in Thursday’s Brumos Porsche 250 to Win Closest-Ever Grand-Am Rolex Series Race
Scores fifth victory of 2008 with last-lap pass in sprint to checkered flag
Scott Pruett beat Alex Gurney in a sprint to the checkered flag to win Thursday's Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway, the closest finish in the history of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.
It was the fifth - and most dramatic - victory of 2008 for Pruett and Memo Rojas in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley. The winners of the 2008 season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, Pruett and Rojas extended their Daytona Prototype championship lead to 40 points after their seventh podium finish of the season.
"That Pruett's the man," Chip Ganassi said. "This track rewards great drivers, and it did that tonight. Winning felt good here in Daytona (when Ganassi won his third consecutive Rolex 24), but it felt even better tonight."
The final margin of victory was .081 seconds, bettering the mark Pruett and Luis Diaz set in 2005 at California Speedway when they edged Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli by .096 seconds.
"I had just enough to get by Alex at the start/finish line," said Pruett, who extended his Rolex Series record to 19 victories. "I've got to give it to Grand-Am for putting on a great show."
Gurney and Fogarty were aiming for their second consecutive triumph in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley. Gurney passed Pruett for the lead with 22 laps remaining, and led through the final 100 yards of the race.
The 70-lap, 250-mile race ended with a one-lap sprint to the finish following the fifth and final caution when Jeff Segal flipped the second-place No. 69 SpeedSource FXDD Mazda RX-8 after an altercation with a Daytona Prototype. Segal's SpeedSource teammates Nick Ham and Sylvain Tremblay went on to win their third consecutive race at Daytona.
Ricardo Zonta and Nic Jonsson matched their best showing of the season by finishing third in the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola. Fourth came down by a side-by-side battle between Brumos Racing teammates, with Joao Barbosa passing and holding off Darren Law. It marked the best finish of the season for the No. 59 Porsche Riley of Barbosa and JC France, while Law and David Donohue recorded the fourth consecutive top-five finish in the No. 58 Porsche Riley.
The No. 61 AIM Autosport Lexus Riley of pole winner Mark Wilkins and Brian Frisselle led 16 laps. Frisselle was running third with 16 laps remaining when the car retired with a broken half-shaft. Ryan Dalziel moved up to third in the closing laps in the No. 2 SAMAX Pontiac Riley started by Henri Zogaib, but also retired with a broken half-shaft with six laps remaining.
SpeedSource's Ham, Tremblay win third straight GT race at Daytona
Tremblay bested Bryce Miller by 1.83 seconds to win the Rolex Series GT portion of the Brumos Porsche 250. Tremblay and Ham - who won the pole earlier Thursday - led 37 laps to score their first victory in the No. 70 SpeedSource Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8 since the Rolex 24 At Daytona, and third consecutive triumph from the pole at Daytona.
Miller passed Robin Liddell at the line for his and co-driver Dirk Werner's best finish of the season in the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3. It marked the sixth podium finish in seven races for Liddell and Andrew Davis in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R.
Paul Edwards and Kelly Collins finished fourth in the No. 07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R. They maintained their lead in the GT championship standings, with Ham and Tremblay 24 points behind and Liddell and Davis 30 points back.
Ross Smith, driving the No. 30 Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda RX-8 started by Craig Stone, was involved in an incident with seven laps remaining when he spun after contact with Dalziel. Smith's car was then struck head-on by the No. 97 Stevenson Motorsports Corvette of Jeff Bucknum, who co-drove with James Gue.
Both Smith and Segal were taken to the infield care center, where they were evaluated and released. Smith bruised his knee in the incident.
Four cautions for 16 laps slowed the race's average speed to 102.690 mph.
The Rolex Series returns to action July 19 for the Porsche 250 Presented By Bradley Arant at Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Ala.
