MSR’s Valiante Paces Friday Practice for Porsche 250

July 17, 2009


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 17, 2009) – Michael Valiante “won” another practice session Friday at Barber Motorsports Park, running a lap of 1:20.692 (102.612 mph) to lead the opening day of preparation for Sunday’s Porsche 250 presented by Legacy Credit Union, Round 8 of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.

Valiante has led at least one session at seven of the eight events this season in the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley. He holds the track record, 1:20.251 (102.830 mph), set in qualifying for this event last year when Valiante piloted the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara.

Qualifying begins at 1 p.m. CT Saturday, with the race taking the green flag Sunday at 2 p.m. (SPEED live, 3 p.m. ET).

“We’ve got a pretty good record going in practice, so we just have to get a little luck in some of the races,” Valiante said. “We’ve just had a few issues. We’ve got a podium (second at Virginia International Raceway) and we’re fifth in the points, so we’d definitely like to get a victory before the season ends.”

Valiante finished fourth after the team started last in the most recent event, the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway, after co-driver John Pew crashed in practice. The team managed to complete repairs moments before the start of the race.

Alex Gurney was second fastest in the No. 99 GAINSCO Pontiac Riley, 1:20.860 (102.399 mph), followed by Scott Pruett in the No. 01 TELMEX Lexus Riley, 1:20.933 (102.231 mph).

Pruett and co-driver Memo Rojas are the event’s defending winners, and hold a one-point lead in the championship over SunTrust drivers Brian Frisselle and Max Angelelli (199-198). Gurney and Jon Fogarty are another two points back with 196 points.

Jeff Segal led Acxiom GT practice with a morning lap of 1:27.816 (94.288 mph) in the No. 69 FXDD Mazda RX-8, followed by Paul Edwards in the No. 07 Drinkin’ Mate Pontiac GXP.R, 1:27.984 (94.108 mph).

Two cars sustained major undertray damage after off-track excursions, but both the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley of Mark Patterson and the No. 12 Verizon Wireless Porsche Riley of Romain Dumas are expected to be repaired for Saturday’s final practice at 9:20 a.m. Dumas suffered a bruised left foot and cuts on his ankle but is expected to return to action tomorrow.

The weekend will also include a pair of KONI Sports Car Challenge races. The Street Tuner class will compete in a two-and-a-half hour race at 2:50 p.m. CT Saturday, while the Grand Sport class will race at 8:20 a.m. CT Sunday.

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