ALTON, Va. – Dyson Racing turned the tables on Muscle Milk Pickett Racing in qualifying for Saturday’s Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia Int’l Raceway, capturing the pole position for Round 9 of the 2013 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón season.
Guy Smith ran a lap of one minute, 35.965 seconds (122.670 mph) on the 3.27-mile, 17-turn road course to lead the 15-minute session. He was driving the No. 16 Dyson Racing Mazda/Thetford/Norcold Lola B12/60 he shares with Johnny Mowlem, giving the team its first pole of the season. Klaus Graf, who already clinched the title with Lucas Luhr in the No. 6 Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03c, had a best lap of 1:36.169 (122.410 mph).
“I knew it was going to be pretty close, but that’s what makes it so interesting,” said Smith, who took his eighth career ALMS pole. “Klaus and Lucas are absolutely first-class drivers, and to beat them, you really need to be on your game. It’s great to be on the pole position, but tomorrow’s another day. We’ve got to sit down and plan to see how we can beat them in the race. It’s been a pretty tough year for Dyson Racing, and this will be my last ALMS race, so I want to go out with a good one.”
Graf and Mowlem will take a six-race winning streak into the event, after having a five-race pole streak come to an end in qualifying.
“It was exciting qualifying, even if it’s not the way we wanted it to be,” Graf said. “We couldn’t quite get the performance out of the car that we wanted, but we’ll keep working on it. It’s a long race tomorrow.”
Ryan Briscoe took the P2 pole as Level 5 Motorsports swept the top two positions. Briscoe ran a lap of 1:39.796 (117.961 mph) in the No. 551 Level 5 Motorsports Siemens/Alpina Watches/Ohiya Casino Resort HPD ARX-03b co-driven by Scott Tucker. He was followed by Marino Franchitti, 1:40.307 (117.360 mph) in the No. 552 co-driven by Guy Cosmo and new addition Stefan Johansson.
“For me, this is one of the most exciting tracks to qualify at, because there are really high speeds and you can go quick with the downforce,” Briscoe said. “My job is really simple tomorrow – I get in for Scott (Tucker) and drive it home for the win.”
Dane Cameron led the Prototype Challenge presented by Continental Tire qualifying, winning the pole with a lap of 1:41.854 (115.577 mph) to edge out Tom Kimber-Smith.
“We have a really good car for the race,” Cameron said. “It was nice for us to be quickest during both of today’s (practice) sessions, so it should make for a fun race tomorrow. Hopefully we’ll be able to turn this around into a win.”