NEWS & NOTES
- The victory is the season-leading fifth Daytona Prototype victory of the season for Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley. This is also the fifth victory for the Lexus Riley.- The victory was Pruett's 19th career Rolex Series victory and Ganassi's 20th as a team owner. Both are Rolex Series records.- Pruett has also won the Rolex Series' second- and third-closest races in history. The previous record was 0.096 seconds, in which Pruett and Luis Diaz beat Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli in the 2005 race at California Speedway.- Pruett and Rojas also won the Rolex 24 At Daytona.- Riley Chassis has won all Daytona Prototype races this season and 18 dating back to last year's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. The manufacturer also took four of the top five positions.- The victory marks the fifth this season for the Lexus power plant.- The second-place finish was Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty's second of the season. The other runner-up finish also came at Daytona.- Ricardo Zonta and Nic Jonsson recorded their best finish of the season in the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola with a third-place result. Their previous best, a fourth-place finish, also came at Daytona in January's Rolex 24 At Daytona.- JC France and Joao Barbosa gave Brumos Racing its third top five of the race with a fourth-place finish in the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley, the duo's best finish of the season.- Darren Law and David Donohue scored their third straight top-five finish in the No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley with a fifth-place finish.- Six drivers in five Daytona Prototypes led laps in the race: Alex Gurney (25), Mark Wilkins (16), Jon Fogarty (12), Scott Pruett (9), Michael Valiante (7), Shane Lewis (1).- Eleven Daytona Prototypes finished all 70 laps of the race.- Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson finished 13th, as the pair encountered trouble with less than 10 laps remaining. Running third, the car suffered a flat tire while making contact with the No. 06 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R.- The No. 2 SAMAX BMW Riley of Ryan Dalziel and Henri Zogaib started 19th, and ran as high as fourth before making contact with the No. 30 Mazda RX-8 of Ross Smith. Dalziel's car suffered a broken axle in the process, and the No. 30 - which spun after contact with Dalziel - was subsequently hit by the No. 97 Corvette of Jeff Bucknum. Dalziel and Zogaib finished 17th in Daytona Prototypes.- Michael Valiante and Max Angelelli's bad luck continued when the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Dallara's wheels locked up while leading on Lap 27. Valiante slid off the track in Turn 1 and limped around the track with a flat tire, the car falling off the lead lap and dropping out of the top 15. The car - which had developed a vibration early in the race and also spun on Lap 59 in the Bus Stop turn - finished 20th in Daytona Prototypes.- Marc Goossens and Jim Matthews suffered a severe blow to their championship hopes with a 15th-place finish in the No. 91 Bob Stallings/Riley-Matthews Motorsports Pontiac Riley. Matthews ran in the top five for several laps before running into the No. 07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R, forcing the No. 91 into the pits for bodywork repairs.
- The GT victory by Sylvain Tremblay and Nick Ham was the duo's second Rolex Series victory of the season and third for the SpeedSource team. It also marked the duo's second victory of the season at Daytona and the third straight overall at "The World Center of Speed."- Tremblay and Ham's victory was the third for Mazda this season. The team's No. 69 FXDD Mazda RX-8 won the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. Pontiacs have five GT victories this season, while Porsche owns one.- All nine Rolex Series GT races have been won from the front two rows, including five from the front row.- Second-place GT finishers Bryce Miller and Dirk Werner scored their best finish of the season, second, in the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3. Miller slipped past Robin Liddell at the start/finish line for the duo's best finish together since last year.- Stevenson Motorsports drivers Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis scored their sixth podium finish of the season with a third-place run.- Mid-Ohio Rolex Series GT winners Eric Lux and Leh Keen suffered an early setback when their No. 86 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3 developed a leak early in the race. The duo finished 20th in the GT class.- Five drivers in three cars led in GT competition: Dirk Werner (20), Nick Ham (19), Sylvain Tremblay (18), Jeff Segal (5), Bryce Miller (5).
