Posted (09/27/2008) -
MILLVILLE, N.J. - Robert Huffmaster, of Clarkston, Mich., scored his first SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup pole at the brand-new Thunderbolt Raceway in preparation for Sunday's Round Seven race. His teammate, Eric Foss, of Fort Worth, Texas, will start alongside him in second.
Fresh off a runner-up finish in Round Six at Miller Motorsports Park, Huffmaster's momentum carried across the country to New Jersey Motorsports Park where he scored his very first MX-5 Cup pole.
"The first five races, I really struggled in qualifying, my best was fifth, but at
Miller I turned it around and qualified second," Huffmaster said. "Now if feels great to have my first pole."
Circulating the wet, but drying 14-turn, 2.25-mile road course, Huffmaster's time in the No. 27 Team MER/Huffmaster Co. MX-5 continued to improve, until reaching a pole time of 1:32.001 (84.912 mph) on his sixth lap.
"Early on it was a little damp, but it had a good dry line and the track was fast.
"The reason I'm on the pole is because of [teammates] Ryan [Schimsk] and Eric helping me out. They gave me a little bit of a tow. I think we're all going to be right there and it'll be a great race. I'm sure me, Eric and Ryan will all talk before the race about keeping it clean and hopefully we'll walk away with a Team MER one-two-three."
Current MX-5 Cup point leader Foss will start second in the No. 28 Team MER/Autobarn Mazda MX-5. Foss turned his quickest lap, a 1:32.134 (84.789 mph), late in the 25-minute session, which ended early to remove the No. 19 Shopzilla/Hooverspeed MX-5 of Robert Michaelian, who was stranded in Turn Seven.
Schimsk, of Austin, Texas, made it an Team MER one-two-three at the front of the grid, placing his No. 81 Team MER/Airco Mechanical MX-5 in the third spot. Schimsk entered a qualifying time of 1:32.320 (84.618 mph).
Ara Malkhassian, of Sonoma, Calif., could be in for his third podium finish in-a-row, starting just outside the top three. Driving the No. 11 Alara Racing MX-5, Malkhassian turned a 1:32.438 (84.510 mph).
Winner of last weekend's event at Miller Motorsports Park, Brad Rampelberg, of San Jose, Calif., turned a 1:32.456 (84.494 mph) and will start fifth in the No. 14 Hooverspeed/Mazda/Patron Tequila MX-5.
Todd Buras, who sits third in the MX-5 Cup Championship will start sixth. Mike Jenkins, Michaelian, Mark Jenkins and Randy Hale III complete the top 10 on the grid.