Donohue, Law Shoot for First Rolex Series Victory This Season Thursday at Daytona
Brumos team, formerly based in Jacksonville, Fla., last visited victory lane in Rolex Series in 2003
David Donohue and Darren Law have been one of the hottest combinations in the Daytona Prototype paddock in the No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley. Now, they are looking to break through with a victory in their sponsor’s home race, the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway, Round 9 of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16. The two-and-a-half hour race (or 70 laps/250 miles) takes the green flag at 8:12 p.m. Thursday (SPEED, Live at 8 p.m.), with practice and qualifying earlier in the day.
Over the past three races, Brumos Racing has been knocking on the door. Donohue and Law followed up a fifth-place finish at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with runner-up showings at Watkins Glen International and Mid-Ohio. Donohue is the only driver in the Rolex Series with multiple pole positions in 2008. His Mid-Ohio pole was his third of this season.
“Winning the Brumos Porsche 250 would be a fitting place to bring home our first victory in many years,” said Donohue, who has three Daytona Prototype victories but none since the 2003 Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. “It’s been a lot of effort from a lot of people, and I know Bob (former team owner Bob Snodgrass) is looking down, very proud of us. Standing on the top step in Gatorade Victory Lane would be a big feather in our cap. It’s something we’re all pushing hard for. That second step is completely unsatisfying for everybody on the team, because we’ve all put forth a winning effort already. We’re not going to luck into a win. When we win, it will be overdue and deserved. Our guys at Brumos Racing are tenacious; they’ve never let up.”
Law took the checkered flag at Mid-Ohio behind the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley of Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, giving that team its first victory of 2008 after struggling since finishing second in the Rolex 24. Last year, Gurney and Fogarty scored their third consecutive victory of the campaign in the Brumos Porsche 250, beginning a surge that would lead the duo to the Daytona Prototype championship.
Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas won here in January, when Juan Pablo Montoya and Dario Franchitti joined the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley team in winning the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona. The pair has won three additional races since then – at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Virginia International Raceway and Watkins Glen International – in addition to second- and third-place finishes. Their only stumble was an eighth-place finish at Mid-Ohio, however, Pruett and Rojas currently maintain a healthy 37-point lead over Gurney and Fogarty in the standings.
SunTrust Racing returns to Daytona once again sporting the Dallara chassis. The team opened the season with a fifth-place finish in the Rolex 24 before switching to the Dallara for the Homestead-Miami Speedway event. In May, the new car – along with all of the team’s spares and equipment – were destroyed when the team’s transporter caught fire in Texas while returning from Laguna Seca. The team was assisted by many members of the Grand-Am community, and returned to the Riley at Watkins Glen, where Max Angelelli put the No. 10 Pontiac on the pole. Co-driver Michael Valiante joined in finishing third.
The only other winners in 2008 are Riley-Matthews Motorsports, with Jim Matthews and Marc Goossens taking the checkered flag in Mexico City for the first of three straight podiums in the No. 91 Bob Stallings/Riley-Matthews Motorsports Pontiac Riley; and 2007 Rolex 24 runners-up SAMAX, with Ryan Dalziel and Henri Zogaib giving the Florida team its first victory at Laguna Seca in the No. 2 BMW Riley.
A number of other teams are still looking for their first triumphs of 2008, including the two-car Ford Riley effort of Michael Shank Racing and Rolex 24 pole winner Oswaldo Negri Jr.; Krohn Racing’s two Pontiac Lolas; AIM Autosport’s No. 61 Ford Riley; Cheever Racing’s Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Pontiac Coyote; Doran Racing’s two Ford Dallaras; Alex Job Racing with the No. 23 Porsche and the updated Crawford classis; and the No. 7 Rum Bum Racing BMW Riley of Gene Sigal and Matt Plumb, who led a race-high 31 laps before finishing third at Mid-Ohio. Beyer Racing will race for the second time in the series, with Jared Beyer and Jordan Taylor sharing the No. 19 Ford Crawford.
“There are a lot of sleeper teams who are always a threat,” Donohue said. “They’re right there at race time. That’s the nature of this series. It’s ultracompetitive, which is probably unprecedented in road racing for as long as I can remember.”
SpeedSource Shooting for Three Straight GT Victories at Daytona
SpeedSource returns to Daytona looking for its third consecutive victory at “The World Center of Racing.” Sylvain Tremblay and Nick Ham won the 2007 Brumos Porsche 250 from the pole in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazdaspeed/Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8, and joined David Haskell and Raphael Matos in winning the 2008 season-opening Rolex 24. Tremblay and Ham are tied in third with 208 points in the GT standings.
