DISCOUNT TIRE SUNCHASER
With the DP driving title all but squared away -- current first-place driver Jorg Bergmeister would have to finish 16th or worse Saturday with a corresponding first-place finish by Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz to lose it -- one would think the racing were all but over.
The team and manufacturer championships are still close enough that no one dare blink an eye -- or miscue some pit stop aspect.
All of seven points separate third-place from first in the Team Championship, with Chip Ganassi/Felix Sabates' CompUSA No. 01 Lexus-Riley on top, followed, respectively, by the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac-Riley crew and No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford-Riley team.
In the even-tighter manufacturer's championship, Lexus leads Pontiac by two points -- a feat made all the more noteworthy by the fact that Pontiac has nearly three-times the number of teams who regularly campaign its engine -- the balance being made up of Ford, Porsche and BMW.
What do the Team and Manufacturer championships mean?
The Team is rather obvious, in that the trophy recognizes the contributions and skills of the whole organization, not just those of the drivers. In a competitive motorsports job market where every little bit helps it also looks pretty good on a team member's resume.
The Manufacturer's is a little less obvious. In something that just doesn't stop with some corporate back-slaps, the team and drivers who propel the manufacturer to the honor more often than not get some favorable nods when testing is sought (more money for the team and drivers who do the testing), get technical input from that team -- especially from drivers -- and, sometimes, a slight advantage in access to that product (Ganassi got the new 5.0-liter Lexus engine earlier this year one race before the other teams).
To be sure, a driving championship gets a lot of notice, but the others mean a lot, too.
2007 ROLEX SCHEDULE
Last I heard the 2007 Rolex Series schedule will be released later today by Grand American president Roger Edmondson at Miller Motorsports Park.
Though there are some changes - like splitting the GT and DP races into separate shows (though not at the Rolex 24) - the schedule stands pretty well pat as compared to 2006.
The most notable change includes one desert venue being dropped in favor of a second international venue north of the U.S. border. A needed repair in the absence of the Mont Tremblant venue, it'll replicate the move another motorsports sanctioning body blazed years ago.
RACING MMP AT NIGHT
Of racing at Miller Motorsports Park, Flight Options No. 60 driver Mark Patterson, co-driver with Oswaldo Negri, said:
"One feature no one thought about was the result of a four-off or even dropping a single wheel at night. With no grass around this desert track just yet, an unavoidable cloud of dust billows into the air, which during the day isn't the worst of problems. At night, sharp headlight beams convert the dust into an impenetrable white wall and I'm going to forecast that at least one car gets taken out unfairly (and unsafely?) in the final hour due to this oversight."
"The pits have little to no lighting, so if he weren't already dead, we'd be calling in Ray Charles to change the outside wheels during pit stops."
Lest you think he's all negative: though the above gets more lines than his praise, rest assured Patterson otherwise thinks very highly of MMP and is having a gas at the track.
Officially, the U.S. Naval Observatory says sunset hits at 8:00 p.m. MDT and "End (of) civil twilight (at) 8:27 p.m." MDT.
You'll be able to check out Patterson's assertions. After an opening live race broadcast running from 2 p.m. - 5 p.m. EDT (noon to 3 p.m. MDT), SPEED will resume broadcasting live from 8:30 p.m. EDT (6:30 p.m. MDT) through the race's conclusion.
OOPS; MEA CULPA, TOO
Wayne Taylor strolled up to me in the Rolex Series' Infineon Raceway ... I don't really want to call it a 'paddock' ... in the Infineon Raceway boonies (only one mile, each way over hill and dale, from the assemblage of haulers to pit road) and said, "I told you that you should always call me when you want to know something that's going on with SunTrust Racing."
Of course, I hadn't when last I wrote herein about SunTrust teaming with Chip Ganassi Racing for 2007.
For the story yours truly relied on a source who otherwise would be considered impeccable by nearly all who would speak with him, a charismatic driver of considerable note, who has acquitted himself well in motorsports, having won races and championships alike across a broad spectrum of four-wheeled motorsports. Alas, because he'd earlier heard of such a possibility, this writer broke one of the cardinal rules of reporting: check two independent sources for verification.
For the record, Taylor was mum about his 2007 plans and remained so even off the record.
Another credible source says ... naw ... I'm going to see Taylor Saturday and ask him if what I've gotten this time is correct. Then we'll see if he'll answer a direct question. Whatever his answer -- unless permission to post is otherwise granted -- I'm keeping mum on SunTrust subject matter from now on out, too.
But, to the readers, I apologize. I've already apologized to Taylor.
Look for an interesting off-season evolution in the DP concept.
-Written Exclusively for Motorsports.com by DC Williams