Homestead: Round three preview

Grand-Am Rolex Series Linder Industrial Grand Prix of Miami is "Anybody's Race" DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 20, 2007) -- Grand-Am recently unveiled a new tagline that definitely applies to this Saturday's Rolex Sports Car Series presented by...

Grand-Am Rolex Series Linder Industrial Grand Prix of Miami is "Anybody's Race"

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 20, 2007) -- Grand-Am recently unveiled a new tagline that definitely applies to this Saturday's Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami (SPEED, Live, 2 p.m. ET) and all other races on the 2007 calendar: "It's Anybody's Race."

Heading into Round 3 of the 14-race Daytona Prototype season at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the top nine drivers are separated by just 13 points, and a few that are a little further back have plenty of time--and have shown to be plenty competitive--to put together a charge to the championship.

As he has done since his victory in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, 2004 Daytona Prototype co-champion Scott Pruett continues to lead the 2007 driver standings. It is a familiar position for Pruett, although it is the first time in his Rolex Series career that he has been in sole possession of the points lead. After co-driving to the Rolex 24 victory with popular NASCAR rookie Juan Pablo Montoya and Mexican rising star Salvador Duran, Pruett shared the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley with his co-driver for the remainder of the season, Memo Rojas.

Rojas put the car third on the starting grid and he and Pruett combined to finish fourth in the race, allowing Pruett to maintain his position atop the driver standings. However, Pruett's points lead is anything but secure heading to South Florida.

Just three points behind Pruett (63-60) are the potent combination of Max Angelelli and Jan Magnussen in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley. Angelelli--the 2005 Daytona Prototype co-champion--and Magnussen have been consistent front-runners whenever they share the No. 10 machine, as evidenced by the fact that the duo makes it way to Homestead riding a streak of nine consecutive top-five performances together dating to last season, including a pair of third-place results to open the 2007 campaign.

Eleven points behind Pruett is a four-way tie that includes No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley co-drivers Colin Braun and Max Papis--with whom Pruett co-drove to the 2004 title--as well as No. 11 CITGO/SAMAX Pontiac Riley teammates Patrick Carpentier and Milka Duno. Braun will be making his first start at Homestead-Miami Speedway since the 2005 season, while Papis is looking to make a little magic near his adopted hometown of Miami Beach. Papis and Braun will also be looking to break through with their first victory of the season after a "near miss" in Mexico.

There are strong South Florida ties on the No. 11 team as well. SAMAX is based in West Palm Beach, and the Venezuela-born Duno also makes her home in Miami. Two of Duno's three career Rolex Series victories came on the 2.3-mile circuit at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and while this will be Carpentier's first Daytona Prototype event in Homestead, he brings experience from Indy Racing League IndyCar Series and Champ Car World Series events on the oval course.

Canadian Mark Wilkins is just two points behind the drivers in the No. 10 and No. 11 Daytona Prototypes and will welcome Burt Frisselle back to the No. 61 Exchange Traded Gold/AIM Autosport Lexus Riley again this weekend after sharing the ride with Brian Frisselle in Mexico City. Both 2007 races for the new team have seen the No. 61 machine charge from deep in the field to record top-seven results, proving that the car is plenty fast to challenge at the front.

Just behind the top nine drivers are a host of proven front-runners. Defending Daytona Prototype champion Jorg Bergmeister will once again share the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford with defending race-winner Patrick Long. Last year, Long and then-co-driver Mike Rockenfeller gave the Porsche Crawford its maiden win in the Rolex Series, and it would certainly come as no surprise if Long and Bergmeister brought the team a repeat Homestead victory.

While Long and Bergmeister look to drive the No. 23 to victory for the second consecutive time in Homestead, No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley co-drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty look to take their second Rolex Series victory in-a-row after a long-awaited triumph in Mexico City earlier this month. The No. 99 has always been lightning-quick in the hands of Gurney and Fogarty, and a run of victories now that they've broken through is a possibility.

The Mexico City round earlier this month showcased a few teams that may be poised for a breakthrough of their own. The No. 05 Luggage Express Team Sigalsport BMW Riley led the first day of practice in the hands of co-drivers Bill Auberlen and Matthew Alhadeff and was running inside the top five before contact from behind by Magnussen dropped the car well back in the order. Likewise, the No. 39 Crown Royal Special Reserve/Cheever Racing Porsche Fabcar of Christian Fittipaldi and Harrison Brix was a front-runner before a mechanical failure ended the team's bid, while David Donohue and Darren Law have been quick in both races this season in the No. 58 Red Bull/Brumos Racing Porsche Riley and came home sixth from Mexico.

