By Grand-Am Rolex Series
Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas ended a three-race losing streak Saturday, winning the Rolex Sports Car Series 250 Driven by VISITFLORIDA.COM, GRAND-AM’s return to historic Road America. It was the fourth victory of the season for the drivers of the No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.
Pruett took the checkered flag 11.738 seconds ahead of Alex Gurney, who shared the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet/Riley with Jon Fogarty. Pruett led the final 20 of 46 circuits on the 4.048-mile circuit for his 36th career Rolex Series victory.
Max Angelelli survived a last-lap battle with Ryan Dalziel to finish third – ending a two-race winning streak for the No. 10 SunTrust Chevrolet/Riley started on the pole by Ricky Taylor. Dalziel and Mike Forest held on for fourth in the No. 8 Grout Shield Ford/Riley, followed by John Pew and Ozz Negri in the No. 60 Crown Royal XR Ford/Riley.
The GT battle saw three different leaders on the final lap. Eric Curran prevailed in the wild last-lap battle, giving Marsh Racing its first Rolex Series GT victory in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Corvette started by John Heinricy.
Jordan Taylor took the white flag in the GT lead, but ran out of fuel in the No. 88 Autohaus Motorsport Chevrolet Camaro started by Bill Lester. That gave the GT lead to Spencer Pumpelly – who shared the No. 67 TRG Porsche with Steven Bertheau – but he also ran low on fuel. Curran –
who had been pressuring Pumpelly – took over the lead, and managed to hold off John Edwards in the No. 42 Team Sahlen’s Mazda RX-8 started from the pole by Wayne Nonnamaker.
Pumpelly managed to hold on for third, followed by the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche GT3 of Craig Stanton and John Potter, Taylor managed to place fifth in the No. 88 Autohaus Motorsport Chevrolet Camaro. Taylor and co-driver Bill Lester extended their lead in the standings to four points over sixth-place finishers Leh Keen and Andrew Davis, drivers of the No. 59 Brumos Porsche GT3.
The race featured a 51-minute caution resulting from an accident five laps into the race involving Gunter Schaldach and Joe Foster. Schaldach lost the brakes in the No. 07 The Cool TV/Mobil 1 Chevrolet Camaro, ran into the back of Joe Foster’s No. 40 Visit Florida/Modspace Mazda RX-8, went through the gravel trap in Turn 1 and catapulted the catch fence. He walked away uninjured.
Foster also spun through the gravel and tagged the tire barrier. He was awake and alert, and later transported to Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital in Milwaukee, Wis., for further evaluation
John Heinricy scored his first Rolex Series victory, filling in for Boris Said with Marsh Racing, and qualified fourth in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Corvette co-driven by Eric Curran. Said was at Infineon Raceway for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Wayne Nonnamaker gave Team Sahlen its first Rolex Series GT pole. It was his first pole since taking SGS honors at Daytona International Speedway in 2004, and he went on to win the Brumos Porsche 250 in a solo drive. Saturday, Nonnamaker finished second, co-driving with John Edwards for the first time.
Henri Richard led a lap in the No. 77 Office Deport Ford/Dallara co-driven by Brian Frisselle. He finished ninth. It was the first time Doran Racing did not win a Rolex Series race at Road America; they had won the SR class race in 2000 and SRP race in 2001.
Billy Johnson was named late Friday afternoon to replace Carl Edwards in Roush Racing’s No. 60 Fastenal Ford Mustang after the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge regular led NASCAR Nationwide Series opening practice. Johnson then joined Jack Roush Jr. in finishing second in the Road America 200 in the No. 61 Roush Performance Ford Mustang Boss 302R, moving up to second in the Grand Sport points.
“We were really able to take advantage of our knowhow and experience. The car was junk when I went out in warm-up and it was miserable to drive. We talked about our options, and we came up with the right changes.” Scott Pruett, No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley
“Today was a strange race for everybody, with the long yellow flag. We weren’t really happy with the car before the race and thought we lost our way, but we found a few issues and made some radical decisions. We didn’t know what to expect for the race, but the car was really good. We did our long stop early on, and that helped us later in the race.” Memo Rojas, No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley
“When I took the checkered flag, I didn’t even realize that we won – I wasn’t sure if they were saying we finished fourth or first. We’ve had poles and we’ve led laps, but we’ve never ended up winning before. The Whelen Engineering guys needed a great result. It’s interesting to win without my main co-driver here (Boris Said).” Eric Curran, No. 31 Whelen Engineering Corvette
“I lost my brakes going into one. I hit the brake pedal twice and nothing happened. Then I hit Joe Foster. The hood flipped up, so I couldn’t see anything. I was hoping the sand would slow me down – but it didn’t feel like it was slowing me down. I could see the black tires coming, and when I hit, it didn’t feel so bad. But I kept moving. I must have gone over the wall, and it flipped a few times in the air. I just didn’t want to land upside down, and I landed flat. It looked a lot worse than it was. I immediately told the team I was OK.” Gunter Schaldach, No. 07 The Cool TV/Mobil 1 Chevrolet Camaro
The Next Race:
Round eight of the 2011 Rolex Series will be the Continental Tire Festival of Speed Powered by Mazda on Saturday, July 9, GRAND-AM’s return to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca near Monterey, Calif.
The two-hour, 45-minute event will mark the Rolex Series’ sixth visit to the 2.238-mile circuit, but first since 2009.
Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty won the 2009 event for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, with Sylvain Tremblay and Nick Ham taking GT honors in a SpeedSource Mazda RX-8. Scott Pruett leads all competitors with four podium finishes, including a win in 2005 and a pair of second-place finishes