News of note 2005-07-14

Record Fields Lead To Close, Competitive Racing in 2005 Rolex Sports Car Series DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 14, 2005) -- A full field of world class drivers and a bumper crop of race cars have contributed to perhaps the most competitive Grand ...

Record Fields Lead To Close, Competitive Racing in 2005 Rolex Sports Car Series

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 14, 2005) -- A full field of world class drivers and a bumper crop of race cars have contributed to perhaps the most competitive Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series season ever with seven of 14 races on the 2005 schedule now in the books.

Race Car Counts On Record Pace

Through the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway late last month, Rolex Series fields have averaged a record 49 entries per race. The average number of starters is 10 more than the 2004 average, and is nine more than the previous record average of 40 starters for a 10-race schedule in 2001. Appropriately, the largest field took to the track at the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, when 62 race cars took the green flag for the prestigious twice-around-the-clock event.

The Daytona Prototype category continues to expand, with an all-time high average of 23 starters per race through the Brumos Porsche 250 and more new race cars turning up throughout the season. The GT class--which was reconfigured to account for all production-based race cars competing in the Rolex Series this year--is averaging 26 starters per race. The Rolex 24 At Daytona featured a Rolex Series-record 29 Daytona Prototypes and 33 GT machines.

Lead Changes Aplenty

The full fields have translated to extremely competitive racing through the first half of the season, as 34 drivers have held the overall lead for at least one lap. Of those drivers, exactly half of them (17) led for the first time in their Daytona Prototype careers this year.

Bolstered by a Rolex Series-record of 44 lead changes in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, there have been a total of 90 lead changes through the first seven races. That translates to an average of more than 12 lead changes per race, and a lead change has taken place on an average of once every 16 laps. There has also been a Rolex Series-record average of eight cars finishing on the lead lap in each race, three more than the previous record average of five established in 2004.

The season has seen a total of 46 different leaders for an average of more than six leaders per race. Interestingly, the car that has led the opening lap in each of the first seven races has not gone on to win the same race at all in 2005, and the first-lap leader has only won the same race four times in 19 events since the start of the 2004 Rolex Series season.

No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley driver Max Angelelli has led the most laps thus far in 2005, heading the field for 293 of a possible 1,410 laps (20.8 percent). However, no driver has led more consecutive laps than the 73 in-a-row that NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series star Tony Stewart led in the No. 20 CITGO Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford during the early morning hours of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Close Competition Remains Hallmark of Rolex Series

In addition to the quantity of lead changes, the competition for race victories has also been close. Three of the six races that finished under green-flag conditions this season had a margin of victory below 3.9 seconds, including the closest finish in Rolex Series history in the Ferrari Maserati 400 at California Speedway in early April, when No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley co-drivers Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz won by a scant 0.096 seconds over Angelelli and Wayne Taylor in the No. 10 SunTrust machine.

The inaugural Road & Track 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was the only race to finish under full-course caution in 2005, and the Rolex 24 At Daytona was the only race where the margin of victory exceeded 15.8 seconds. Angelelli, Taylor and Emmanuel Collard won the season-opener by 11 laps over the No. 4 The Boss Snowplow Pontiac Crawford of Butch Leitzinger, Elliott Forbes-Robinson and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series star Jimmie Johnson.

With a victory by Leitzinger and Forbes-Robinson in the Brumos Porsche 250, the series has now seen five different winners in the first seven races. With seven races still remaining on the schedule, the series appears to be poised to match or exceed the record for different winners in a single season of six established in 2004. The list of 2005 race winners includes the aforementioned No. 01 Lexus Riley, No. 10 Pontiac Riley and No. 4 Pontiac Crawford, as well as the No. 2 CITGO Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford trio of Milka Duno, Jan Lammers and Andy Wallace--which won the 6 Heures du Circuit Mont-Tremblant in May--and the first-year No. 67 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley pairing of Nic Jonsson and owner/driver Tracy Krohn, which led a 1-2 sweep for the team in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen in June.

The Rolex Series returns to action, July 31, for the Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant at Barber Motorsports Park. SPEED Channel will broadcast the race live at 1 p.m. ET.

The Grand American Road Racing Association, which operates and sanctions the Rolex Sports Car Series and the Grand-Am Cup Series, is the premier road racing organization in North America. The 14-race 2005 Rolex Series schedule and the 11-race Grand-Am Cup calendar deliver professional sports car racing to key markets throughout North America in addition to being televised in the United States and Canada on SPEED Channel and distributed globally through ESPN International. With title sponsorship support from Rolex Watch USA, the Rolex Sports Car Series showcases emerging and legendary drivers from around the globe and thoroughbred racing machines from the industry's leading constructors and the world's top automobile manufacturers. Learn more about Grand American at www.grandamerican.com.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Milka Duno , Jan Lammers , Tony Stewart , Scott Pruett , Emmanuel Collard , Wayne Taylor , Jimmie Johnson , Elliott Forbes-Robinson , Max Angelelli , Chip Ganassi , Tracy Krohn , Nic Jonsson
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Krohn Racing