Daytona II: TRG race report

TRG Extends Championship Lead with Victory at Daytona Petaluma, Ca. (June 30, 2006) - One year ago, TRG rolled out the new Pontiac GTO.R's for all the world to see at Daytona International Raceway. Everyone's expectations were sky...

TRG Extends Championship Lead with Victory at Daytona

Petaluma, Ca. (June 30, 2006) - One year ago, TRG rolled out the new Pontiac GTO.R's for all the world to see at Daytona International Raceway. Everyone's expectations were sky high, but there would be no Pontiac victory in the Rolex Series GT Class that weekend. The #64 car did not participate due to mechanical problems, and the #65 settled for a 20th place finish after an incident with a Daytona Prototype.

Fast forward to 2006, and the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway. Going into this event, the debut race one year ago was the only event where one or both teams of TRG GTO.R drivers was not standing on the podium at the end of the race. A truly unbelievable streak of podiums that has been threatened lately by the charging competition and a pile of restrictions on the Pontiacs by Grand American.

TRG came to the track with a slim points lead in the season competitions. Marc Bunting and Andy Lally led all drivers and teams in the #65 TRG/F1 Air GTO.R. Following close behind in third place were teammates Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards in the #64 TRG/iRise GTO.R. Racing along with the GTO's for TRG were the #66 TRG Porsche GT3 with Jime Lowe and Jim Pace at the helm, and the #67 GT3 driven by Mike Solley and R.J. Valentine.

As the sun descended over Daytona Beach, the tense race came down to a strategy session. The #72 NEC Porsche GT3 of Tafel Racing took the lead into the final laps, but was forced to pit for fuel due to a damaged front end and a fuel pickup problem, reminiscent of the problem they experienced at Lime Rock. This second pit by the #72 handed the lead to hard charging Andy Lally. Even the SPEED commentators were questioning whether the TRG vehicle could last the final few laps without topping off its fuel tank. But TRG's single-pit strategy paid off, and as the NEC Porsche was coming out of pit lane, Lally streaked across the line for the checkered flag and the third victory of the season for he and Bunting in the #65 Pontiac machine.

Daytona was not as kind to third-running team Collins and Edwards. Mechanical problems sidelined them for a 16th place finish and increased the points margin between them and the top two season championship contenders.

TRG Porsches performed beautifully at Daytona as well, as the #66 Porsche took 10th place, and the #67 Porsche finished in 13th. #66 driver Jim Lowe was anxious to follow up a stellar performance at Watkins Glen, "Unfortunately we didn't get to run a qualifying session so the grid was set by the standings, starting us further back than we would have liked. I got checked by the driver in front of me at the start and lost a few positions but handed the car over to Jim Pace in 14th. We ran out of race in the end, Jim was making up time quickly. Our fastest lap was only one second off the pace of the very front runners. I'm happy with a top ten finish, but we are looking forward to racing again for TRG in Utah and will be gunning for the podium."

Team Owner Kevin Buckler showed his enthusiasm: "Wow! What a well-earned victory for TRG! We pushed the GTO's hard even though our top speed was down due to the new restrictors. Our strategy to pit one time made the difference. Its a shame that Paul (Edwards) and Kelly (Collins) lost the engine, they were having a really strong run. As usual, I am completely impressed with the abilities and results from our Porsche teams. This was Mike Solley's first run at Daytona, and he handled it like a champ. R.J. was instrumental in showing Mike the ropes of this track. And the Jim's - Jim Lowe and Jim Pace - it's almost automatic. They consistently turn in great finishes for TRG. We love having them on board. As soon as the race was over I called Emmet Keeffe from iRise in Hong Kong to give him the good news. I really want to thank our friends and partners at iRise and F1 Air."

Lally and Bunting now have an 8 point lead in the Drivers and Team Competition, and at this juncture of the season, every point counts toward the final podium. TRG and the Rolex Series doesn't race again until the last weekend in July, at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, AL. Look for TRG Pontiacs and Porsches to fight hard through the rest of the season, as only three races remain in the 2006 campaign.

The team would like to thank its sponsors iRise, F1 Air, Alpine Bagel, Adobe Road Wines and CIO Magazine for their support.

-www.theracersgroup.com

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Paul Edwards , Kevin Buckler , Andy Lally , Jim Pace , Marc Bunting , Jim Lowe