DC's Miami Grand Prix Epilogue

GAINSCO Miami Grand Prix Epilogue OLD TEAMMATES This writer was taking a race-day morning cruise (more like "trolling") through the Homestead-Miami Speedway garage when Marc Goossens and Oswaldo Negri were spied quietly talking in a dark...


GAINSCO Miami Grand Prix Epilogue


OLD TEAMMATES

This writer was taking a race-day morning cruise (more like "trolling") through the Homestead-Miami Speedway garage when Marc Goossens and Oswaldo Negri were spied quietly talking in a dark corner slightly removed from the maddening crowd.

"Did you know we once were teammates in Formula 3000?" Goossens asked.

Facing a question if anyone in open-wheel racing "truly could be considered teammates" - as in an American baseball, football or basketball sense - Goossens fessed up.

"Well, until we got alongside each other at the last turn," the Belgian said.

In a crazy-scientist kind of way, a bright-eyed Negri grinned, nodded, laughed a little and said, "Yeah!"

Little did they know, huh?

Later, with the GAINSCO Miami Grand Prix race in its final laps, a fourth-place Goossens and his No. 91 Riley-Matthews Motorsports Pontiac-Riley MkXX was doggedly pursuing Negri's third-place No. 60 Mike Shank Racing Ford-Riley MkXX.

A patient Goossens - who was at the wheel when the No. 91 team won the 2007 Rolex Series finale at Miller Motor Sports Park - was looking for Negri's smallest bobble when the Brazilian, who was running out of tire, obliged on the racetrack's hard-left, final infield turn leading back to HMS' oval.

Goossens was alongside Negri's left side when the two commenced drag-racing (probably each wishing for some nitrous oxide) toward the HMS backstretch banking. Negri had a choice: hold his line or move wide.

With Negri choosing the former, Goossens had no choice but to drive over about a 15-foot section of grass and dirt - just enough to take him out of the battle for third.

During the battle, many pit-road eyes were turned to a nearby jumbo-sized TV monitor - including those of No. 91 co-owner/driver Jim Matthews.

As the Nos. 60 and 91 drove to their respective third and fourth-place finishes, Matthews bolted toward the nearby MSR pit and Negri co-driver Mark Patterson.

Matthews raised his hand and with a sly grin on his face offered his congratulations.

One can only wonder what Goossens at the time might've thought about his former teammate; perhaps having another quiet conversation?

Goossen Tidbit In 2006, driving for Robert Yates Racing at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Goossens finished 9th in his first NASCAR Nationwide (nee Busch) Series start.

COULDA, WOULDA, SHOULDA, ALMOST

The pre-season promise of the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Porsche-Crawford DP team started showing up Saturday at HMS as it scored a second-place finish.

Drivers Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand kept the car up front and put it on the point before being dropped to second by the winning No. 01 Lexus-Riley of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix (and Jose) Sabates.

Auberlen, who won the 2007 race driving the Sigalsport BMW-Riley (which, with new sponsor Rum Bum - check it out at RumBum.com - finished fifth Saturday), is one of only a handful of drivers who'll probably express favorable thoughts about the HMS track.

Still, Auberlen by mid-season last year was of the mind to find a team with which he could capture a championship and, considering AJR certainly has experience therein, has found a solid home wherein to accomplish the task.

Now tied with Hand for fifth-place in the points and with the season barely begun, Auberlen has one of his best-ever shots.

THE CRAWFORD GEN-2 DP

Having gotten three explanations as to why the new Crawford bodywork wasn't on the second-place Ruby Tuesday, all one can say is they weren't in agreement except for one aspect: it's gotta be "in play" by June.

It's safe to say one car owner isn't terribly thrilled, especially after having last fall considered, but dismissed, a jump to another DP constructor by ultimately deciding to run with what it brung to the dance.

At HMS, assurances were given that the bodywork and a full-fledged new car would be ready to go for two Daytona Prototypes (one each from AJR and Howard-Childress) to race in the May 17 Rolex Sports Car Series Presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 2008 Monterey Festival of Speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Or is it "2008 Monterey Festival of Speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca May 17 Rolex Sports Car Series Presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16?"

Or it could be "Rolex Sports Car Series Presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 May 17 2008 Monterey Festival of Speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca?"

Or . . . oh, never mind.

UNWEILDY TITLES

See above (and can anyone else imagine SPEEDtv's Leigh Diffey spitting it out in his Australian-English dialect? Poor guy, he's probably already started practicing it in the mirror. Geesh, all I need do is write it, at times reverting to the ever-handy cut, copy and paste functions).

FRISSLLE DALLARA PROGRESS

Word from Brad Frisselle, father of brothers Brian (co-drives the No. 61 Aim Autosport Ford-Riley with Mark Wilkins) and Burt, is that the latter brother's Ford-Dallara - which he'll co-drive with Gabriele Gardel - might not be ready for the Mexico City race.

