Look for Another Close Finish in Friday's Crown Royal 200 at The Glen
Last three Daytona Prototype races separated by a combined 0.486 seconds
Close racing and close finishes have been more than evident in Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 racing. Just ask Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Mark Wilkins or Brian Frisselle how they've felt after winning three of the closest five races in Rolex Series history over the last month-and-a-half.
Less than half of a second combined has separated the winners from the runners-up in the last three races - the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway, the Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park and last week's Montreal 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Whoever the winners are of Friday's Crown Royal 200 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International (WGI) will look for a little bit more breathing room when the checkered flag flies after two hours of racing. The race, showcasing the Daytona Prototypes only on the 2.45-mile short course, takes the green flag at 6:37 p.m. ET (SPEED, Same Day at 8 p.m. ET).
Wilkins passed both Darren Law and Antonio Garcia to win last Friday's Montreal 200 in the closest finish in the nine-year history of the Rolex Series. Wilkins and Frisselle gave AIM Autosport its first victory by edging Garcia by .064 seconds. Law finished third, .654 seconds back, in the closest 1-2-3 finish in Rolex Series history.
It marked the second in three races the winner earned the victory on a last-lap pass. Pruett passed Alex Gurney to win the Brumos Porsche 250, winning by .081 seconds in what was the closest Rolex Series finish at the time. In the following race, Pruett held off Law by .341 seconds at Barber Motorsports Park, the fourth-closest series finish at the time.
All eight of the "sprint format" races on the 2008 Rolex Series schedule have been decided by less than two seconds - including six by .629 seconds or closer. Only the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen (3.033 seconds) and season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona (two laps) were decided by 1.645 seconds.
With competition that close, a number of teams will be looking to take the checkered flag when the series returns to The Glen to share the bill with the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series. Wilkins and Frisselle will be looking for their second consecutive victory in the No. 61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley, while Law and David Donohue in the No. 58 Brumos Porsche Riley and Garcia and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 16 Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Pontiac Coyote look for the top step of the podium.
Pruett and Rojas are seeking a record-tying seventh victory in 2008 in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley, while taking another step closer to the championship with four races remaining. Gurney and Jon Fogarty in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley are the defending winners of the Crown Royal 200 - one of their seven triumphs en route to the 2007 Daytona Prototype title - and are 63 points behind in the standings (321-258).
Max Angelelli - the pole winner for the Sahlen's Six Hours and 2005 winner of the Crown Royal 200 - will be joined by Michael Valiante in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Dallara. The pair scored their best finish of the year at WGI in June, driving their Riley Daytona Prototype to a third-place finish. Other teams to watch include Mexico City winners Jim Matthews and Marc Goossens in the No. 91 Riley-Matthews Motorsports Pontiac Riley; Joao Barbosa and JC France, with six consecutive top-10 finishes in the No. 59 Brumos Porsche Riley; Joey Hand and Bill Auberlen in the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Porsche Riley, who were second at the white flag in Montreal before running out of fuel; and No. 3 Southard Motorsports Lexus Riley drivers Bill Lester and Shane Lewis, who led four laps at Montreal.
Several two-car teams are seeking their first victory of the season. Oswaldo Negri put the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley he shares with Mark Patterson on the pole for the Rolex 24, while John Pew and Ian James scored their first podium of the season with a third-place finish for the team's No. 6 entry at Barber. Krohn Racing, a two-time winner at The Glen, fields a pair of Pontiac Lolas - the No. 76 for Nic Jonsson and Ricardo Zonta and the No. 75 for Tracy Krohn and Eric van de Poele. Doran Racing, another team with a strong history at The Glen, has the No. 77 Kodak Ford Dallara for Memo Gidley and Brad Jaeger, joined by the No. 47 Brach's/CDOC Ford Dallara for Ricky Taylor and Burt Frisselle.
