Laguna Seca: Lexus race report

GANASSI, SHANK TEAMS GIVE LEXUS TWO ON THE PODIUM AT ROAD AND TRACK 250 MONTEREY, Calif. (May 20, 2007) -- As the race-leading Porsche was on the verge of running out of fuel, only a late-race full course caution could keep Scott Pruett and the...

GANASSI, SHANK TEAMS GIVE LEXUS TWO ON THE PODIUM AT ROAD AND TRACK 250

MONTEREY, Calif. (May 20, 2007) -- As the race-leading Porsche was on the verge of running out of fuel, only a late-race full course caution could keep Scott Pruett and the Chip Ganassi Racing team away from the squad's second victory of the season as Pruett and fellow Lexus-powered driver Oswaldo Negri placed second and third in today's Road and Track 250 Rolex Sports Car Series event at Laguna Seca Raceway.Pruett's Lexus closed on the leading Porsche in an attempt to make a pass for the lead with just over four minutes remaining of the two-hour, 30-minute event when the full-course yellow waived, allowing the Porsche to complete the final two laps under caution with just enough fuel to cross the finish line. While the victory eluded Pruett and co-driver Memo Rojas, both Pruett and the Ganassi team re-took the points lead in the Driver's and Team championships.

Just behind the two leaders was Negri in the #60 Michael Shank Racing (MSR) Lexus. After a 12th-place start, Negri and teammate Mark Patterson consistently moved up through the field to give the team its first podium finish since winning last season's finale at Salt Lake City.

Three of the remaining Lexus-powered entries finished in the top-11 today, as Ian James and John Pew combined to place seventh in the #6 MSR entry; Burt Frisselle and Mark Wilkins teamed for a ninth-place finish in the AIM Autosport #61 Exchange Traded Gold Lexus-Riley, and Shane Lewis and Randy Ruhlman placed 11th -- the best finish of the season for Southard Motorsports' #3 PLP Lexus-Riley. Unfortunately, after a second consecutive top-10 in qualifying, the #19 Make-A-Wish Lexus-Riley driven by Rob Finlay and Michael Valiante retired early after an off-course excursion while the car was running in the top-five.

The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series continues at Watkins Glen on Sat., June 9 with the Sahlens Six Hours of The Glen. SPEED will provide live coverage in two separate segments beginning at 11 a.m.

NOTES:

- With today's second-place finish, Scott Pruett moves back into the series points lead by five points over Max Angelelli. For Pruett, today's finish is his 25th top-three, and his 42nd top-10 finish in 45 career Daytona Prototype starts.

- The first-year AIM Autorsport entry driven by Burt Frisselle and Mark Wilkins earned its fourth top-10 finish in five races this year with a ninth after running as high as third during the event.

- With a third by Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson; and a seventh by Ian James and John Pew, today's finish was the best overall showing by Michael Shank Racing this season. For Pew, it was just his second-ever Daytona Prototype event and the first for him with MSR. In addition to his seventh today, James also registered a sixth in the last race at VIR.

Quotes:

Scott Pruett: #01 Telmex Lexus-Riley: "I'm excited for the team, but I'm disappointed for the fans. I hate to see any race finish under yellow. The Telmex car ran well and Lexus gave us another good engine. We never missed a beat today. I knew the #23 was low on fuel, so we were keeping the pressure on him, but I didn't know he was that low on fuel."

Oswaldo Negri, #60 Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley: "This podium is for Mark (Patterson) and for all the effort and support he puts into this team. He never stops working and it pays off when we have days like we did today. The car was great all weekend from the moment we got on track, so I'm happy to get a result as good as our car was. We are staying focused on this championship and days like this are what we need as the season goes on. We should be here (the podium) more often."

Mark Patterson, #60 Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley: "That was a really good car. Even though it had a full fuel load, I could attack as if we were in qualifying trim and I felt really confident with it."

Ian James, #6 Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley: "We lost a lot of grip with the damage to the wing (after getting hit on the first lap), and that's pretty important around here, but the car was still pretty quick. John (Pew) did a good job today and I was able to keep making up ground even though we got bumped around a lot."

John Pew, #6 Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley: "I had fun out there. The car didn't handle that well, but I had some good battles going on and, of course, Ian really drove the wheels off the thing. I just wanted to get some seat time and get as comfortable as possible this weekend and I was able to do that no problem. This is a great team, and I'm looking forward to the Glen in a few weeks' time."

Mark Wilkins, #61 Exchange Traded Gold Lexus-Riley: "I struggled with front-end grip, being able to get the car in on the entry to the apex so I could get back to throttle early enough. Here [at Laguna Seca] it's all momentum, so you need to get on the throttle earlier everywhere. It seemed like whatever change I made, it just didn't give me what I was looking for in the front. The guys did a great job, but it wasn't a great result. I need to look at the data, look at my driving and see what we missed."

Burt Frisselle, #61 Exchange Traded Gold Lexus-Riley: "It's another top-10 for a young team. Every time, we're moving forward. Running up front for a long time in the top-five was just great; it just shows the field we're coming. Ian [Willis] and Craig [English, the team engineers] have their heads wrapped around this car now. I think the next step for us is the podium. As the stint went on, the car just got better and better. They gave me a great amount of adjustability with the roll bars throughout my stint, so as the track changed, I was able to adjust the car to it. It makes my job a lot easier when you have the support that these guys provide."

-credit: toyota/lexus

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Shane Lewis , Scott Pruett , Michael Valiante , Randy Ruhlman , Ian James , Max Angelelli , Memo Rojas , Burt Frisselle , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Chip Ganassi , Mark Wilkins , John Pew , Mark Patterson , Rob Finlay , Michael Shank
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Michael Shank Racing