Farnbacher Loles' Keen and Werner win Daytona! 7.4.09 -- Daytona Beach, FL - The Farnbacher Loles Racing team knew it was going to be a challenge for the Porsches to match the pace of the Mazdas on Daytona's high-speed banking for the Brumos ...
Farnbacher Loles' Keen and Werner win Daytona!
7.4.09 -- Daytona Beach, FL - The Farnbacher Loles Racing team knew it was going to be a challenge for the Porsches to match the pace of the Mazdas on Daytona's high-speed banking for the Brumos Porsche 250. In qualifying only one Porsche made it into the top five. Leh Keen laid down a scorching 1:51.325 on his fourth lap in the #87 Shock Doctor sponsored Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3 Cup to get within .179 of Nick Ham in the #70 SpeeedSource Mazda and secure a front row spot in P2. Eric Lux was the third fastest Porsche turning a 1:53.183 to take the eighth spot on the grid in his #86 Wheel Enhancement/Shark Energy USA Farnbacher Loles Porsche. Ron Yarab also put in a solid effort by posting a 1:56.497 in the Children's Tumor Foundation Porsche to grab the 15th starting spot.
The race kicked off in dramatic fashion in the high temperatures as Leh Keen held off a challenge from the third place starter going into turn one while Eric Lux wasted no time making his move. Lux got a fantastic start and was up to fifth by turn two of the opening lap. Unfortunately, Eric's move to the front was slowed as his right front tire blew out at high speed coming down the front straight approaching turn one. Eric's Porsche jerked violently right and came together with the 07 Pontiac, bringing out the first yellow. Eric was able to get back around to the pits and after a quick pit stop, rejoined the race. When the race resumed, Eric was up to second and Leh was back up to fifth after his stop for fuel and tires.
By lap 18 with more than 30 minutes gone, Leh was up to second, followed closely by Eric in third. Ron Yarab was having a great run in the CTF car and was up to 10th. At the halfway mark, Keen held second, Lux in third and Yarab was now up to eighth! A yellow flag soon came out bringing the cars into the pits for fuel, tires and driver changes. Dirk Werner took over the #87, Wolf Henzler took over the #86 and Daniel Graeff relieved Ron Yarab in the #85. Wolf Henzler briefly held the lead, but another flat tire and a stop-and-go penalty brought the 86 back to the pits. Dirk took over the point and held onto the first place position while Wolf rejoined in the sixth spot.
At the one hour forty minute mark, the second place Mazda of Sylvain Tremblay closed to within .5 seconds of Werner's #87 Porsche. Henzler held onto sixth and Graeff ran in 14th after a spin. As the race wound down, with five laps remaining, Tremblay tried to make a move on Werner coming into turn one but Dirk held his line. With one lap to go, Henzler made a pass to take over the fifth spot. As the checkered flag fell, Dirk Werner and Leh Keen notched their fourth win of the season and third straight. Henzler brought the #86 home in fifth while Ron Yarab and Daniel Graeff finished in 14th in the Children's Tumor Foundation Porsche.
Keen and Werner now have 221 points in the GT Class. The Daytona win gives them a 29-point lead in the Championship with five races remaining while Eric Lux moves up to third, only seven points out of second place. After the podium celebration, the drivers and crew looked forward to savoring the victory and a well-deserved cold drink.
Eric Lux was realistic about the finish. "We had a poor qualifying effort. We had too much wing, which really hurt us on top speed. But the crew made some changes before the start, which made the car much better and I was able to move up through the pack fairly quickly. We were running in second, three wide on the front straight when the right front tire blew out with no warning at about 180 miles per hour. The car veered hard right into the 07 Pontiac sending him spinning. I managed to get the car back to the pits, but the steering wheel was way off center after the hard hit. We got back out, but during a later caution, the right front went again. All-in-all, fifth place after the crazy day we had is not bad. Hopefully we can get back on the podium at Barber."
Team principal Gregory Loles was able to enjoy his team's fourth victory of the season.
"It was incredibly tough conditions for all the teams with the high heat. We obviously benefited from some miscues from our competitors. And it became a fuel race at the end. But I have to complement our crew. We had incredible pits stops. We really beat the Mazdas in the pits, which made the difference in the race. And Eric's blown tire could have been much, much worse if there wasn't a car alongside. But for the 87 drivers and crew, everything is going their way. Leh and Dirk drove another brilliant race and the crew did their part. Being able to add to the points lead was very important, but getting the win was a great bonus for the team."
The Grand-Am Rolex Series next heads to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, AL on Saturday, July 19th.