Fittipaldi, Luhr Co-Drive Crown Royal Special Reserve Daytona Prototype To Runner-Up Finish at Homestead Grand American Rolex Series Race HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Saturday, March 25, 2006) Christian Fittipaldi and Lucas Luhr co-drove the ...
Fittipaldi, Luhr Co-Drive Crown Royal Special Reserve Daytona Prototype To Runner-Up Finish at Homestead Grand American Rolex Series Race
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Saturday, March 25, 2006) Christian Fittipaldi and Lucas Luhr co-drove the #39 Crown Royal Special Reserve/Cheever Racing Porsche Crawford to a second-place finish in tonight's Grand Prix of Miami Grand American Rolex Series sports car race at Homestead Miami Speedway.
Fittipaldi, the Brazilian who resides in nearby Miami, started the Cheever Racing Daytona Prototype from the outside-front-row position he earned in qualifying Friday night. He took the lead from the polesitting and eventual race-winning Alex Job Racing Porsche on the very tour of the 2.3-mile circuit, led the first 15 laps, and finished a solid first stint before turning the car over to Luhr, the German Porsche factory driver who replaced Fittipaldi's regular teammate Eddie Cheever, Jr., here this weekend while the team owner focused on driving the Cheever Racing IRL IndyCar Series entry in Sunday's Indy 300. Fittipaldi fell back to third place during his first stint as an oversteer condition developed by Lap 13 of tonight's 107-lap event. He pitted under yellow on Lap 35 for tires, fuel and adjustments while handing the car over to Luhr for the remainder of the race.
Luhr resumed in the third position and had the Crown Royal car in second, back behind the polesitting Porsche, by Lap 53. Another yellow on Lap 58 enabled Luhr to pit for fuel that would carry him to the end of the race. He resumed in 11th place, but gradually made his way toward the front, moving back into the top 10 by Lap 65, ninth on the very next lap, and up to third by Lap 77. He moved into second with a pass of Scott Pruett in the Ganassi Racing Lexus on a Lap-96 restart, but lost the position back to Pruett when he got held up by a slower car on a Lap-99 restart. Luhr chased Pruett the rest of the way, and got by the 2004 series champion with a determined pass on the last lap of the race to grab the runner-up spot.
The second-place finish comes in just the third start for Cheever Racing in its inaugural Grand American Rolex Series season. The team opened with an oftentimes dominating run at the Daytona 24-hour last month, followed that up with a sixth-place finish two weeks later in Mexico City, and vaulted into second place in the season standings with tonight's finish.
Next on the schedule is the Grand Prix of Long Beach April 7-8 on the seaside street course in Southern California.
"That was a terrific finish to a great weekend for the Crown Royal team. I'm happy about what it means to our position in the championship. The 23 (race-winning Porsche) was just a little stronger all weekend, but we were strong, too, and were able to go out and earn ourselves a solid, second-place finish. Everybody did a fanstastic job this weekend to make our race car really fun to drive. I got a really good start. We came down the front straight for the green flag. The other Porsche was in second gear. I was in first gear, and I caught it just right and was able to get past him by the end of the straight. We got a little loose during my stint, but we made some adjustments to fix the problem, and Lucas was able to get the most out of it after that. This is great for the Cheever team, for Crown Royal, for everybody involved with this program."
"The car was just great the whole weekend. I felt really comfortable in the car the whole time. I felt really comfortable working with the whole team. Everybody really made me feel like this was not my first time working with them. It was like I've been racing with them for a long time. We were able to work all the way up to second place with about 15 minutes to go, but then I got held up on the restart by (Max) Angelelli. I had to brake to keep from hitting him, and we fell back to third. I was really mad about that. I kept trying to get by Scott (Pruett), and when I saw the white flag, I said 'now it's payback time.' There was not much of an opening. I had to go off into the grass to make the pass. It was a great finish. It was really fair, close, hard racing. I enjoyed the experience very much."