Scott Pruett (No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley): "This is pretty big for us because we've never won this specific race in Daytona. Memo did a great job and the crew did a great job. Lexus gave us a good engine package and we got the most out of it. I really didn't think we'd see green after that crash - and it was a horrific crash. I really have to applaud Grand-Am because we, as a group I think, owe it to the fans to see it finish under green. Every restart, that's the only move I had. The No. 99 was certainly quicker in the infield. After about 2 or 3 laps, my rear tires just wouldn't hold on. I pulled a Hail Mary through the bus stop and tried to carry a lot of speed to get them before the start/finish line."
Memo Rojas (No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley): "My part of the race was very boring until the end. It was really just staying out of trouble. Very early, teams took different strategies but we were all in different sequences. So I was basically running by myself. The 99 had the lead in front of me, so I knew it was going to be keeping a good pace and staying out of trouble was important as I handed the car to Scott. Congratulations to Scott, because he did awesome job."
Jon Fogarty (No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley): "It was a little spooky at the beginning with light rain. The first couple of laps with people were being tentative. I had a pretty uneventful run for the most part. After things shook out through the first corner I was able to maintain that position until the two guys in front pitted and I was able to clear a few laps myself. When I handed it over to Alex, it was looking pretty good."
Alex Gurney (No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley): "I could see that if I didn't have a certain gap, that he would be able to close up really close or go by. On the last restart I was trying to get as good gap as I could. All those restart are really difficult. Every time you are out there it's tricky to find grip. I knew as soon as I turned back onto the oval that I probably didn't have enough gap. It's definitely a heart breaker. I know that it's an exciting race for everybody but I can tell you from my seat it's very painful. It's a great Grand-Am race for sure and congratulations to Scott and Memo. I just didn't have enough today, I guess."
Nic Jonsson (No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac): "The car was much better to race. The crew did a fantastic job. I'm very delighted to get back on the podium. I think there is more to come, especially with our strategy and staying out of trouble. I'm proud to be racing with Ricardo. Everyone did an awesome job on our team. I'm very pleased."
Ricardo Zonta (No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac): "I enjoyed it a lot, especially when we stopped for last pit stop. I knew I would have to fight a lot. I think everything went so well during the race. Practice and qualifying was very difficult with all the small problems we had with the car. I had a lot of fun with the race. I think we have to work hard, but everything has to be in the right place at the right moment. I think we are getting better."
Nick Ham (No. 70 SpeedSource Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8): "I kinda like this track. It was an all-around great team effort. We had kind of a NASCAR strategy with a quick splash of fuel and maintain tires. With the full course yellow, we lost that advantage. It was tragic what happen to Jeff. But we're very happy."
Sylvain Tremblay (70 SpeedSource Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8): "We had to be cautious, but today was pretty special with three in a row. We are really fortunate and really proud to be a part of this Mazda team. What Nick and I do is just a small part of the whole thing. Being a part of the series is really special."
Robin Liddell (No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R): "We weren't very confident about getting a superb result tonight, and finishing on the podium is a bonus for us. We're not our strongest on this circuit, so coming out of here with a third place is really a big result. The most important thing for us is putting some pressure on the No. 07 Pontiac car, the point leaders. So this is good for us and I'm really happy."
Andrew Davis (No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R): "Two victories and six podiums in seven races is a momentum we'd like to continue for the season. It's great and we'll keep trying to catch up to the top for points. It was a matter of keeping your nose clean tonight. We're proud of the Stevenson Motorsports Team."
Dirk Werner (No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT 3): "We wanted to hop on the train in terms of success like the No. 86 car from last race. I tried to just stay up front. Mazda's big advantage was not having to change tires. I'm really proud of the whole team. It was a big effort to stay motivated at this point in the season when you only see bad results all the time."
Bryce Miller (No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT 3): "It's nice to have the experience to close a race. Farnbacher Loles did a great job giving us a good car today. I thought Robin had me there in the bus stop, but I was really pleased to see these results. Since Dirk and I have been apart, we've had a bit of a dry spell. It's very special to share this."