Mid-Ohio: Series round seven preview

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -The second half of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series begins Saturday, June 19 with the EMCO Gears Classic presented by KeyBank at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Round 7 of the 12-race season will be a two-hour, 45-minute...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -The second half of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series begins Saturday, June 19 with the EMCO Gears Classic presented by KeyBank at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Round 7 of the 12-race season will be a two-hour, 45-minute race at the Lexington, Ohio circuit.

Defending race winners Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas (No. 01 BMW/Riley) return, and hold an 18-point lead (190-172) in the Daytona Prototype points standings. Leh Keen (No. 41 Global Diving & Salvage/Team Seattle Mazda RX-8) is seeking his third consecutive Mid-Ohio GT victory, joining James Gue. Keen won with Eric Lux (No. 28 LG Motorsports Corvette) in 2008 and Dirk Werner in 2009.

Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor (No. 10 SunTrust Ford/Dallara) bring plenty of momentum into the EMCO Gears Classic, scoring podium finishes in the last three races. The pair followed a third at Virginia International Raceway by winning at Lime Rock Park - Taylor's first Rolex Series victory - and then finished second in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. They enter the second half of the season third in the championship, 24 points behind Pruett and Rojas but six points behind second-place Ryan Dalziel (No. 8 Corsa Car Care BMW/Riley).

The race will be televised live on SPEED (5 p.m. ET) and broadcast live by the Motor Racing Network. Qualifying will be held at 5 p.m. ET Friday, and will be streamed live on SPEED.com starting at 4:55 p.m. ET. Ohio Teams Look To Rebound In Home State Race Ohio-based Michael Shank Racing and Team Sahlen will be looking to rebound from incidents at Watkins Glen that badly damaged their race cars in time to be ready for their home state race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The Columbus-based Shank team's No. 6 CAP & Associates Ford/Riley was engulfed in flames in the late running of the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. While Michael Valiante escaped without injuries, the race car sustained extensive damage and will be replaced by a Ford/Dallara for Mid-Ohio. Valiante will drive with Brian Frisselle.

Team Sahlen, headquartered in North Canton, withdrew its No. 43 Mazda RX-8 from Watkins Glen competition after Nick Ham spun and tagged the SAFER Barrier during Friday morning's opening practice. The team sent the car to Riley Technologies to repair the frame, and then to SpeedSource for further repairs.

A third Ohio-based team came through Watkins Glen without significant damage. Doran Racing, located in Cincinnati, fields a car for Memo Gidley and rookie Dion von Moltke (No. 77 McDonald's/South African Airways/PR Newswire Ford/Dallara) that has five top-10 finishes in six races, with a best finish of fourth at Barber Motorsports Park.

Pruett, Rojas Back On Track, Return To Mid-Ohio With 18-Point Lead Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas (No. 01 TELMEX BMW Riley) are taking a cautious approach to the second half of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season despite dominating the opening half of the campaign.

"As soon as you start thinking about a championship that is the time you lose it," said Pruett, who joined Rojas in winning four of the opening six races. "We need to stay focused at every race."

Pruett and Rojas enter the second half of the season with an 18-point lead (190-172) over Ryan Dalziel (No. 8 Corsa Car Care BMW Riley), looking for their second Daytona Prototype title in three years.

The TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates drivers finished second in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona and then won at Homestead, Barber and Virginia. They recovered from a last-place finish following a first-lap incident in the Memorial Day Classic at Lime Rock Park by winning the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen.

"It's too early to take anything for granted," Rojas said. "Lime Rock taught us that it's too early for us to talk about winning the championship. We entered that race with a very strong lead, and nearly lost it on the first lap. We cannot take anything for granted. We have to do the best we can and keep pushing to the end."

Pruett also won the 2004 edition of the Daytona Prototype race at Mid-Ohio with Max Papis.

Which GT Team Can Stop SpeedSource, TRG's Dominance?

Through six Rolex Series GT races, only two teams have won - SpeedSource and TRG.

SpeedSource has won four of those races, and all three of the team's cars have won. The championship is led by Jeff Segal and Emil Assentato (No. 69 FXDD Mazda RX-8), who hold the points lead by one (176-175) over Sylvain Tremblay and Jonathan Bomarito (No. 70 Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8). Also with a win this season are Adam Christodoulou and John Edwards (No. 68 Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development Mazda RX-8).

So which team can stop SpeedSource? Perhaps another Mazda team; Mazda is leading the manufacturer standings in a bid for its first series championship.

Leh Keen and James Gue (No. 41 Global Diving & Salvage/Team Seattle Mazda RX-8) are coming off their second consecutive and third podium of the 2010 season. The only drivers to give Dempsey Racing a podium finish, Keen and Gue are fourth in points.

While they haven't won a race this season, Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis (No. 57 BryanMark Financial/Vin Solutions Camaro) are fighting hard at fifth in points and earned a best finish of second this season. However, Liddell and Davis have finished second each of the past two years at Mid-Ohio.

Liddell won at the track in 2006 with Wolf Henzler.

Other former GT winners are Mid-Ohio that are entered include Eric Lux and Kelly Collins (No. 28 LG Motorsports Corvette), Bill Auberlen (No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW M6) and Wayne Nonnamaker (No. 42 TheRaceSite.com Mazda RX-8).

Donohue Hits Century Mark

David Donohue (No. 59 Brumos.com Porsche Riley) began his racing career long before the first Rolex Sports Car Series event Feb. 6, 2000, the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

However, that event kick-started a career that will reach 100 Rolex Series races this weekend at Mid-Ohio. Donohue competed in the Rolex 24 in the GTO class, finishing third, and has competed in all 98 Daytona Prototype races to date. During that span, he has racked up four Daytona Prototype victories, including the 2009 Rolex 24 with current co-driver and Rolex Series starts leader, Darren Law, and 39 top fives.

The pair enter Mid-Ohio sixth in points and looking for their first victory of 2010. Donohue, who holds the qualifying record for a Daytona Prototype, has finished second twice at Mid-Ohio, most recently in 2008.

-source: nascar grandam

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Ryan Dalziel , Memo Gidley , Max Papis , Scott Pruett , Robin Liddell , Bill Auberlen , Michael Valiante , Emil Assentato , Kelly Collins , Wayne Nonnamaker , Darren Law , David Donohue , Max Angelelli , James Gue , Memo Rojas , Andrew Davis , Jonathan Bomarito , Chip Ganassi , Jeff Segal , Nick Ham , Wolf Henzler , Lehman Keen , Brian Frisselle , Eric Lux , Michael Shank , John Edwards , Felix Sabates , Dion von Moltke , Ricky Taylor , Adam Christodoulou
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , LG Motorsports , Doran Racing , Team Sahlen , SpeedSource , Michael Shank Racing