Driver championship comes down to Rolex Series finale in Mexico City ALTON, Va. (November 1, 2005) -- Synergy Racing driver Craig Stanton, of Long Beach, Calif., has recorded more than 20 hours and 700 laps, totaling an excess of 1,800 miles...
Driver championship comes down to Rolex Series finale in Mexico City
ALTON, Va. (November 1, 2005) -- Synergy Racing driver Craig Stanton, of Long Beach, Calif., has recorded more than 20 hours and 700 laps, totaling an excess of 1,800 miles raced during the first 13 rounds of the 2005 Rolex Sports Car Series. But his quest for the GT championship all hinges on the 250 miles of the 14th and final round of the series in Mexico City this weekend.
Just One Point
After leading the championship for most of the season, Stanton enters the finale only one point out of the lead. In Mexico City, it will be all or nothing for the veteran racer. If he finishes ahead of points-leaders Andy Lally and Marc Bunting, he's almost assured the championship. But after a full season of racing, it all comes down to this one final race.
"We are going to go out there and give it all we've got," remarked Stanton, who shares Synergy's No. 80 Porsche GT3 Cup with David Murry, of Atlanta. "We've got to run the perfect race. And, if we must go down, we will do so fighting, kicking and scratching. Synergy Racing is a team that will not give up."
Only two races ago, Stanton enjoyed a comfortable 17-point lead in the GT championship race and was riding an 11-race streak of top-six finishes. But all that came crashing down when he came upon a massive multi-car collision in the esses at the Crown Royal 250 at The Glen. Despite quick maneuvering to get around the mayhem, the Synergy Racing No. 80 Porsche was caught up in it by a spinning Daytona Prototype. Although the Synergy team was able to return the No. 80 machine to the track, the ground lost during the repair process resulted in a 12th-place finish and opened the door for the race-winning duo of Lally and Bunting.
"All parties on both sides want desperately to win. But, it comes down to who wants it more, and I'm not sure anyone wants this more than we do," Stanton said. "I'm up for it. David's up for it. And our amazing team--that has grown stronger and truly works in synergy with each other--they are up for it.
Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez--An Obstacle In Itself
However, there are more obstacles than just Lally and Bunting that Stanton and Murry must overcome on Saturday. At an elevation of 7,350 feet, Mexico City is by far the highest racetrack on which the drivers have ever competed, requiring extra training and hydration.
"You can't just show up in Mexico City and think you're going to do well with the elevation," noted Stanton. "I've really been stepping up my training and doing more mountain biking and other training activities in elevation to get prepared. It's tough to do when you live only four feet above sea level."
Another obstacle for Stanton, as well as most the other drivers in the series, will be the circuit. Very few drivers have previously raced at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, including Stanton. But, that hasn't kept him from turning some laps around the 2.786-mile, 17-turn road course anyway.
"I've done about 400 laps around it on a computer game," admits Stanton. "It's good for helping you learn the track and is mainly helpful during that first practice session when everyone else is really having to feel their way around it."
Nerve Wracking, But Exciting
A season's worth of work coming down to one race might be exciting for race fans, but for the drivers involved its better described as frustrating.
"For the fans that have been following us this season, this is really going to be an exciting race," said Stanton. "But for me, it's very challenging. It's just nerve wracking. Especially since this is the second season in a row I'm in this scenario."
Stanton and Murry have been experiencing a bit of dejà vu this season with the points battle reminiscent of the one he was in last season in the Grand-Am Cup Series. Stanton entered the season finale four points down to Terry Borcheller, and the points lead seemed to change with every lap. When the checkered flag fell, the two were locked in a tie, each with 260 points. Stanton was able to claim the championship in a tiebreaker, as he had the more victories than Borcheller during the season.
However, this weekend Stanton knows he will not have the advantage in a tie since the No. 80 Porsche has yet to score a victory this season, while his rivals in the Pontiac have secured two. If Stanton and Murry finish at least one position ahead of their rivals in first, second, third or fourth place, Stanton secures the championship. But should the No. 80 machine finish fifth or lower, among the field of only eight GT entries, the duo will need at least two positions over Lally and Bunting to avoid a tie and capture the championship.
"I wish there were more GT cars racing this weekend, but this way it is the ultimate stand-off. It will be a battle of two warriors, and we'll see who comes out on top."