Daytona 24: GM Racing race report

Pontiac GXP.Rs Finished Second and Fourth in GT at Rolex 24 CITGO/SAMAX Second, SunTrust Third in DP DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. Jan. 28, 2007 - The No. 7 Pontiac GXP.R of Paul Edwards, Kelly Collins and Andy Pilgrim finished second in GT in ...

Pontiac GXP.Rs Finished Second and Fourth in GT at Rolex 24
CITGO/SAMAX Second, SunTrust Third in DP

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. Jan. 28, 2007 - The No. 7 Pontiac GXP.R of Paul Edwards, Kelly Collins and Andy Pilgrim finished second in GT in today's running of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve season opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The Pontiac trio persevered through the rain, cold and returning sunshine to bring the brand new Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R GT car home in second place. The only flaw of the 24-hour race was that the windshield wiper did not work the entire race. The companion GXP.R driven by Leighton Reese, Tim Lewis and Johnny O'Connell also ran a strong race bringing their Pontiac to the line in fourth.

"It was hard work for 24-hours," exclaimed Andy Pilgrim. "The car was really strong all day and night in the sun and in the rain. During the night the car was unstable, that may have been from the changing conditions. There were some wet patches that took a long time to dry. We had to control ourselves behind the wheel, we didn't want to spin and go off."

"What a day," relayed Leighton Reese, Banner Racing owner and driver of the team's No. 06 GXP.R. "It has been a lot of work to get to the finish line here today. Pontiac, GM Racing, Pratt & Miller and my guys really came together to get these cars on the track early so we could go for a successful finish at the 24. I had a few moments in my driving stints, especially in the rain. The car was easy to drive, we just need a little Nitrous on the high bank. We are well-positioned for the rest of the season, starting with a strong points base."

The dark horse of the race was Peter Baron's No. 11 CITGO/SAMAX Pontiac Riley driven by Milka Duno, Patrick Carpentier, Darren Manning and Ryan Dalziel. The Florida-based team took a measured approach to the race and ran undaunted the entire 24-hours and finished second in the biggest race of the season. For Milka Duno, she won the distinction of being the highest finishing female in the 45-year history of the 24-hour.

"It nearly went perfect," an excited Peter Baron explained. "The only thing that was missing was that next step on the podium. We were able to avoid the electrical problems that some of the others had, we didn't get caught out in the rain and the cars ran flawlessly, just add gas, oil, tires and driver."

The team's other entry, No. 7 SAMAX Riley, finished sixth on the strength of strong drives by drivers Thomas Enge, Chris Festa, Christian Montanari, Roger Yasukawa and Kris Szekeres.

Wayne Taylor's SunTrust Racing staged an amazing comeback when they went down 21 laps in the early going with a clutch failure at the four-hour mark. The team rebounded from the deficit to lead the race again Sunday morning, but a small brake issue set them back once again forcing them to settle for the last step on the podium.

"To try and catch up after the clutch fix, the team had me triple stint the car," Angelelli said. "I went out just when the rain was ending. We made some adjustments to the car and I was able to do very fast laps and make up some of the distance. The team made some changes to the car for the drying conditions and that really helped."

Racers Edge and their No. 30 Pontiac GXP.R had their 24-hour baptism. The team from just up the road in DeLand, Fla. overcame mechanical challenges and finished 28th.

"We had a tough go for the team's first 24-hour," said Ross Smith, driver of the No. 30. "Broken drive shaft in qualifying and another one early in the race put us back early. Then we had a spin and had to get towed in for some more repairs. We kept going and it was rewarding to make it to the finish. I had a great experience, the track is fast and all of the competition every lap."

The No. 75 and 76 of Krohn Racing endured a trying day to eventually come home in 17th and 21st place.

"As the day went on we got better," Tracy Krohn said. "We had the early electrical problem and overcame that little issue. The changing weather conditions, pouring rain, what a race! Even though we had some drama, I still had a great time. All of our drivers drove their hearts out and the crew had to endure some tough conditions."

Round two of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve will be run at Circuito Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, Mexico March 1-3.

-credit: gm racing

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Milka Duno , Darren Manning , Patrick Carpentier , Johnny O'Connell , Andy Pilgrim , Wayne Taylor , Kelly Collins , Leighton Reese , Peter Baron , Roger Yasukawa , Kris Szekeres , Chris Festa , Tracy Krohn , Tim Lewis , Ross Smith , Thomas Enge
Teams Krohn Racing