Grand-Am Series Millville Race Report

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New Jersey Motorsports Park

GRAND-­-AM Cooldown Lap: New Jersey Motorsports Park

The Points

DP: Scott Pruett/Memo Rojas 295; Max Angelelli/Ricky Taylor 266, Jon Fogarty/Alex Gurney 250.

GT: Leh Keen/Andrew Davis 241, Jordan Taylor/Bill Lester 240, Jonathan Bomarito/Sylvain Tremblay 229.

#1 Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas: BMW Riley, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
#1 Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas: BMW Riley, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates

Photo by: Bob Heathcote

The Story

Scott Pruett put another check on his victory list Sunday, taking advantage of sizzling conditions to post his first career victory at New Jersey Motorsports Park – one of only two circuits that the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series visits where he had never won.

Pruett and Rojas took their fifth triumph of the season in the No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley, taking another step toward a second consecutive Daytona Prototype championship in front of the largest crowd for a GRAND-AM event in the four years the series raced at the circuit.

Max Angelelli passed Alex Gurney in the closing laps to take second in the No. 10 SunTrust Chevrolet/Dallara started from the pole by Ricky Taylor. Gurney held on to finish third in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet/Riley co-driven by Jon Fogarty.

In a change from the TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates strategy for the sprint races on the Rolex Series schedule, Pruett both started and finished the event, with Rojas driving the middle hour. Pruett rebounded from a drive-through penalty early in the race when he spun out Taylor while battling for the lead. Taylor led the opening 36 circuits before the contact.

Pruett took the lead for the first time with less than one hour remaining when Angelelli pitted on lap 99. He led the final 19 circuits to score his 36th DP victory, sharing 23 of them with Rojas.

In the production-based GT class, Mazda scored a podium sweep led by Sylvain Tremblay and Jonathan Bomarito in the No. 70 Mazdaspeed/Castrol Edge Mazda RX-8. Unlike last year – when SpeedSource cars took the top three positions, three different teams finished on the GT podium as the marquee took its first victory of the season.

Bomarito took the checkered flag .685 seconds ahead of John Edwards, who won the pole in the No. 42 TheRaceSite.com Mazda RX-8 he shared with Wayne Nonnamaker. James Gue and Dane Cameron took third in the No. 41 Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8.

Jordan Taylor and Bill Lester finished fourth in the No. 88 Autohaus Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, narrowing the gap in the point standings to one point behind Brumos Racing teammates Andrew Davis and Leh Keen with three races remaining. The championship-leading No. 59 Porsche GT3 was never a factor, going several laps down in the early going with a thrown alternator belt.

The Surprises

Antonio Garcia and Paul Edwards finished a season-best seventh in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Chevrolet/Coyote after Garcia led 15 laps in the early going.

Ryan Dalziel finished fourth for the third consecutive event, moving to the Starworks Motorsport No. 7 Ford/Riley with new co-driver Raphael Matos.

JC France, Terry Borcheller and Joao Barbosa finished fifth in the No. 9 Action Express Racing Porsche/Riley, their best finish since winning at Virginia International Raceway in April.

Dane Cameron and James Gue finished a season-best third in the No. 41 Dempsey Racing/Team Seattle Mazda RX-8.

Boris Said and Eric Curran combined to lead 37 laps in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Corvette and were in contention to give the team its second GT victory of the season before being sidelined after contact with Charles Espenlaub in the No. 40 Visit Florida Mazda RX-8.

The Quotes:

“The car came to us, actually. It kept getting faster and faster. It was a little difficult trying to make a decision but we were still running high-17s on the old tires, so we opted to stay out. We just had a great car and just drove away there at the end.” – Scott Pruett, No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley

“It’s pretty disappointing for us. I think with a half hour or 35 minutes to go, we had a pretty big lead. I think I still had 13 seconds or something like that and then we got that yellow.” – Alex Gurney, No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet/Riley

“To fill the podium with Mazdas is hugely important to the program. A lot of people are asking, ‘What are you doing next year?’ Mazda is here, Mazda is not going anywhere and we’re racing RX-8s in GRANDAM next year.” – Sylvain Tremblay, No. 70 Mazda Speed/Castrol Edge Mazda RX-8

“As the year’s been going for us, this is as good as a win right now. We kind of got ourselves back on track this weekend.” – James Gue, No. 41 Team Seattle/Bass 2 Bill/FishingCapital.com Mazda RX-8

“I looked at the news this morning and they said to stay inside and stay in the air conditioning. Look at what we're doing!” – Boris Said, No. 31 Whelen Engineering Corvette

“You're constantly cornering here, so your body never gets a break. It's compounded in the heat. This track is not very easy on drivers or tires.” – David Donohue, No. 5 Action Express Racing Porsche/Riley

The Next Race:

Round 10 of the 2011 Rolex Series will be the Watkins Glen 200 on Saturday, August13, at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y. Unlike the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen in June on the historic circuit’s 3.4-mile layout, competitors will compete on the 2.45-mile “short course” also used that weekend by the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series. The two-hour race takes the green flag at 6 p.m.

By: grand-am road racing

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Series GRANDAM
Tags bamarito, grand-am, mazda, millville, new jersey motorsports bmw, preutt, rojas, rolex, tremblay