Birmingham: Lexus race report

PRUETT, ROJAS AND LEXUS OVERCOME ALABAMA HEAT TO WIN BARBER LEWIS AND LESTER PLACE NINTH TO GIVE LEXUS TWO IN TOP-10 JBIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 20, 2008) -- With track temperatures soaring over 120 degrees, the Lexus duo of Scott Pruett and Memo...

PRUETT, ROJAS AND LEXUS OVERCOME ALABAMA HEAT TO WIN BARBER
LEWIS AND LESTER PLACE NINTH TO GIVE LEXUS TWO IN TOP-10 JBIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 20, 2008) -- With track temperatures soaring over 120 degrees, the Lexus duo of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas remained the hottest thing on the track as they registered their sixth Rolex Sports Car Series victory of the season in Sunday's Porsche 250 at the Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.

The win comes in just the ninth race of the season for the #01 Ganassi/Lexus team and gives both the drivers and the team a commanding 60-point championship lead with just five races remaining. In addition, Lexus stretched out its manufacturer's championship to 16 points. The race proved to be as much a battle of survival in the Alabama heat as it was a battle of speed. Yet, as contenders fell by the wayside, the ultra-consistent Ganassi team never missed a beat as the team continued a streak that has seen it complete every lap run in Daytona Prototype competition over the past two seasons.

After leading from Lap 53 through Lap 56, Pruett took the lead for good on Lap 91 of the 103-lap event and then held off a late charge by the Porsche of Darren Law for the victory.

In addition to the Ganassi victory, the race proved to be a fruitful one for the #3 Southard Motorsports Lexus driven by Shane Lewis and Bill Lester. After climbing as high as fourth during the middle portion of the race, the team fell back to 13th on their final pit stop. Lester then fought his way up through the field, gaining four spots in the closing laps to finish ninth and match the team's top finish of the season.

The Rolex Sports Car Series resumes Friday, August 1 at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, with same-day coverage beginning at 8 p.m. on SPEED.

Notes:

- Today's win is the sixth of the season for Lexus and the manufacturer's 23rd in Daytona Prototype competition dating back to 2004. The victory gives Lexus a sweep of all five Grand-Am races held below the Mason-Dixon Line this year -- two at Daytona, one at Homestead, one at Virginia and today in Birmingham. It also marks Lexus' first-ever win at Barber Motorsports Park after a previous best finish of third.

- Lexus can match its previous single-season high win total of seven, set in 2006, with just one victory in the season's final five races.

- Today's triumph is the sixth of the season for the #01 Telmex Lexus driven by Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas. With the victory, Pruett extends his Rolex Series record win total to 20 -- and it's the 21st for Chip Ganassi Racing -- also a Rolex Series record. The victory is the eighth for Rojas in 23 Grand-Am events.

- Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas can now capture the Rolex Sports Car Series championship by finishing eighth or better in each of the season's final five races.

- Today's finish is the eighth top-three podium finish in nine races this season for the Ganassi #01 Lexus. It also extends the team's record for consecutive top-10 finishes to 28, dating back to Mid-Ohio in June, 2006.

Memo Rojas, #01 Telmex Lexus: b^0x001cIt was a little crazy at the start. People were making some wild moves, but with the points race in the back of my mind, I made the decision just to let them go, thinking that we could get them back later. The car was running well other than a little bit of a push. I was surprised that it really wasn't that hot in the car. But we knew it was going to be a long race and a race of attrition. I felt that a couple of the other cars could have been there competing for the win with us at the end. Yet, it's still an endurance race and the Ganassi team gave us a car that could run to the finish today."

Scott Pruett, #01 Telmex Lexus: "I can't say enough about Lexus. The engine was great today. Even with all this heat, our water temps pegged, our oil temps were pegged -- everything was overheated -- including the driver - and the engine never let up. Memo (Rojas) did a great job today and the whole team did a great job. If we go on to win this championship, it's going to be because of the consistency of this team. We never seem to have a major problem with the car. We never have a problem with the engine. Every week they give us a good car and every race our pit stops are flawless. It's a total team effort."

-credit: lexus

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Shane Lewis , Scott Pruett , Darren Law , Gilles Villeneuve , Memo Rojas , Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing