Erich Joiner puts Porsche on overall pole at Utah Motorsports Campus as Rydquist and Lux also set track records
TOOELE, UTAH (9 October 2021)- Following a morning of high winds, rain and cold temperatures, Mother Nature pulled through for the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli West Coast Championship drivers Saturday afternoon at Utah Motorsports Campus, delivering perfect qualifying conditions which resulted in three drivers setting new class track records.
For the first time in his Trans Am career, Erich Joiner drove the No.10 Good Boy Bob Coffee Roaster Porsche 991 GT3 R to an overall pole position for Sunday’s 100-mile sprint. Putting together a 1:52.515-second lap on the on the 3.048-mile Outer Loop course, Joiner set a new track record for the XGT class and earned his first Motul Pole Award.
It’s only the second time in Trans Am history to see an XGT car lead the field. In 2020, Simon Gregg opened the Trans Am West Coast season with a pole-winning drive in his XGT class Mercedes AMG GT3 at Thunderhill Raceway.
“Running with all these V8s with all the torque and horsepower is a challenge, but it has made me a better driver,” said Joiner. “Utah is a great track. I’ve raced here many times, we have a home here in Park City, so it’s like a second home track for us.
“Our production-based cars do have driver’s aids,” continued Joiner. “But, this afternoon was dry and beautiful, so the driver aids really didn’t come into play. I think it was a lot of deep braking and cornering that helped with the quick times today. I saw that the faster TA2 cars can pull me down this long straight, but they can also gap me if they can get out of the first turn well, so that is something that we will need to be aware of tomorrow.”
Though Joiner outpaced the field by a full three seconds, the top three TA2 times were separated by only 0.822-seconds. TA2 West Coast points leader Carl Rydquist only turned three laps in the No. 45 Racecars4Rent/GroupWholesale Ford Mustang during qualifying, but set a new track class record of 1:55.075-seconds along the way. Finishing second overall, Rydquist will share the front row with Joiner.
“Our strategy today was to run minimal laps in qualifying to keep as much life in the tires for the race,” Rydquist explained. “I am super excited that we set the new track record today for the TA2 class. It’s a great accomplishment for the team. This has been such a team effort coming back from mechanical issues in Portland. We were changing sensors as late as an hour before qualifying just trying to get the car to run the right way. I wish I had the inside line tomorrow, but the XGT cars are so incredibly fast here, and Erich (Joiner) put together a super great lap. I think he will be so fast off the start that I will be able to take whatever line I want by Turn 1.”
Ken Sutherland was on pace to catch Rydquist in the final minutes of qualifying but looped it on his flyer. Sutherland will lead the second row in the No. 48 Cascade Sotheby’s Chevrolet Camaro with a fast time of 1:56.109-seconds.
“We gave it all we had today,” said Sutherland. “We knew we were a little bit behind Carl (Rydquist) from what we were seeing in practice, so we knew that qualifying would be a stretch. We tried to go out one more time to see if we could get a bit quicker, but I spun the car, so we got what we got.”
Recovering from an incident in the last round at Portland, Kent Stacy (No.26 RF Racing / S3 / TTA Chevrolet Camaro) finished third in the TA2 class, fourth overall, setting his quickest time of 1:56.474-seconds on his very first lap. Brad McAllister (1:57.631-seconds) rounded out the overall top five in the No. 24 www.
With a decade of driving experience at Utah, Cindi Lux also set a new track record in the SGT class with a 1:58.586-second fast lap. Finishing 10th overall in the No. 5 Lux Performance/Black Coffee Dodge Viper, Lux will have four TA2 drivers starting behind her. Lux’s teammate, Dirk Leuenberger will start 15th overall in the No. 35 Lux Performance Group Dodge Viper with SGT West Coast points leader John Schweitzer in the No. 00 Superior Builders Inc Ford Fusion finishing third in class, 16th overall.
“Track knowledge definitely helped set the new track record today,” Lux said. “It was so cold and wet this morning we didn’t go out. It will be a fun race tomorrow. The times that we qualified today I can pretty much run the entire race tomorrow. I am so grateful for such a great handling car, the boys certainly made my job very easy today.”
The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli West Coast Championship drivers will take the green on Sunday at 10:50 a.m. Mountain Time for a 100-mile sprint (33 laps or 75 minutes whichever comes first). Live Timing and Scoring is available at www.gotransam.com/