Ernie Francis Jr. played the waiting game and his patience paid off. The 21-year-old driver of the Frameless Shower Doors Mustang claimed the pole with a time of 1:24.927 on Friday as Trans Am returned to WeatherTech Laguna Seca after a 15 year absence.
"The car had pace from the beginning of the day," he says.
Francis' confidence gave him the opportunity to sit while other cars took early laps in the 40 minute session. When the field pitted, he fired up and turned in times on a clear track.
It is Francis' first pole of the young season. In the series' two previous races, at Sebring and Road Atlanta, Lawrence Loshak clocked the fastest time. On Friday, however, he ran into traffic just as the tires were peaking.
"The money lap is on the third lap," he explains. "That's when we caught the SGT and GT cars."
Two cars in slower classes slowed his key lap. Still, the driver of the Pennzoil Camaro was just eight-tenths off Francis' pace when he got back up to speed.
"He won the battle," Loshak says. "Tomorrow I need to try to win the war."
The green flag drops on Saturday at 12:50. The TA, SGT and GT cars compete in a 70 minute sprint race.
Chris Dyson in the Plaid Mustang starts third, followed by Tomi Drissi's Axalta Camaro and David Pintaric and his Kryderacing Cadillac.
Two-time series champion Amy Ruman flirted with a top five, but fell to seventh on the grid. Still, she was happy with the qualifying session. The veteran driver had limited practice due to an ignition problem with her McNichols Corvette in the morning.
"I was at least pleased the car was working," she observes. "We'll definitely be competitive."
Of course, the driver most pleased is sitting on the pole.
"The car had more in it," Francis reports.