Auberlen, Pumpelly Make Up Front Row

 for Sunday’s Six-Hour Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Finale at VIR

GS point leaders Maxwell, Foster qualify sixth; Shane Lewis wins ST pole

 Bill Auberlen earned Turner Motorsport's second straight Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport (GS) pole, in a record-breaking performance, Saturday at Virginia International Raceway, and will lead the 27-car field to the green flag in Sunday's season finale, the Bosch Engineering Twin Six Hours.

Auberlen, who was quickest overall in Friday's practice session, set a time of 2:03.216 (95.540 mph). It marked the second consecutive pole for Auberlen and co-driver Matthew Alhadeff, who earned the pole for last month's race at Miller Motorsports Park. The pair, co-driving the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3, went on to win the race at Miller and look to defend their victory in the VIR six-hour race, which is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Spencer Pumpelly, who was second in practice Friday, again trailed Auberlen in Saturday's qualifying session. Pumpelly, co-driving the No. 39 TRG Carlsen Porsche/The DigiTrust Group Porsche 997 with Duncan Ende, clocked in at 2:03.664 (95.193 mph). The two are looking for their first KONI Challenge victory together.

Third was Guy Cosmo (2:03.696; 95.168 mph) in the No. 38 BGB Motorsports Porsche 997, followed by Dean Martin (2:03.748; 95.128 mph) in the No. 59 Rehagen Racing Valvoline/ROUSH Performance Products Ford Mustang GT and Hugh Plumb (2:03.843; 95.055 mph) in the No. 60 Rehagen Racing Sunset Hills Vineyard Ford Mustang GT.

The next three drivers are championship contenders. Scott Maxwell turned a time of 2:03.969 (94.959 mph) in the No. 55 Hyper Sport Ford Mustang GT he shares with fellow point co-leader Joe Foster. Defending series champions Jeff Segal and Jep Thornton (2:04.137; 94.830 mph) in the No. 09 Automatic Racing Imported Car Store/Land Air BMW M3, and former champ Craig Stanton (2:04.227; 94.762 mph) was eighth in the No. 83 BGB Motorsports Performance Drink/Weeden Consultants Porsche 997. Stanton, who is co-driving the car with Jon Miller and John Tecce, and Thornton and Segal are nine points (222-213) behind Maxwell and Foster.

James Gue and Bret Seafuse (2:05.084; 94.112 mph), who trail Maxwell and Foster by one point (222-221) in the championship standings, will start from 13th in the No. 37 JBS Motorsports Trumansburg Shur Save Ford Mustang GT.

Shane Lewis returned to KONI Challenge ST action at full strength, winning his first pole position of 2008. Lewis is going for his second straight KONI Challenge victory at VIR, as he and co-driver John Schmitt dominated last year's race. Lewis set a time of 2:10.163 (90.440 mph). Lewis was involved in an accident in August at New Jersey Motorsports Park, and did not compete at Miller Motorsports Park. Lewis is also the defending polesitter at VIR.

Kristian Skavnes (2:10.165; 90.439 mph), who is mathematically still in contention to win the championship, was just two thousandths of a second behind Lewis. Skavnes - co-driving the No. 111 ICY/Phoenix Racing Subaru Legacy with Chuck Hemmingson and Andrew Aquilante - is 29 points (252-223) behind ST point leader Jamie Holtom. Holtom (2:10.595; 90.141 mph) will start seventh in the No. 01 Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt SS he shares with Eric Curran and Lawson Aschenbach. Holtom needs only to finish 25th to win the championship, and therefore become the youngest Grand-Am champion at 21 years, four days.

Third was Matt Pritiko (2:10.290; 90.352 mph) in the No. 53 Predator Auto Sport Auto Tech Chevrolet Cobalt SS, followed by Tom Long (2:10.388; 90.284 mph) in the No. 146 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5 and Randy Pobst (2:10.480; 90.221 mph) in the No. 181 APR Motorsport APR/BBS Volkswagen GTI.

The session was abbreviated when Mike Sweeney, driving the No. 191 APR Motorsport APR/BBS Volkswagen GTI, hit the tire wall in Turn 9. The accident forced a 20-minute cleanup. Sweeney was not seriously injured in the incident; however, the car will not compete in today's race.

Today's six-hour ST race begins at 2 p.m., and tomorrow's six-hour GS race begins at 11 a.m.


Bill Auberlen (No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3): "This has been what the Turner Motorsports car has been doing all weekend. You put new tires on and we've got a pretty reasonable setup, and you can go out and peg a nice lap. But we haven't even worked on that. What we've been working on is getting it to go longer in the run. We've seen people get fast and then fall off right away. We don't want to be one of those guys, so we've changed our setup a lot to accommodate not hurting the tire. We've accomplished both in the same swing. (On his first lap, which stood up for the pole) I caught Spencer (Pumpelly) and on that lap, that was all I could do, get behind his bumper. Then he potentially was going to hurt my next lap, so I backed it up. We then found out that nobody was going faster than that first lap, so we just cruised."

Spencer Pumpelly (No. 39 TRG Porsche 997): "It was a real good job by the TRG guys. We're ready to go. If we can get a little luck tomorrow, we can win this thing."

Joe Foster (No. 55 Hyper Sport Ford Mustang GT): "Everything's fine and going according to plan. Scott (Maxwell) did a great job in qualifying, so we'll see what happens."

Shane Lewis (No. 22 HART Honda Accord): "I knew I was going to have to get a lap in pretty quickly. There are a lot of cars out in this field and a lot of guys are pushing - and some of them are pushing a little too hard. I got in my best lap as soon as I could, put down a good lap quickly, and thankfully, it held up for the pole. I believe if we went green the whole time there are a few guys who are really, really fast. So I got the job done and did it quickly."

Kristian Skavnes (No. 111 ICY/Phoenix Racing Subaru Legacy): "It went well. I had a nice tow behind the No. 22 HART car, and that helped us out. It was a good, connected lap, in every corner. I'm pretty happy about it. We'll give the car a lot of love before the start. The following six hours will be pretty rough on it."

Jamie Holtom (No. 01 Georgian Bay Motorsports): "I wish that session hadn't gotten black flagged. All we needed was one more lap, and we might have been able to knock Shane off the top spot. Good run anyway for the Georgian Bay Chevrolet Cobalt, and I know we've got a good car for the race ahead of us."

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