A pair of teams will be making their Daytona Prototype debuts this week. Childress-Howard Motorsports rolls out the No. 4 Pontiac Crawford for Andy Wallace, who will be joined by GT class regular and frequent NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitor Andy Lally. Alegra Motorsports moves up from the GT class to race the No. 28 Porsche Riley, driven by former Rolex 24 At Daytona GT class winners Carlos de Quesada and Jean-Francois Dumoulin.
Action gets underway with Thursday practice at 11:30 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying at 4:30 p.m. ET. The Crown Royal 200 - 82 laps with a two-hour time limit - is set for a 6:37 p.m. ET start on Friday.
- This is Round 12 for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16. The Daytona Prototype race is two hours or 200 miles (82 laps), whichever comes first.
- The green flag for the race is scheduled to fly at 6:37 p.m. ET on Friday. The race will air same day delay on SPEED, beginning at 8 p.m. ET (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.
- The 2007 Crown Royal 200 race winners were Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty.
ROLEX SERIES WEEKEND SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES EASTERN)
- Thursday: Rolex Series Practice (11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.); Rolex Series Practice (12:45-1:45 p.m.); Rolex Series Trueman/Akin Practice (3:45-4:15 p.m.); Rolex Series Qualifying (4:30-4:45 p.m.); Rolex Series Final Practice (7-8 p.m.)
- Friday: Crown Royal 200 at The Glen (6:37 p.m.; 200 miles/82 laps/two-hour time limit).
2008 IN REVIEW
Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas hold a 63-point advantage (321-258) in the Daytona Prototype standings after six victories in 10 starts. They won the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami, the Bosch Engineering 250 at VIR, the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen, the Brumos Porsche 250 and the Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley. In the Brumos Porsche 250, Pruett passed Gurney on the final lap to win the Brumos Porsche 250. 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. 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. Mark Wilkins and Brian Frisselle earned their initial triumphs in the Montreal 200, the closest finish in Rolex Series history.
NEWS & NOTES
- Home Empire: Andy Lally (born in Northport) and Mark Patterson (lives in Bronxville) are the only drivers in this weekend's field from New York state. Lally now lives in Georgia, while Patterson was born in South Africa.
- Pruett, Rojas Look for Sweep: Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas look to sweep the Rolex Series races at Watkins Glen after winning by 3.033 seconds in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen in June. The pair is one victory short of tying the all-time single season record of seven (Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty in 2007). Gurney and Fogarty swept both WGI races last season.
- Despite Leading, Gurney Not Getting Victories: While Alex Gurney has led the most laps in each of the three most recent Rolex Series races, the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley failed to win any of them. Gurney was slingshot at the finish of the Brumos Porsche 250 by Scott Pruett, resulting in a second place finish. Then, he led the most laps in the Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant at Barber Motorsports Park, only to lose the clutch late in the race and finish 16th. At Montreal, Gurney fell from first to seventh when he went off-track to avoid a spinning GT car, and was later collected by a Daytona Prototype that lost its brakes, resulting in an eighth-place finish.
- Two Daytona Prototypes to Debut at Watkins Glen: Childress-Howard Racing will unveil its No. 4 Pontiac Crawford this weekend. Three-time Rolex 24 winner Andy Wallace will be the lead driver on the car, with his wife, Catherine Crawford Wallace, the crew chief. Two-time Rolex Series champion Andy Lally, a GT regular and occasional NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver for TRG, will co-drive. Also debuting is the No. 28 Alegra Motorsports Gatorade/Today MD Porsche Riley of 2007 Rolex Series GT winners Carlos de Quesada and Jean-Francois Dumoulin. Scooter Gabel, who also shared in the Alegra Rolex 24 triumph, is also listed. Dumoulin also won the SGS class in the 2004 Rolex 24. De Quesada said the team will also race in the season finale at Miller Motorsports Park.
