The eighth round of the Rolex Sports Car Series - the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen - came perilously close to not taking place this weekend after a New York Supreme Court judge issued an injunction that would have permitted 17-year-old Colin...
The eighth round of the Rolex Sports Car Series - the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen - came perilously close to not taking place this weekend after a New York Supreme Court judge issued an injunction that would have permitted 17-year-old Colin Braun to compete in Saturday's race despite contracts between Watkins Glen International and the Indy Racing League, with whom the Rolex Series is sharing the track this weekend, prohibiting drivers under the age of 18 from competing on the same track on the same weekend as the IRL.
But on Friday afternoon Braun's team, Krohn Racing, agreed to withdraw Braun from the No. 76 Ford Riley he shares with Jorg Bergmeister and replace him with Boris Said, allowing the race to proceed as scheduled.
The legal wrangling, however, did not leave enough time for practice and qualifying. As a result, the 41-car starting grid will be based on team points, handing the pole to the Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley of Scott Pruett.
"Across the board when things come up like this, it's always difficult," said Pruett. "It's difficult for the teams. It's difficult for the governing bodies. It's difficult for those involved in anything like that. Unfortunately, the reality of it is that this is a big business and people -- drivers and team owners -- are concerned about their eligibility to do different things. I understand both sides, but I'm glad that I'm not in the middle of it."
"But it's difficult for everybody because we lost a good solid day yesterday so now we have to react to that," he continued. "The good thing was GrandAm was good enough to adjust the schedule to make it make sense. And not just say that we're sticking to the schedule. Based on the whole weekend so far, what Grand Am is doing has made the most sense of trying to make sure that everybody can get some time and get geared up for the race on Saturday."
Aside from some uncertainty regarding whether to race with certain new parts on the car, Pruett said his team is here to win. "I think it's what we do - from Chip Ganassi right on down. We're all focused on winning and we work hard to try and stay ahead no matter what the circumstances. We've had some ups and downs this year. We've had some mechanical issues that we didn't have in the past that have hurt us a little bit. But we've been able to rise up from that and stay focused on the championship."
The No. 19 Ford Crawford of Michael McDowell and Memo Gidley will start second, followed by the SunTrust Pontiac Riley of Wayne Taylor, Max Angelelli, and Ryan Briscoe.
"Things happen in motorsports," said McDowell. "It's just one of those unfortunate deals. To me it doesn't make too much of a difference because they're giving us practice time. And last night it was pouring rain so no one really cared too much that they were losing practice time. They just wanted to complain for no reason. But I'm glad we got going again.
"It's good on we're on the front row. But we came here and tested last weekend and we had good speed, so I think we would have been up there either way. It just gives us a good opportunity to work on our race setup rather than worrying about qualifying, which is nice. It definitely helps when you are upfront in the points. It helps you with pit selections and its helps you for situations like this, so it's definitely paying off this weekend and I think we have a good shot at winning. Memo Gidley is back with us, so we're kind of back up to speed with everything and Guy Cosmo is here if we need him as well. So I'm feeling pretty good about the weekend and the points. Hopefully we'll get some good results and we'll take it to the last two or three races where we can race hard and try to get the championship."
This is Gidley's first race since a savage wreck in Long Beach in April. "He definitely went through a pretty intense recovery. Memo's just in awesome shape to begin with and he works harder than anyone out here. So I knew he was going to have a fast recovery but no one really knew it was going to be this fast. He's pretty much two months ahead of the game. He did an awesome job getting to where he is now and I have no doubts that he will be back up to speed quickly. I don't think it's going to take much."
Bergmeister and Said will start fourth and the Alex Job Racing/Emory Motorsports Porsche Crawford of Patrick Long and Mike Rockenfeller will roll off fifth.
"This year it seems like we've been one of the teams that have come off the truck pretty quick out of the box," said Long. "Other teams have done well by doing their homework and pounding through a bunch of stuff. But we don't run drastically different setups between tracks. Mike and I are really fresh to this track and we don't know it very well. It's a little bit tough and it's a lot to digest, but saying that extra two of hours of practice tonight is unexpected and appreciated. I think we'll have plenty of time as long as the weather stays clear.
"This is the kind of track that Mike and I like; it's quick and it's flowing. I think we should be alright. Although we've been real strong on the brakes this year, there's not tons of braking here so we'll see. It's early."
In the GT class, the No. 65 TRG Pontiac GTO.R of Andy Lally, Marc Bunting, and RJ Valentine was awarded the class pole, followed by the No. 72 Tafel Racing Porsche and the second TRG Pontiac GTO.R.
Saturday's race will start at 2:30 p.m. and be broadcast live on the Speed Channel.