Road Atlanta: Intersport Racing race report

Dayton and Field win LMP 675 Class and finish third overall in Chevy Grand Prix of Atlanta Sunday BRASELTON, Ga., June 29 - Duncan Dayton of North Salem, N.Y. posted his third American Le Mans Series (ALMS) class victory and helped co-driver Jon...

Dayton and Field win LMP 675 Class and finish third overall in Chevy Grand Prix of Atlanta Sunday

BRASELTON, Ga., June 29 - Duncan Dayton of North Salem, N.Y. posted his third American Le Mans Series (ALMS) class victory and helped co-driver Jon Field of Dublin, Ohio give the Intersport Racing team its highest overall finish in the series ever during the Chevy Grand Prix of Atlanta at Road Atlanta Motorsport Park Sunday afternoon.

The pair's Intersport Racing Lola EX2257/AER MG #37 won the LMP 675 class hands down and finished third overall in the two-hour and 45-minute event, which was broadcast live on CBS.

Dayton said that he plans to do the rest of the ALMS schedule with the team, which is seven more events this year. His three class victories have all come with Intersport Racing, as he won at Sebring and the Petit Le Mans here last year.

The team's story today primarily came down to one of fuel mileage.

"We've been having issues with our engines, so we de-tuned this one to try to make it last," Dayton explained in the pits as victory began to look like it might occur. "We just don't know what our fuel mileage will be now though compared to the other cars. We'll probably need one last pit stop for a splash of fuel just to finish the race. We're 16 or 17 seconds ahead of the #16 car [James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger's Lola] now, so it all comes down to whether we'll have to pit for fuel and how long that will take relative to everybody else."

As it turned out the Intersport team didn't even need that last splash-and-go fuel stop. Field passed Max Papis for third overall in the late stages of the race, and they won the class convincing over Weaver and Leitzinger, who finished fourth overall, 6.165 seconds behind them.

Field started third in class and seventh overall. He got off to a great start, zooming to second in class and fourth overall by the first 30 minutes of the race. Dayton got into the car at 3:54 p.m. and continued to reel off similar fast laps, relinquishing the steering wheel back to Field at 4:49 p.m.

The Intersport team was still second in class until 4:45 p.m., when Leitzinger's Lola wouldn't restart immediately after it received fuel and tires. That gave the class lead to Field, which he never relinquished.

To make things even better, the team was able to pass Papis's Panoz within the last half-hour of the race to nail down third place in the overall standings to boot. The only cars of the 36 entered in the race to do any better than Dayton and Field's Lola were the two Audi R8s, and they were in the more powerful LMP 900 class.

"The car is pretty good," Dayton said after completing his stint. "The tires started to go after awhile; I was getting some wheel spin off the slow speed corners, and then the fronts started to go.

"The Olive Garden car [a Ferrari] caught me once there and we had a close call," he added. "I did one spin in three and flat-spotted the tires, but we're feeling pretty good. I stayed with the Champion Audi for four or five laps, so the car can't be too bad. I signaled him by but he didn't go, so then I said, 'Well, OK then, you'll have to earn the spot.

"The track is greasy in turn seven, but other than that it's holding together well," he added.

Not long after that he was celebrating in victory lane.

"I can't believe it all came together at the end," he said. "The engine - and everything else - was just great!"

The next American Le Mans Series race is the Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. at noon Pacific time on Sunday, July 27. It will be broadcast live on NBC and on a tape-delayed basis on Eurosport. That race will be two hours and 45 minutes in length too.

-www.intersportracing.com-

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Series ALMS
Drivers Duncan Dayton , Butch Leitzinger , James Weaver , Max Papis , Jon Field