ALTON, Va. – Veteran Boris Said bested young gun Ernie Francis Jr. to earn the pole during Friday’s Trans-Am Series presented by Pirelli qualifying at rainy Virginia Int’l Raceway.
The pair traded the top spot five times before Said locked down the pole for Saturday’s 100-mile event.
Mike Skeen was quickest in TA2 Powered by AEM qualifying.
After a pair of races on Saturday, all five classes will race together on Sunday. The grids for the combined event will be set by fastest laps for each competitor in Saturday’s races.
Kerry Hitt held the pole for the opening minutes during the TA session in the No. 19 Advanced Composite Products Cadillac CTS-V before Said went to the top. Francis took over the lead at the midway point, and the two drivers began trading fast laps. Said prevailed in the brand-new No. 2 Weaver Racing/Techniques/SRI Performance Dodge Challenger, beating his own best with a final-lap time of 2:11.125-seconds. Said won the second Trans-Am race at VIR in 2002, and came back in 2019 to win last year’s event for Weaver Racing.
“It was a blast,” according to Said. “The track was slick and tricky. It was fun. Every lap, I’d get a little more confidence, and I kept pushing it, pushing it, pushing it.”
Said had no idea of who was fast in the session.
“I didn’t even have my radio on,” said the veteran. “I was just having fun. I had no idea about the pole until I got back to the truck, honestly. The new car just needs a few more laps. It feels real good. It’s an evolution. This is the third car I’ve driven for Pancho [Weaver], and they get better and better every time. I hope it’s dry tomorrow, but it was fun today.”
Francis settled for second, .668 seconds back with a lap of 2:121.793 in the No. 98 One South Florida Wealth Advisors Ford Mustang. The 22-year-old six-time champion and current point leader was happy with second.
“Qualifying went very well for us today,” Francis said. “We got some practice time yesterday during our test sessions but didn’t run much today before qualifying. We didn’t want to risk the car in the wet on a doubleheader weekend. The car felt great and the rain setup we chose is one that has proven to be successful. Starting second should set us up well for the race tomorrow. I need to run a consistent race to get some good points to go into Sunday’s race.”
Chris Dyson will start third with a lap of 2:12.076 in the No. 20 Plaid Ford Mustang, followed by Simon Gregg in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Camaro, and current championship runner-up Tomy Drissi in the No. 8 Lucas Oil Camaro.
Amy Ruman had contact with the guardrail in turn six in the No. 23 McNichels Company Corvette, and Gregg went off and hit a barrier in turn 14 late in the session. Both cars were driven back to the pits.
Skeen captured the TA2 pole on his final lap, running 2:09.608 in the No. 77 LiquiMoly/Turn 14 Ford Mustang, edging out the No. 7 Silver Hare Racing Chevrolet Camaro of Rafa Matos by .127-seconds.
“We had very wet conditions so we knew visibility would be tough,” said Skeen, the TA2 points leader with three victories. “Getting space would be tricky because the spray lasts for a long time, which requires a larger gap than usual. As the session went on, the conditions improved with the fastest times coming at the end. We were battling the entire time and am very happy to come out with the pole today. The Stevens-Miller Racing guys put the LiquiMoly Mustang together great. They have worked through a few gremlins and gave me a car that I am happy we were able to put on the front row.”
Matos was looking for his second pole of the 2020 campaign, turning a best lap of 2:09.735, but an electrical failure within the motor sent his Camaro into the pits prematurely. The drying track allowed Skeen to eclipse Matos in the final moments of the session.
Cameron Lawrence was third at 2:10.542 in the No. 8 3-Dimensional Camaro, followed by Tyler Kicera at 2:21.871 in the No. 4 Carbotech Brakes Mustang.
Other pole winners were Ken Twaits in the XtremeGT Lee Saunders, SuperGT; and Ken Harrell, GT.