"It's 'iffy,'" the senior Frisselle said at HMS. (Anyone else remember the Can-Am "Frissbee" that Al Unser Jr. drove to that series championship in the late-1970's?).

Delivered without plumbing or wiring, Frisselle expressed some exasperation and surprise over the need for the Dallara's considerable in-shop preparation prior to it becoming even a roller.

"We didn't expect it," he said.

"Kevin's (Doran) even hired some of the guys let go by the Rahal team. So we've got some excellent personnel. It's just getting it done and done right. There might not be enough hours in the day to do it."

A BANNER DAY IN GT

Between finally getting up to speed in 2007 and then finding some additional "ballast" in their 2008 No. 07 Pontiac GXP.R, Paul Edwards and Kelly Collins have been a couple of pretty frustrated drivers over the last year or so.

Still, doing what championship material does best, the two kept their feet in the throttle and kept grinding gears, racking up a first-place GT-finish Saturday at HMS.

It was a close one; leading the No. 67 TRG Porsche of Tim George Jr. and Spencer Pumpelly across the finish line by less than two seconds, followed in third by the No. 08 Banner sister-car of Jan Magnussen and Leighton Reese.

As of HMS' end, six drivers occupying the GT-class' top-three points positions are within three points of each other (let's see . . . two-times three equals six and, no doubt, before long '6-6-6' by some conspiracy nut, somewhere). George and Pumpelly are on top, followed by Sylvain Tremblay and Nick Ham in second. Collins and Edwards round out the three (uh-oh) spots.

NOTABLES

If you've not paid attention to Cheever Racing's Crown Royal Cask No. 16, you might wish to do so.

Drivers Antonio Garcia and Matteo Bobbi apparently were heading toward a darn decent finish before the team's Pontiac engine expired in their Coyote DP.

Some seasoned paddock observers said that while the Coyote's high-downforce profile kept it from attaining the top-end speed (said to be about 4 mph) other DPs achieved (even though the No. 16 ran a solid top-five before the engine soured), it likely would perform particularly well at tracks that favor it, like the May 16-17 race at Mazda raceway Laguna Seca.

Interestingly, though CFD (computational fluid dynamics; a really low-tech application akin to "Etch-A-Sketch") was employed in its design, the Coyote has yet to undertake a wind tunnel test.

A 2007-season Coyote design - the Porsche 8-cylinder-powered No. 09 Spirit of Daytona - qualified sixth on the grid in only its third competition (the first being in September at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah).

Driver Guy Cosmo was running in fourth-place when the car spun. Later relieved by co-driver Marc-Antoine Camirand, the team eventually finished 13th. As later validated by Goossens, one can hardly afford to burp a DP without a resultant and considerable loss of ground on the track.

The Cayenne-based engine, built by longtime engine-builder Lozano Brothers Porting in Cibolo, Texas, is still undergoing development, according to Spirit team owner Troy Flis.

KNEE, THEN RVO GONE

There would've been 20 Daytona Prototypes on the grid for the Homestead-Miami Grand Prix if owner/driver Roger Schramm, Rockford, Ill., hadn't injured (some in the race paddock said "shredded") a knee on a downhill, snow-covered slope in the days leading up to the race.

For the last couple of seasons, and perhaps inadvertently championing the neo gray-hair generation, Schramm's No. 12 Rock Valley Oil and Chemical Co. Pontiac-Riley crew is mostly comprised of those who've been around racing for a lot longer than some might want to verbally admit (at least they don't use hair-colorings) and have busted knuckles with some of racing's best.

Team manager Dave Watson (who assuredly would prefer to die while wearing his pointy-toed, cockroach-killing boots) has accumulated many honors over his half-century of racing, among which included driving to a 1977 ASA national championship and being a championship-winning wrench and team manager for Jack Roush during the present day NASCAR-owner's SCCA/GTO days. Shoot, Watson's even entered a NASCAR Sprint Cup race or two - as an owner.

There's no firm word on if or when the RVO team (and pro-driver Justin Bell) will make it back to the Rolex Series paddock, but some estimated it might be as much as three months.

Given Social Security's supposed state of affairs (you know, "The sky is falling; the sky is falling" v. 2,397.19), it may run out of benefits before those on the crew get a chance to further supplement theirs.

Later.
    DC Williams, exclusively for motorsport.com

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About this article
Series General , Grand-Am
Drivers Paul Edwards , Antonio Garcia , Jan Magnussen , Al Unser Jr. , Marc Goossens , Bill Auberlen , Marc-Antoine Camirand , Joey Hand , Guy Cosmo , Justin Bell , Kelly Collins , Matteo Bobbi , Sylvain Tremblay , Jim Matthews , Spencer Pumpelly , Chip Ganassi , Mark Wilkins , Jack Roush , Robert Yates , Nick Ham , Gabriele Gardel , Roger Schramm , Tim George Jr.
Teams Williams , Chip Ganassi Racing , Yates Racing