“Daytona is probably the single-best track for our car because the engine is small,” Ham said. “Once you get our rotary wound up it goes like a rocket on the banking. Daytona was really good for us. We also won the summer race there last year and so we’re going for our third win at Daytona. We feel very confident.”
Tremblay and Ham’s main challenges are expected to come from point leaders Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards in the No. 07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R (239 points), winners of three races in 2008, and the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports GXP.R driven by Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell (207 points), who have won two races so far this season.
Porsche is coming off its first victory of 2008 with the No. 86 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3 driven by Eric Lux and Leh Keen, who will be part of a two-car lineup. Farnbacher Loles also entered the No. 87 driven by Bryce Miller and Dirk Werner. Team owner Kevin Buckler, the 2003 overall winner of the Rolex 24, has entered four Porsche GT3s under the TRG umbrella, including the No. 66 of Andy Lally and Ted Ballou and the No. 67 of Tim George Jr. and Spencer Pumpelly.
There have been a number of changes made the GT Paddock since Mid-Ohio. Terry Borcheller, the 2003 Daytona Prototype champion, will join Tim Lewis Jr. in the No. 72 Autohaus Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R after the recent departure of Lawson Aschenbach. In addition, frequent NASCAR competitor Boris Said will be driving the No. 34 Orbit Racing Porsche GT3. Said has seven Rolex Series victories, including six in the GT class.
Ryan Phinny led a GT race-high 30 laps at Mid-Ohio, and he and co-driver Diego Alessi are looking for their second straight podium after finishing third in the No. 21 Matt Connolly Motorsports Pontiac GTO.R. JLowe Racing, which formerly raced with TRG, will run the No. 63 Porsche GT3 supported by Farnbacher Loles Racing. Co-drivers Jim Lowe and Jim Pace, the 1996 Rolex 24 overall winner, will continue to share the wheel. Stevenson Motorsports is adding a car to its line up this week with the No. 97 Corvette driven by Jeff Bucknum, James Gue and John Stevenson.
- This is Round 9 for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16. The combined Daytona Prototype/GT race is two hours and 30 minutes or 250 miles (70 laps), whichever comes first.
- The green flag for the race is scheduled to fly shortly after 8 p.m. ET. The race will air live on SPEED, beginning at 8 p.m. (Leigh Diffey – Play-by-Play; Dorsey Schroeder, Calvin Fish – Analysts; Brian Till, Chris Neville – Pit Reporters).
- All cars must make a mandatory pit stop prior to the 45-minute mark in the race, and each driver must complete 30 minutes of the race in order to earn points for their respective standings.
- 2007 Brumos Racing 250 race winners are Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty (Daytona Prototypes), and Sylvain Tremblay and Nick Ham (GT).
ROLEX SERIES WEEKEND SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES EASTERN)
- Thursday: Rolex Series Practice (10-10:45 a.m.); Rolex Series Practice (11 a.m.-Noon); Rolex Series Practice (12:15-12:35 p.m.); Rolex Series Trueman/Akin Award Practice (12:35-12:55 p.m.); Rolex Series GT Qualifying (1:15-1:30 p.m.); Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Qualifying (1:45-2 p.m.); Brumos Porsche 250 (8:12 p.m.; 250 miles/70 laps/two-and-a-half hour race).
2008 IN REVIEW
Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas hold a 37-point advantage in the Daytona Prototype point standings after four victories and second and third-place finishes in their first seven starts. They won the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami, the Bosch Engineering 250 at VIR and the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley. Marc Goossens and Jim Matthews won the Mexico City 250 in the No. 91 Bob Stallings/Riley-Matthews Motorsports Pontiac Riley, while Ryan Dalziel and Henri Zogaib earned their initial Daytona Prototype victories in the No. 2 SAMAX BMW Riley at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Defending series champs Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty won the rain-soaked EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley.
Consistency and seven top 10s – including three class victories this season – have No. 07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R co-drivers Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards atop the GT point standings, 31 points over their closest competitors, Rolex 24 At Daytona winners and No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 co-drivers Sylvain Tremblay and Nick Ham. However, No. 67 TRG Porsche GT3 pilots Spencer Pumpelly and Tim George Jr. led the series standings earlier this season and have four podium finishes, including three second-place results. No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R co-drivers Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis also won two straight races this season and No. 69 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 drivers Jeff Segal, Emil Assentato and Nick Longhi won the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. Eric Lux and Leh Keen drove the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3 to the victory at Mid-Ohio.
