Winchester Tops World Challenge Qualifying

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AUSTIN, Texas – Ryan Winchester scored his second career Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car Pole and led a pair of teammates to the top of the time sheets on Friday at Circuit of The Americas.

Fifteen-year-old Ernie Francis Jr. scored his first career Touring Car B pole in the same session to set the grid for Saturday’s Round 1 Pirelli World Challenge Cadillac Sports Car Challenge TC/TCB race.

Winchester posted his pole time of 1:46.382 (77.832 mph) on the 2.3-mile National Course at COTA, just 0.023-seconds faster than Compass360 Racing teammate Remo Ruscitti. Winchester’s No. 72 Ultimate Racing/HPD Honda Civic Si and Ruscitti’s No. 71 Ultimate Racing/HPD Honda Civic Si will share the front row for Saturday’s race after Ruscitti laid down an official time of 1:46.405 (77.815 mph).

“Qualifying got off to a good start,” Winchester said. “The order was based off the highest returning driver in the (2012 season) points, so I got to go out first. I got my two clean laps and ended up putting the fastest time of the session down. I get to start out front, which is going to be huge this weekend.

“For the races I expect it to be a hard-fought battle between the three (Compass 360) team cars. The Volkswagen’s have shown to be fast, but we’ll see what happens in the race. We’re looking for a one-two-three finish and that’s what we’re expecting to get.”

Brett Sandberg, driving the No. 70 Ultimate Racing/HPD Honda Civic Si, snuck into the top three late in the 30-minute session with a time of 1:46.916 (77.444 mph) on his seventh lap. Sandberg’s lap completed the qualifying sweep for Compass360 Racing.