By Steve Wittich
After a disappointing start to the season at the season-opening event in St. Petersburg, Juncos Hollinger Racing sophomore Reece Gold rebounded with his sixth career Indy Pro 2000 pole.
The 17-year-old turned a lap of 77.334 seconds, almost two-tenths of a second quicker than Pabst Racing veteran Colin Kaminsky.
The front four rows were tight, with the top eight within four-tenths-of-second of pole winner Gold.
Gold joins Martin Scuncio and Spencer Pigot as Barber Motorsports Park pole-winners for Juncos Hollinger Racing. It’s the Speedway, Ind.-based team’s 60th Indy Pro 2000 pole.
The first of two Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires qualifying sessions went green at 11:15 am, the skies were cloudless, and the temperature was a comfortable 73F.
With a short session to win the pole, getting the most out of every lap was paramount to starting in the optimal spot on the 2.3-mile, 17-turn natural terrain road course that is notoriously tough to pass on.
During the session, the first driver to have an issue was the No. 6 Jay Howard Driver Development IP-22 of Salvador de Alba in Turn 17.
Not surprisingly, the Juncos Hollinger Racing duo of Reece Gold and Enaam Ahmed, who dominated testing and practice, quickly went to the top of the timing screens.
At the halfway point of the session, the provisional pole sitter was Gold, whose best lap was 77.6029 seconds. Louis Foster (Exclusive Autosport), Ahmed, Josh Green (Turn 3 Motorsport), Braden Eves (Jay Howard Driver Development), Nolan Siegel (Jay Howard Driver Development), Kiko Porto (DEForce Racing), Jonathan Browne (Turn 3 Motorsport), Jack William Miller (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports) and Colin Kaminsky (Pabst Racing).
Soon after, most of the field came to pit road for adjustments and fresh.
The first drivers to improve were Porto and Siegel, but the rest of the timing screen was lighting up with green as times continued to improve.
The final three minutes saw copious changes as Foster, Kaminsky, Ahmed, and finally Gold went to the provisional pole.
Gold grabbed the provisional pole with one minute remaining, just before the Banco Daycoval/Petromega sponsored No. 1 of reigning USF2000 champion ended up in the gravel in the Turn 9 Museum corner.
The track went red and checkered with only 30 seconds left in qualifying.
Andersen Interior Contracting Grand Prix of Alabama unofficial qualifying results
|RANK||CAR. NO.||DRIVER||TEAM||FAST LAP||DIFFERENCE|
|1||55||Reece Gold||Juncos Hollinger Racing||1:17.3343||——|
|2||27||Colin Kaminsky||Pabst Racing||1:17.5000||0.1657|
|3||47||Enaam Ahmed||Juncos Hollinger Racing||1:17.5414||0.2071|
|4||4||Braden Eves||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:17.5540||0.2197|
|5||90||Louis Foster||Exclusive Autosport||1:17.5685||0.2342|
|6||3||Josh Green||Turn 3 Motorsport||1:17.6168||0.2825|
|7||8||Nolan Siegel||DEForce Racing||1:17.6529||0.3186|
|8||1||Kiko Porto||DEForce Racing||1:17.7091||0.3748|
|9||18||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Pabst Racing||1:18.1507||0.8164|
|10||19||Jordan Missig||Pabst Racing||1:18.2008||0.8665|
|11||2||Jonathan Browne||Turn 3 Motorsport||1:18.2040||0.8697|
|12||40||Jack William Miller||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||1:18.2169||0.8826|
|13||6||Salvador De Alba||Jay Howard Driver Develpment||1:18.3757||1.0414|
|14||5||Wyatt Brichacek||Jay Howard Driver Development||1:18.4968||1.1625|
|15||83||Charles Finelli||FatBoy Racing||1:20.8208||3.4865|
That’s it for the middle rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires for the day. The Indy Pro 2000 drivers will take part in an autograph session tomorrow at 11:30 am, and the green for their first of two races is set for 1:30 pm.