Wilson, Carbonell Earn First Career ..

Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Pole Positions Saturday at New Jersey

Wilson, Carbonell Earn First Career Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Pole Positions Saturday at New Jersey

First-time polesitters lead their respective classes to Sunday’s green flag at 8:53 a.m.

Kris Wilson and Andrew Carbonell won their first career Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series pole positions Saturday morning at New Jersey Motorsports Park and will lead their respective Grand Sport (GS) and Street Tuner (ST) classes to the green flag of the 250-mile (112-lap) or two-and-a-half hour race, which begins at 8:53 a.m. Sunday.

Wilson, driving the No. 25 C-MAX/Unitech Racing Porsche 997, set a time of 1:27.250 (92.837 mph) on the 2.25-mile, 12-turn track. Wilson and co-driver and team owner Dave Riddle are looking for their first KONI Challenge victory since July 2007 at Watkins Glen International.

Wilson will share the front row with Todd Lamb, who returns to the No. 80 Kinetic Motorsports BMW M3 this weekend with the team after missing the last three races. Lamb's time was just eight thousandths of a second behind Wilson's, as he posted a time of 1:27.258 (92.828 mph). Wilson is sharing the No. 80 with Andy Lally, who helped Kinetic earn its first career KONI Challenge race Aug. 17 at Le Circuit de Trois-Rivieres.

Lamb's teammate Nic Jonsson was third (1:27.536; 92.533 mph) in the No. 79 Kinetic Motorsports BMW M3 he shares with Kevin Molloy, who is making his initial KONI Challenge race. Two-time 2008 race winner Joe Foster was fourth (1:27.587; 92.479 mph) in the No. 55 Hyper Sport Ford Mustang GT he shares with Scott Maxwell, while Don Salama - who celebrated his 48th birthday Thursday - was fifth (1:27.607; 92.458 mph) in the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 he shares with Bryan Ortiz.

Neither of the top four drivers in the standings were able to qualify in the top 10. Bret Seafuse, driving the No. 37 JBS Motorsports Trumansburg Shursave Ford Mustang GT with James Gue, was 11th (1:28.212; 91.824 mph) on the charts, while defending series champion Jep Thornton, in the No. 09 Automatic Racing Imported Car Store/Land Air BMW M3 with co-driver Jeff Segal, was 16th (1:28.898; 91.116 mph). The two leading driving pairs are separated by only 10 points (190-180).

In ST, Carbonell tore off a lap of 1:29.459 (90.544 mph) to best Lawson Aschenbach in the No. 01 Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt. Carbonell, substituting for Rhett O'Doski in the No. 146 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5, will drive this weekend with Tom Long. Freedom Autosport has earned several podiums and front row starts this season but the team is still looking for its first career KONI Challenge victory.

Lawson Aschenbach and co-driver Jamie Holtom will try for their second victory of the season together and points leader Holtom's season-leading fourth Sunday, after Aschenbach (1:30.793; 89.214 mph) inherited second when Ian Baas's time was disallowed when he slowed on the track during his run. Baas, who led KONI Challenge practice Friday, and co-driver Dion von Moltke will look to give APR Motorsport its first-ever victory as well Sunday from the 11th starting position.

Holtom leads Kristian Skavnes by two points (185-183) and Kuno Wittmer by seven points in the standings. Skavnes' co-driver Andrew Aquilante was 13th (1:31.698; 88.333 mph) in the No. 111 ICY/Phoenix Racing Subaru Legacy, while Wittmer's co-driver Peter Cunningham was 18th (1:31.834; 88.203 mph) in the No. 32 i-MOTO Racing Cybernation/Alpinestar Acura TSX.

BJ Zacharias was third (1:31.149; 88.865 mph) in the No. 196 RSR Motorsports Cruise America Inc./4 Winds RV Mini Cooper S he shares with Owen Trinkler. Tony Rivera qualified fourth (1:31.253; 88.764 mph) in the No. 51 Brass Mitchell Racing Hal Joy Renewable Fuels/DriverSource.com Mazda RX-8 he co-pilots Steven Ott, and Christian Miller was fifth (1:31.316; 88.703 mph) in the No. 74 Compass360 Racing Skunk2/Sunday Group Management Acura TSX he shares with Nicholas Rondet.

Sunday's 250-mile (112-lap) or two-and-a-half hour race will start at 8:53 a.m.


Kris Wilson (No. 25 C-MAX/Unitech Racing): "It's a great track except for you guys haven't had any rain around here so the dust clouds become very interesting while running around, knowing if someone is in the dust cloud or not. The C-Max guys and Unitech Racing gave me an awesome car. It was nip and tuck with the Kinetic guys but I guess we got them at the end by eight thousandths of a second so it should be a very entertaining race tomorrow."

Todd Lamb (No. 80 Kinetic Motorsports BMW M3): "It was obviously pretty fantastic. The Kinetic BMW was really good today. I had Andy on the radio just coaching me through the first couple laps just trying to get some space out there so we could get a flyer. We got two really clean laps and backed it off for a bit and got a couple more and pretty much all of them were right there at the same time. We had the pole for a little bit but lost it there at the end but still a very good run for Kinetic."

Andrew Carbonell (No. 146 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5): "For me it's the second one - back to back with Freedom. It's incredible engineering that goes into it. We were there last night after the last session yesterday, thinking about how the session went and what we can do and how we can get the car on the point right away - right in qualifying. I went out and it's a great track for us. The front-wheel drive cars, when I'm behind them they're in my crosshairs. They're just waiting to get the throttle and I'm on throttle ready to get them. It's was just perfect. I caught an Acura. There was a pack of cars and they pulled me through the back and once we got to the last set of corners. I was like okay I can catch them now, so corner after corner I get a little bit and coming out of the last carousel I just got an awesome run. I chased the Acura all the way down the straightaway and popped out right outside. I was like, ‘That has to be it' and I heard my team on the radio saying, ‘You got it, you got it.' It was amazing."

Lawson Aschenbach (No. 01 Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt SS): "We actually had a pretty good lap. We put in some good laps, getting some good space, and really went after it. I don't know where the Mazda came from, as we hadn't seen any of that speed all weekend, but we thought we were going to get a lap of around 1:30.6 or 1:30.7. That's what we ended up with. The team's done great, and the Chevrolet Cobalt SS was fabulous. I just have to thank Georgian Bay Motorsports and GM Racing for giving me a great car, and we'll look forward to a strong run tomorrow."

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