Max Angelelli managed to hold off numerous attempts by Scott Pruett to win Saturday’s Canadian Tire 200 at Watkins Glen International in the fastest race average speed in the history of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series.
Ricky Taylor led the opening 33 laps in the No. 10 SunTrust Chevrolet/Dallara before turning the car over to Angelelli, who went on to lead 44 of the final 45 laps, averaging 122.308 mph on the Watkins Glen 2.45-mile short course. It was their third victory of the season and second at Watkins Glen, coming off June’s Sahlen’s Six Hours on the 3.4-mile course.
Angelelli took the checkered flag 2.517 seconds ahead of Pruett, cutting the lead in the Daytona Prototype points to 26 points (327-301) over No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley drivers Pruett and Memo Rojas with only two races remaining.
Ryan Dalziel and Alex Popow finished third in the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Ford/Riley. Bill Lester and Jordan Taylor regained the lead in the production-based GT championship standings with a second place finish in the No. 88 Autohaus Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. Andrew Davis and Leh Keen entered the race with a one-point lead, but finished seventh in the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup and are now seven points behind (272-265).
Spencer Pumpelly and Steven Bertheau managed to coax just enough fuel out of TRG’s No. 67 Sargent & Lundy Porsche 911 GT3 to take the GT victory in a thrilling finish. Pumpelly led the final six circuits as the lead changed hands five times in the final hour, taking the checkered flag 2.12 seconds ahead of Taylor. Craig Stanton and John Potter took third in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche GT3.
The race was slowed by one caution flag, coming early in the race when Jon Fogarty clipped a lapped car in Turn 11 only nine laps into the race. Fogarty and Alex Gurney, drivers of the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet/Riley, fell from third to sixth in the DP standings. The Surprises Alex Popow started ninth in the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Ford/Riley and worked his way up to second before turning the car over to Ryan Dalziel – who finished third to give first-year driver Popow his first career podium.
Burt Frisselle, running a partial schedule with Mark Wilkins in the No. 61 GAMMA 88 BMW/Riley, led 22 laps en route to a solid fourth-place finish for the lone Canada-based Rolex Series team.
Joey Logano set fast time in GT qualifying in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Corvette before losing the pole due to a crash on the following lap. After starting from the back, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racer worked his way through the pack before falling back again due to a spin.
Running in his first sports car race, NASCAR regular David Ragan qualified eighth and ran a solid third for most of his stint and pitted while running second in the No. 11 TPN Racing/Blackforest Mustang.
Andrew Davis and Leh Keen entered the race with the GT points lead and both drivers led laps, but a late pit stop for fuel resulted in a seventh-place finish. The Quotes: “I had close calls a couple of times. Traffic was very unpredictable, and I had to adjust going through it. Scott’s a master in traffic.” – Max Angelelli, No. 10 SunTrust Chevrolet/Dallara
“Today was really just perfect. We unloaded struggling, but made the car better on Friday. It’s much easier when you can control the race from the front and control your gap.” – Ricky Taylor, No. 10 SunTrust Chevrolet/Dallara
“We were knocking on the back door several times, but we just didn’t have enough to get around.” – Scott Pruett, No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley
“We’re happy with second at this point in the championship. We did our best today. It was a tough race for me. There was a lot happening at the beginning of the race, and I was having a problem with the brake bias. I nearly lost it quite a few times during the first couple of laps.” – Memo Rojas, No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley
“Splitting Enzo (Potolicchio) and I up really helps. Now we can drive the car. Up until now, we didn’t have the experience to set up the car. Now, running with Ryan (Dalziel), I still get seat time but I know the car will have a good setup. I can go out and drive it. Tonight the car is awesome and I was just out there going at it.” – Alex Popow, No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Ford/Riley “It’s a little weird to be here (in the pits) with the cars still out there. I feel like I did something wrong.” – David Ragan, No. 11 TPN Racing/Blackforest Ford Mustang GT, running his first sports car race
The Next Race: The Rolex Series will be in action next Saturday with the Montreal 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on August 20, Round 11 of the 2011 season. This will be the Rolex Series’ fifth visit to the famed island circuit.