Grand-Am KONI Challenge

Salama, Foster Make Up Front Row for Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Race Saturday at Watkins Glen

Povoledo wins Street Tuner class pole for APR Motorsport

Don Salama posted a time of 2:05.281 (97.700 mph) during Friday’s Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series qualifications to score his first Grand Sport (GS) pole position of the season, and will lead a 30-car field to the green flag for Saturday’s The Glen 200 at Watkins Glen International.

Salama earned the pole when Dan DiLeo’s quick time was disallowed for failure to pass post-qualifying tech. It marked the second straight day Salama was fast, as the Boston, Mass., driver was quickest in Thursday’s rain-soaked practice session in the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3, in which he will drive with Bryan Ortiz on Saturday.

Joe Foster, one of several drivers who competed in Thursday’s Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway, was second quickest (2:05.567) in the No. 55 Hyper Sport Ford Mustang GT. Foster, who won at Mosport International Raceway last month, will drive the Mustang with Scott Maxwell.

Series point co-leader Jep Thornton (2:05.725) in the No. 09 Automatic Racing Imported Car Store/Engine Studios BMW M3 will start third, followed by defending Street Tuner (ST) race co-winner Billy Johnson (2:05.738) and Steve Cameron (2:05.762) in the No. 99 Automatic Racing Mobile-Shop/Imported Car Store BMW M3. Thornton is sharing the No. 09 with Jeff Segal, who had a hard hit Thursday at Daytona but posted one of the fastest times in the day’s only practice session.

Overall, 30 GS cars took times, with BMW M3s starting six of the top 10 starting positions.

In ST, Aaron Povoledo – making his first KONI Challenge start of the season this weekend and first with the No. 171 APR Motorsport BBS/Motul Volkswagen GTI team – set a time of 2:11.016 (93.424 mph). It was Povoledo’s first pole since the 2007 ST race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Povoledo will drive the car with Ian Baas.

Starting alongside Povoledo is Derek Whitis, who took the No. 145 Freedom Autosport Mazda/Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5 to a time of 2:11.706 (92.934 mph). Like Povoledo, Whitis is in his first season driving fulltime in the KONI Challenge Series, and is driving for another first-year KONI Challenge operation. Whitis’ teammate is Jim Daniels.

Defending series co-champion Adam Burrows took the No. 74 Compass360 Skunk2/Sunday Group Management Acura TSX to third on the charts (2:11.758), followed by Mark White in the No. 181 Team Janica Racing/APR Motorsport Volkswagen GTI (2:11.970) and Peter Cunningham in the No. 32 i-MOTO Racing Cybernation Broad Band Solutions/Alpinestar Acura TSX.

ST point co-leader Jamie Holtom will start eighth in the No. 01 Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt SS, and will co-drive the car with Eric Curran. Overall, 10 different models made up the top 12 starting positions. Thirty-nine cars took qualifying times.


Don Salama (No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3): “We’ve always done well at Watkins Glen. I’ve won at Watkins Glen a couple of times, and Turner Motorsport builds great cars that always tend to do well here. Guys like Bill Auberlen and others have done well here for Turner Motorsport.”

Joe Foster (No. 55 Hyper Sport Ford Mustang GT): “Watkins Glen is a fantastic track, and I think we did as good as we could in qualifying for a Mustang, which is going to have major braking. The car was good; no complaints on the car. The Hyper Sport and Multimatic guys did a great job putting this car together. This isn’t really a Mustang track, but that’s just a balance of the series. We’re also looking forward to having a little better drive this weekend than in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen in the Rolex Series.”

Aaron Povoledo (No. 171 APR Motorsport BBS/Motul Volkswagen GTI): “I’ve been looking for a ride under a rock for the past couple years. What an honor it is to be called up by APR Motorsport to drive one of their cars. I’ve been around motorsports for over half my life – raced all over Europe and North America and for some very prestigious programs – and this team is every bit of the best of anything I’ve ever seen. They’re so organized and so motivated. I’ve never felt so supported, and I’ve only been working with these guys for two days.”

Derek Whitis (No. 145 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5): “It’s an honor to be here and an honor to start on the front row. This is the first front row start for a first-year team, and really cool on the Fourth of July, since our team is named Freedom Autosport, which is named for the men and women of our country for the last 232 years. So it’s very fitting for us to do so in this race, and really an honor to be here.”

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