- New Look for No. 60 at The Glen: The No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley of Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri will have a new look this week. The car will feature the "Hospital for Special Surgery." The New York City facility performs more than 20,000 procedures a year. Patterson had surgery there last year after being hit by a car while riding a bicycle, allowing him to participate in the season finale at Salt Lake City.
- Brumos Continues to Surge: The No. 58 Brumos Porsche Riley of David Donohue and Darren Law opened the year with four finishes of 11th or worse, putting the drivers outside the top 20 in the standings. Since then, the pair has finished second three times and fifth twice prior to the Montreal 200, where Law ran out of gas shortly before the finish line and took third. Despite the setback, the pair has moved up to a tie for fifth in the standings, only 18 points behind Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty in third. The No. 59 Brumos Porsche Riley of JC France and Joao Barbosa have also been surging, with the two tied for ninth in the standings. They have finished in the top five in three of the most recent four races, with Barbosa setting the fastest race lap in the Montreal 200.
ROLEX SERIES POINT STANDINGS
- Daytona Prototype: 1. (tie) Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, (321); 3. Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty (258); 5. (tie) Darren Law, David Donohue (240); 7. (tie) Marc Goossens, Jim Matthews (238); 7. (tie) JC France, Joao Barbosa (237).
- MESCO Building for the Future Rookie of the Year: 1. Tim George Jr. (265); 2. Ted Ballou (249); 3. Ricardo Zonta (225); 4. Jeff Segal (224); 5. Diego Alessi (221).
- Pruett, Ganassi Continue Winning Record: Scott Pruett and Chip Ganassi continue to set records for overall wins in the Rolex Series. Pruett notched his 20th overall win in the Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant at Barber Motorsports Park, now seven more than second-place James Weaver. In turn, Ganassi earned his 21st win - all in Daytona Prototypes - 10 more than the SunTrust Racing team. Pruett has also finished in the top 10 in 29 consecutive Rolex Series Daytona Prototype races.
- Pontiac Owns Class Win Record: With eight class victories this season, Pontiac has passed Porsche for all-time class wins. Pontiac owns 52 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
John Pew (No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley): "I'm really looking forward to the Glen because we had a great test there earlier this season, and it's just a track that I love racing on."
Wayne Taylor (No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Dallara): "Montreal was a good example of just how competitive it is in this series. We had a fast car, as we've had all along since we introduced the Dallara, and a problem set us back and sent us home in sixth place. It was an exciting race, a lot went on out there from beginning to end. I'm sure anyone who saw it is a bigger fan of Grand-Am racing than ever. Unfortunately, we weren't racing for the win there at the end. Fortunately, we are going to Watkins Glen this week, where we have had some of our best days."
Carlos de Quesada (No. 28 Alegra Motorsports Porsche Riley): "We will be there. We're very excited. We believe the car will perform well. Mechanically, the car's very good. From this point on, it's about learning about the car and trying to figure out its aerodynamic package. We're not dealing with the traffic with the GT cars, so we think it's a great race to debut the car. We will be attending Utah, and then getting everything ready to get running next year, starting off with the Rolex 24 At Daytona."
Darren Law (No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley): "We would love to get it at The Glen. That's where Bob Snodgrass grew up, and he was always excited to go back there. The Glen would be a great place to do it. We've got two cars in the top five in the team points. We're knocking on the door. The Glen would be a great place to win."
Jon Fogarty (No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley): "We have been in a position to win a lot of races and things just aren't going our way. But we have got pace and we are doing the right things but we just have things going wrong, and that can't last forever. I want to start building momentum and carry it through the end of the season straight into Daytona next year. That's kind of where I am setting my sights right now."
Alex Gurney (No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley): "We think we can give the Ganassi guys a hard time the last four races. We arrive at the track every weekend thinking we're going to win. We've won a lot at The Glen, and we've been on the podium a bunch of times. We love it there. Last year's race was pretty crazy. It came down to the last lap, and we won in a good battle with Max Angelelli and Colin Braun."