On-Track Penalty De-Rails Lexus hopes at Daytona TORRANCE, Calif. (June 30, 2005) -- A some-what controversial penalty thwarted any chance for a Lexus podium finish in Thursday night's Brumos 250 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series event at...
On-Track Penalty De-Rails Lexus hopes at Daytona
TORRANCE, Calif. (June 30, 2005) -- A some-what controversial penalty thwarted any chance for a Lexus podium finish in Thursday night's Brumos 250 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series event at the Daytona International Speedway as Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz (#01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley) eventually finished sixth overall as the highest finishing Lexus-powered machine.
Pruett, who had previously led nine laps, was running a hard-charging sixth with less than 15 laps remaining when he made contact with one of the lapped GT cars. The unintentional contact took place after Pruett had thought he had cleared the slower car in traffic. Unfortunately, the reigning Daytona Prototype champion was black-flagged and given a drive-through penalty, dropping him to 13th. He recovered to gain seven spots in the final 13 laps for a sixth-place finish. The result dropped Pruett and Diaz to second in the series point standings.
Changing weather conditions throughout the day made the one-day event a challenging one for the teams. Race strategies and set-ups also were altered by a number of yellow flag caution periods run through the middle of the race. The outcome of the cautions proved to be a contest that would largely be determined by fuel conservation.
The race proved to be a struggle for the #02 New Century Mortgage Lexus-Riley of Stefan Johansson and Cort Wagner. After qualifying second, the team's fortunes turned downward after a lengthy pit stop/driver change. Shortly after returning to the track, the car had an off-course excursion that seemed to affect the remainder of the evening's run and they combined for a 13th-place finish.
After struggling the past few races, the #77 Crown Royal Special Reserve Lexus-Doran of Matteo Bobbi and Fabrizio Gollin appeared to be on their way to their best finish since placing fifth at the season-opener in Daytona. Sadly, the team appeared to suffer a suspension failure in the waning stages of the event that cost them a probable top-10 finish.
Chris Bingham and Hugo Jacques Guenette (DLGL Lexus-Riley) rounded out the Lexus contingent with a 20th-place finish Thursday evening.
The Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series continues July 31 at the Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. The 250-mile sprint race can be seen live on SPEED at 1 p.m. EDT.