Daytona II: Lexus race report

Tire Woes Cost Pruett/Rojas Shot At Daytona Win DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 4, 2009) -- After dominating the early portion of the race, a blown tire while running second cost the duo of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas a shot at victory in Saturday's...

Tire Woes Cost Pruett/Rojas Shot At Daytona Win

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 4, 2009) -- After dominating the early portion of the race, a blown tire while running second cost the duo of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas a shot at victory in Saturday's Brumos 250 on the way to a seventh-place finish on the road course at the Daytona International Speedway.

Starting from the pole position, Rojas immediately moved to the front and led the first 13 laps before relinquishing the top spot when he came into the pits under caution. Rojas dropped back to sixth, but quickly worked his way back up through the field and re-took the race lead.

Rojas remained in front for five more laps before falling back to second place just past the 45-minute mark. Just two laps later, Rojas' tire blew and hopes for a third straight Grand-Am victory were dashed.

When Rojas made his way to the pits, Pruett took over the driving duties and resumed one lap down and in 14th-place. The reigning Grand-Am champs made up their lap under a full-course caution, but were more than a minute back when the race resumed under green. Unfortunately for the Ganassi team, the race was caution-free the rest of the way and Pruett was forced to drive his way back through the spread out field, gaining six spots on his way to a seventh-place showing.

For just the second time this season, the Ganassi squad entered a second car, this time for Toyota NASCAR SPRINT Cup drivers Kyle Busch and Scott Speed. Busch qualified the #02 Waste Management Lexus a respectable 10th, despite having just one previous test in the car. Things took a turn for the worse early as NASCAR's biggest winner missed the "Bus Stop" turn and flat spotted the tires, forcing him to come to the pits after the first lap. Busch re-joined in the 26th position, but steadily moved up through the field and into the top-15 by the time the first major round of pit stops occurred. With a number of the leaders pitting, Busch climbed as high as fourth before falling back to run a solid seventh through most of the remainder of his stint.

Busch then turned over his Ganassi mount to Speed just past the one-hour mark as the car began to suffer brake problems in the blistering Florida heat. The former Formula One driver began his stint in 14th and then worked his way into the top-10, running as high as ninth before eventually finishing 10th.

The Rolex Sports Car Series resumes on Sunday, July 19 at the Barber Motorsports Park in suburban Birmingham, Ala. The race will be televised live on SPEED beginning at 3 p.m. EDT.

Notes:

Despite a somewhat disappointing seventh-place finish, Pruett and Rojas continue to lead the series' championship race as the top three entries are separated by just three points.

- After leading 18 laps today, the #01 Lexus continues to lead the series in laps led with 381 through the season's first seven races. The team is just one of two in the series to lead every race this season.

- Today's race marked the first-ever Grand-Am appearance for both Kyle Busch and Scott Speed as their #02 Lexus ran as high as fourth before finishing 10th.

- Memo Rojas earned the team's fourth pole position and sixth consecutive front-row starting appearance in this morning's qualifying.

Memo Rojas, #01 Telmex Lexus: "The car was very good today. We were in a good position (running second at approximately the one-hour mark) when the tire blew. It happened somewhere in the infield, so we had to limp all the way around the track back to the pits and that cost a lap. The conditions were tough. It was very hot out there."

Kyle Busch, #02 Waste Management Lexus: "The stint was fine. The start was not very good. Not having any downforce there back in the pack like that is tough. I just locked up the tires going into the bus stop there at the start. Had to head to pit road early for tires. We got behind, but we ended up getting our way back up to fourth or fifth I believe and then I kept missing some of the breaking zones due to downforce. These cars are just so much different. I was off in turn one also and that's why I just wasn't able to keep the brakes on the car. I did finally find a rhythm from about the fourth to maybe the 18th lap and got fairly comfortable. Other than that, it was fun. Very, very, hot in those cars. Just the biggest thing was to get some fluids back in me since I know I lost a ton of fluids. The faster you can get to the medical center after getting out of the car the faster I could get taken care of and get some rest before tonight's race."

-credit: lexus

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Scott Pruett , Scott Speed , Memo Rojas , Kyle Busch