The deep and talented field also includes Randy Ruhlman and Jupiter, Fla. resident Shane Lewis in the No. 3 Preformed Line Products/TrueChoice Motorsports Lexus Riley, the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Lexus Riley of Henri Zogaib and Ian James, Roger Schramm and Bill Lester in the No. 12 RVO Motorsports Pontiac Riley, Chris and Rob Dyson in the No. 16 Thetford/Norcold Porsche Crawford for Howard Motorsports, the No. 19 Z-Line Designs/Mission Residential/Make-A-Wish Ford Crawford of Rob Finlay and Michael Valiante, Floridians Hurley Haywood and JC France in the No. 59 Brumos Porsche/Kendall Porsche Riley, Mark Patterson and South Florida resident Oswaldo Negri in the No. 60 Nettapp/TSP/Michael Shank Racing Lexus Riley, Tracy Krohn and Nic Jonsson in the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley, Memo Gidley and Jorge Goeters in the No. 77 Kodak Feeds The Need/Doran Racing Ford Doran and Jim Matthews and Marc Goossens sharing the No. 91 Riley-Matthews Motorsports Pontiac Riley.

The GT field is also extremely impressive with class points leaders Sylvain Tremblay and Nick Ham in the No. 70 Mazda/Mazdaspeed RX-8 headlining the class for the Sunrise, Fla.-based SpeedSource team's "hometown" race. Ham started the Mexico City race from the class pole position and combined with Tremblay to bring the Mazda RX-8 its first GT class victory. Last year, Tremblay and David Haskell drove the car to its best result of the year with a second-place performance in Homestead, and buoyed by its recent triumph in Mexico, the No. 70 machine could pick up a second straight victory this weekend.

Tremblay and Ham lead by seven points over a four-way tie consisting of their teammates in the No. 69 FXDD Mazda RX-8, Emil Assentato and Nick Longhi and No. 22 Gatorade/TodayMD.com Porsche GT3 co-drivers Carlos de Quesada and Jean-Francois Dumoulin. De Quesada and Dumoulin are still riding the wave of their class victory in the 2007 Rolex 24, while Assentato and Longhi are reaping the benefits of a solid RX-8 package.

Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards return to Homestead as the defending GT class winners and will lead a two-car effort for Banner Racing. Collins and Edwards will share the No. 07 Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R with team owner Leighton Reese and Boca Raton's Tim Lewis Jr. co-driving the No. 06 Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R.

Other strong candidates to win include either of the Tafel Racing entries, with Nathan Swartzbaugh and Andrew Davis in the team's No. 72 North South Machinery/ANCA/Dunkel Bros/Tornos Porsche GT3 and Wolf Henzler and Eric Lux in the No. 74 Rembrandt Charms Porsche GT3, the Farnbacher Loles Motorsports entries for Dominik Farnbacher and Leh Keen in the No. 85 Shoes for Crews/Recaro Porsche GT3 and Dirk Werner and Bryce Miller in the No. 87 Marquis Jet/IPC/Recaro Porsche GT3, and the two-car TRG program for Andy Lally and RJ Valentine in the No. 66 CRG/Maxter/Rotax/MBA/NFP/F1Air Porsche GT3 and Scott Tucker and Ed Zabinski in the No. 67 Specialty Medical Supplies/500 Fast Cash Porsche GT3.

On-track activities get underway for the Rolex Series with practice sessions on Thursday afternoon, followed by practice and qualifying on Friday. The Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami will take the green flag at 2:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 24 with a scheduled distance of 400 km or 250 miles (109 laps) and a two-hour and 30-minute time limit.

SPEED will provide live television coverage of the Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET. Live coverage from throughout the weekend, including Live Timing & Scoring data from all sessions and an audio webcast of the race will also be available on the official web site of Grand-Am, www.grand-am.com.

***

Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami

Fast Facts

Who: Grand American Road Racing Association

What: Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve

Where: Homestead-Miami Speedway -- Homestead, Fla.

When: Saturday, March 24, 2007 -- 2:00 p.m. ET

TV: SPEED, Live, 2:00 p.m. ET

***

<pre> Schedule of Events: (All times local, Eastern Time)

Thursday, March 22 2:00 PM - 2:45 PM Practice -- Rolex Series GT 2:45 PM - 3:45 PM Practice -- Rolex Series 3:45 PM - 4:30 PM Practice -- Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes

Friday, March 23 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM Practice -- Rolex Series 2:20 PM - 2:40 PM Qualifying -- Rolex Series GT 2:55 PM - 3:10 PM Qualifying -- Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes

Saturday, March 24 10:10 AM - 10:25 AM Final Practice -- Rolex Series 10:55 AM Driver Autograph Session 1:45 PM Rolex Series pre-race activities 2:00 PM START -- Grand Prix of Miami (400k/109-laps/2-hour 30 minute time limit)

TIME CERTAIN SCHEDULE -- All sessions to start and finish as shown </pre> EVENT WEBSITES

Live Timing & Scoring is available for all Rolex Series practices, qualifying sessions and races on the official Grand-Am website -- www.grand-am.com.

A live audio webcast in English and Spanish is available at www.grand-am.com.

-credit: garra

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Doran Racing , SpeedSource , Michael Shank Racing