Gue, Turner Lead KONI Challenge Practice Friday at Barber

July 17, 2009


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 17, 2009) – James Gue and Will Turner paced their respective classes during Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge practice Friday at Barber Motorsports Park, the eighth of 11 rounds on the 2009 season, but both drivers downplayed their times off as the series reaches one of its hottest weekends.

Gue turned a lap of 1:38.392 (84.153 mph) in the No. 37 Trumansburg ShurSave Ford Mustang GT he shares with Bret Seafuse. Second were point leader Ken Wilden and co-driver Dean Martin in the No. 59 Rehagen Racing Ford Mustang GT with a time of 1:38.557 (84.012 mph), while Billy Johnson and Jack Roush Jr. were third in the No. 61 Valvoline/Roush Ford Mustang GT, giving Ford a sweep of the top three positions.

For the most part, Ford Mustangs picked up right where they left off from last season’s race. Last season, Mustangs swept the podium, with the No. 37 second and No. 59 third in the race. Gue said he expects to be fast during both qualifying and the race, and did not express much emotion following the session.

In addition, Friday’s practice was run at 3:05 p.m. CT. GS qualifying will be run in the late morning, and the race will be contested at 8:20 a.m. Sunday.

“Practice was good to us today,” Gue said. “Practice times, especially since the track changes so much, don’t mean much though. The key is to have a fast car during the race, and I think we have a car that is fast in both practice and could be in the race as well. The JBS (Motorsports) guys have done an excellent job as usual, and I think we’re just kind of fine tuning right now.

“This track has definitely been good to us in the past,” Gue continued. “We’ve always been fast and been strong here, and led a long time last year. And I work here as well – I’m at the track 50-60 days a year – so I know it very well. I’m comfortable with it, and it’s one of my favorite tracks.”

Turner, who enters the weekend looking for his second victory of the season in the No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW 328i, set a time of 1:42.355 (80.895 mph). Turner, teamed with Canadian rookie Paul Dalla Lana, also concluded that Friday’s practice session did little in establishing who would be strong in qualifying and during the race.

“Being first in a practice session doesn’t mean a whole lot,” Turner said. “You never know if people are showing their stuff or not. I’m still thinking, even after posting that lap time, that there are some other cars that really haven’t shown what they can do. This track is tough – a lot of drivers are fighting with a push – and I think our BMW here is a car that can handle the push better than other cars. We’re working on trying to make this a great car, and I think we have a better car than some others out there.”

Ian Baas and Josh Hurley were second in the No. 171 APR/Gunther VW Volkswagen GTI with a time of 1:42.798 (80.546 mph), while third were Tom Long and Derek Whitis in the No. 145 Freedom Autosport Mazda Mazda MX-5 at 1:42.846 (80.509 mph). APR Motorsport is based in Auburn, Ala., about two hours from the 2.3-mile, 16-turn track.

Point leader Christian Miller and his co-driver Randy Pobst were sixth in the No. 74 034 Motorsport/Skunk2 Honda Civic Si.

Qualifying for the KONI Sports Car Challenge begins at 11:35 a.m. CT for the ST class, followed by GS qualifying at 11:50 a.m. CT. The two-and-a-half hour ST race begins at 2:50 p.m. CT Saturday, with the two-and-a-half hour GS race at 8:20 a.m. CT Sunday.

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