NEWS & NOTES
- Home Track Race for Florida Drivers: Daytona isn’t only the home to the Grand-Am office. Several drivers call the area home. Included in the Daytona Prototypes are Ryan Dalziel (Orlando), Henri Zogaib (Orlando), Shane Lewis (Jupiter), John Pew (North Palm Beach), Guy Cosmo (West Palm Beach), Jordan and Ricky Taylor (Apopka), JC France (Daytona Beach), Oswaldo Negri (Miami) and Jim Matthews (Boca Raton). In GT, Floridian drivers are Mac McGehee (Jacksonville), Joe Jacalone (St. Augustine), Michael Riolo (Boca Raton), Jeff Segal (Miami), Sylvain Tremblay (Sunrise), Tim Lewis Jr. (Boca Raton), Terry Borcheller (Vero Beach), Joseph Safina (Fort Lauderdale) and Eric Lux (Jacksonville).
- Home Race for Teams Too: Several Rolex Series teams are also based out of Florida. In Daytona Prototypes, SAMAX is from Pompano Beach, Spirit of Daytona Racing is in Daytona Beach and Alex Job Racing is in Tavares. Brumos Racing formerly calls Jacksonville home. GT teams based in Florida include Blackforest Motorsports and Racers Edge Motorsports in Deland, SpeedSource in Sunrise, Autohaus Motorsports in Delray Beach and GTS Racing with Mitchum Motorsports in Fort Lauderdale.
- Said Joins Orbit Racing: Orbit Racing will compete in the Brumos Porsche 250 with one of the top road racers in the country. Veteran Boris Said will drive the No. 33 Porsche GT3 with car owner Larry Bowman, while Lance Willsey and Mike Riolo will share the team’s No. 34 Porsche GT3. "We feel that Daytona is our home track," says Rodger Hawley, team principal of Orbit. "History shows that Daytona has been very kind to our Orbit team." Said is a longtime friend of Bowman.
- Borcheller Replaces Aschenbach at Autohaus Motorsports: Veteran driver Terry Borcheller will compete for Autohaus Motorsports for the remainder of the 2008 Rolex Series season, the team said last week. Borcheller replaces Lawson Aschenbach, who left the team last week. Borcheller joined Aschenbach and Tim Lewis Jr. in the No. 72 Pontiac GXP.R at Mid-Ohio before the deal became fulltime. Borcheller is the 2003 Daytona Prototype champion and has competed with various Rolex Series Daytona Prototype and GT teams over the last two seasons.
- Taylor-Made for Daytona Prototypes: The Taylor family involvement in Daytona Prototypes just keeps getting larger. The Apopka-based family will have three of its members competing Thursday, and two of those driving. Ricky Taylor competed for and co-drove with his father Wayne in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, finishing fifth. This weekend, Ricky Taylor will co-drive the No. 47 Ford Dallara with Burt Frisselle in the Brumos Porsche 250. Ricky Taylor finished seventh in that car in the recent race at Mid-Ohio. Meanwhile, the No. 19 Beyer Racing Ford Crawford will see 17-year-old Jordan Taylor drive with 18-year-old Jared Beyer. “I never expected this to happen so fast,” said Wayne Taylor, owner of SunTrust Racing and father of the two drivers. “It’s great they both have the opportunities. It’s going to be hard for me this weekend, with me owning my own team and my sons driving for two other teams.”
- Starting up Front Has its Privileges in GT: Starting up front is the key to success, at least for drivers in the Rolex Series GT class. Sylvain Tremblay, Kelly Collins, Andrew Davis, Jeff Segal and Eric Lux have all started in the front two rows in their co-victories in 2008. Meanwhile, the Daytona Prototypes have been on the opposite end. The best start any driver has won from was second at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Other starts have been third (Pruett and Rojas), sixth (Pruett, Rojas, Juan Pablo Montoya and Dario Franchitti), 15th (Marc Goossens and Jim Matthews), 16th (Pruett and Rojas) and 17th (Pruett and Rojas after failing post-qualifying tech inspection; Ryan Dalziel and Henri Zogaib).
ROLEX SERIES POINT STANDINGS
- Daytona Prototype: 1. (tie) Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, (225); 3. Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty (188); 5. (tie) Marc Goossens, Jim Matthews (186); 7. (tie) Mark Patterson, Oswaldo Negri (171); 9. (tie) Nic Jonsson, Ricardo Zonta (158).
