LEEDS, Ala.—Qualifying for the Grand Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Barber 200 was a mix of the old and the new.
In the GS class, old faithful at Barber Motorsoprts Park, Joe Foster put the #15 Multimatic Mustang on the pole for the third time—every time he has raced at Barber, he has started from the pole.
Obviously very happy how qualifying went for the Multimatic 302 Boss Mustang,” Foster told Grand Am.com. “We’ve been here with Multimatic I think three times over the past several years in this series and have been on pole all three times, so obviously the guys as Multimatic have a great set-up for a Mustang here.”
Barber has a reputation for being tough on tires; Foster said it was tires that got him the pole.
“Definitely managing the tires and the climate a little bit—it’s kind of hot and humid, so the tires are falling off [losing grip,]”: he explained. “The first lap, which wasn’t too traumatic, was the best on new tires and that’s pretty much how I think it worked out for the top five cars as well.”
Foster turned in a lap of 1:36.906 at 85.443 mph, the only Continental Tire driver to break 1:06.
His nearest rival, Matt Bell in the # 9 Stevenson Automotive Group Chevrolet Camaro GS.R, was .154 seconds and .035 mph slower. Only .173 separated Foster from third-place Al Carter in the #45 Bepositive.Org/HRE Wheels/Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3. Saturday’s race promises to be tight and tough.
The ST class saw a brand new pole winner, as Mark Pombo put the # 31 Mazda/Cybernation Mazdaspeed 3 in the first grid spot with a lap of 1:41.582 at 81.510 mph.
Mark and his brother Mathew had bad luck at Daytona, not being able to run, and led almost all the Kia 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, only to lose on the finish line by .022 seconds. The brothers are back at it, hoping for their first win together.
“My brother and I were a little worried about this track because it seemed like some of the Minis and the Kias really had the pace for all the practice sessions,” Pombo said to Grand Am.com., “but we put new tires on the Mazda 3, the team made some final set-up changes, and they told me to go out there and not make any mistakes—for once I finally did for a whole lap.”
Jeff Mosing in the #56 Coolgas Inc./Frank’s International BMW 328i and Brad Rampelberg in the #27 Mazda/Semperfifund.org Mazdaspeed 3 round out the top three on the ST grid.
The Continental Tire Barber 200 from Barber Motorsports Park starts at 12:30 p.m., Saturday, April 9. It will be followed by the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series Porsche 250 at 4 p.m. and followed Sunday by the IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama.
Tickets for this action-packed racing weekend are still available. Visit the Barber Motorsports Park website for more information.
The Grand Am Rolex Porsche 250 will be broadcast at 12 p.m. on Sunday, April 10, on SPEED. The IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama will air on April 10 at 3 p.m. on Versus. The Barber 200 will air on April 16 at 2 p.m. on Speed (all times Eastern.)