Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley 01:43.6
11 DP 11 M.Goossens, J.Matthews Bob Stallings/Riley-Matthews Pontiac Riley 01:43.7
12 DP 12 B.Lester, S.Lewis Southard Motorsports Lexus Riley 01:43.8
13 DP 13 N.Jonsson, R.Zonta Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola 01:44.0
14 DP 14 M.Plumb, G.Sigal Sigalsport Rum Bum Racing BMW Riley 01:44.2
15 DP 15 M-A.Camirand, G.Cosmo Spirit of Daytona Racing Porsche Coyote 01:44.3
16 DP 16 J.Barbosa, JC.France Brumos Porsche Porsche Riley 01:44.5
17 DP 17 T.Krohn, E.van de Poele Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola 01:46.9
18 DP 18 A.Gracia, T.Kimber-Smith Cheever Racing Pontiac Coyote 01:47.1
19 DP 19 R.Dalziel, H.Zogaib SAMAX BMW Riley 01:47.9
20 GT 1 N.Ham, S.Tremblay SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 01:50.6
21 GT 2 B.Miller, D.Werner Farnbacher Loles Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup 01:50.9
22 GT 3 E.Assentato, J.Segal, D.Haskell SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 01:51.6
23 GT 4 C.Stone, R.Smith Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda RX-8 01:51.6
24 DP 20 J.Beyer, J.Taylor Beyer Racing Ford Crawford 01:51.8
25 GT 5 J.Gue, J.Stevenson, J.Bucknum Stevenson Motorsports Corvette 01:52.0
26 GT 6 L.Keen, E.Lux Farnbacher Loles Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup 01:52.3
27 GT 7 D.Alessi, M.Connolly Matt Connolly Motorsports Pontiac GTO.R 01:52.6
28 GT 8 A.Davis, R.Liddell Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R 01:52.7
29 GT 9 J-F.Dumoulin, T.Nastasi Blackforest Motorsports Mustang Cobra GT 01:52.8
30 GT 10 K.Collins, P.Edwards Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R 01:53.3
31 GT 11 T.George, S.Pumpelly TRG Porsche GT3 Cup 01:53.6
32 GT 12 T.Ballou, A.Lally TRG Porsche GT3 Cup 01:53.7
33 GT 13 T.Borcheller, T.Lewis Autohaus Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R 01:53.9
34 GT 14 P.Dempsey, J.Foster Hyper Sport Mazda RX-8 01:54.1
35 GT 15 C.Friedman, M.McGehee Autometrics Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup 01:54.2
36 GT 16 M.Bunting, L.Reese, L.Aschenbach Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R 01:54.4
37 GT 17 L.Willsey, M.Riolo Orbit Porsche GT3 Cup 01:54.9
38 GT 18 L.Bowman, B.Said Orbit Porsche GT3 Cup 01:56.1
39 GT 19 B.Sellers, RJ.Valentine TRG Porsche GT3 Cup 01:56.7
40 GT 20 H.Maher, C.Stanton TRG Porsche GT3 Cup 01:57.0
41 GT 21 J.Safina, D.Skea, B.Patch Safina/Mitchum Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup 01:58.0
42 GT 22 J.Lowe, J.Pace JLowe Racing Porsche GT3 Cup 01:59.1
43 GT 23 Je.Jacalone, Jo.Jacalone Gotham Competition Porsche GT3 Cup 01:59.2