- GT: 1. (tie) Kelly Collins, Paul Edwards (239); 3. (tie) Sylvain Tremblay, Nick Ham (208); 5. (tie) Andrew Davis, Robin Liddell (207); 7. (tie) Tim George Jr., Emil Assentato (188); 9. (tie) Tim Lewis Jr., Lawson Aschenbach (182).
- MESCO Building for the Future Rookie of the Year: 1. Tim George Jr. (188); 2. Lawson Aschenbach (182); 3. (tie) Jeff Segal, Ted Ballou (177), 5. Ricardo Zonta (158).
- Pruett, Ganassi Continue Winning Record: Scott Pruett and Chip Ganassi continue to set records for overall wins in the Rolex Series. Pruett notched his 18th overall win in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, now five more than second-place James Weaver. In turn, Ganassi earned his 19th win – all in Daytona Prototypes – eight more than the SunTrust Racing team. Pruett has also finished in the top 10 in 25 consecutive Rolex Series Daytona Prototype races.
- Pontiac Owns Class Win Record: With seven class victories this season, Pontiac has passed Porsche for all-time class wins. Pontiac owns 51 class wins, while Porsche, which won for the first time in 2008 in the GT class at Mid-Ohio, has 50.
SELECTED PRE-RACE DRIVER QUOTES
Kelly Collins (No. 07 Banner Racing Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R): “I hope that some of the things we were working on at the test at Mid-Ohio last week can carry over to Daytona this week. One thing that we cannot fix is the added weight and balance. Daytona is really the worst track for the way the GXP.R is weighted down right now. Coming out of the Bus Stop turn we will just be a moving chicane going around into Turn 1. Once we hit the infield we will be strong again, until we get to NASCAR Turn 1 again. We just need to run clean and come out with as many points as possible.”
Michael Valiante (No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Dallara): “I'm really looking forward to Daytona now that we have another Dallara and we've had back-to-back races where, as a team, we've gotten some pretty good rhythm going. We're gradually building our inventory back up again, which will make us better and better as we go along – things like shocks and springs and spare components. The new car should be good. They've beefed up some things to make it stronger for the longer duration events. Otherwise, there's not much that can be done because once the car is approved, you have to stick to the guidelines that were set. Probably the main thing to go off of is how the other two Dallaras in the series (the Nos. 77 and 47) have been doing. They've been getting quicker and quicker each race, so that's very encouraging. I think, overall, we'll be solid at Daytona. The Dallara hasn't been the quickest out there in terms of straight-line speed, so it will be a challenge on the long straights. But I do feel we'll be very strong in the infield road course segments.”
Darren Law (No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley): “This race is very important for all of us, especially since, number one, we’ve been running up front, and the car’s consistently been one of the fastest on track. But mainly, it is important because this is the Brumos Porsche 250, and so many of the dealership’s customers and employees will be there cheering us on. Needless to say, we are really hoping to finally put it in the top spot this time.”
Mark Patterson (No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley): “The first few laps on these Pirellis are like a gift. Obviously, Oswaldo put them to excellent use in qualifying for the Rolex 24 pole and it will be up to me to get the best possible qualifying run that I can on Thursday. Talk about pressure, and I don’t mean tire pressure! The conditions will be very different for the Brumos Porsche 250, not just from what we experienced in January at the Rolex 24, but also between our qualifying session in the heat of the day to the race under the lights. But no matter what the temperatures or potential rainstorms are like, we know the Pirellis will give us excellent grip throughout.”
Tim Lewis Jr. (No. 72 Autohaus Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R): “The 2008 season has been an intensive learning experience for the Autohaus motorsports team. Daytona was the first endurance race for the team, so a lot of things were new to us. All the race miles since the Rolex 24 have really helped our engineer, Nathan McBride, get his head around the car and learn to tune it for speed and tire longevity. Nathan and I also are starting to really understand what we want from each other in car feedback and chassis setup. With the new rule updates since Lime Rock, getting the most out of our car is quite difficult.”
Alex Gurney (No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley): “We're on a bit of a high after last week's win. I think we finally got our mojo back. We were definitely in position to win several times this year and it’s a big relief that it finally all came together. With half the season still to run, we feel like the championship is definitely still there for the taking.”
“Last year, we had a very good car at Daytona for the short race. We ran a very low downforce setup that still had a great balance. Jon got a very strange penalty call but came back through the field beautifully. I had some tense moments for a few laps with Angelelli right when I got in the car but after that we built up a good gap and just pushed hard to the end. The difference this year to last is that it seems a lot of teams and drivers have stepped up their game in a big way. We'd like to win the rest of the races, and Daytona will be a big challenge on that front, but the GAINSCO team is up to it.”