Phoenix: Thursday practice report

Angelelli Tops Time Charts in GAINSCO Grand Prix Practice at Phoenix PHOENIX, Ariz. (May 11, 2006) -- Fresh off his first victory of the 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve season in last...

Angelelli Tops Time Charts in GAINSCO Grand Prix Practice at Phoenix

PHOENIX, Ariz. (May 11, 2006) -- Fresh off his first victory of the 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve season in last weekend's Road & Track 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, defending Daytona Prototype co-champion Max Angelelli returned to the top of the charts in practice for Saturday's GAINSCO Grand Prix at Phoenix International Raceway (SPEED, May 14, 3:00 p.m. ET).

Driving the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley, Angelelli logged a best lap at 57.729 sec. (94.164 mph) in the first of the day's two practice sessions to pace the field. The Italian moved back into the top 10 in the championship standings with the victory last weekend alongside co-driver Jan Magnussen--with whom he is also sharing the No. 10 machine in Phoenix--and Angelelli is looking to climb even higher in the standings at the GAINSCO Grand Prix.

"We keep working with the car," Angelelli said. "We had quite a nice start of the week using what we learned in our testing during last month here at Phoenix. It looks pretty good for the race, but as everyone can see, if you're half a tenth quicker, you can gain four or five positions. It's going to be tough."

Oswaldo Negri Jr. turned in the day's second-fastest time with a lap at 57.881 sec. (93.917 mph) aboard the No. 60 Flight Options/Nett App Lexus Riley for Michael Shank Racing. Negri is no stranger to the top of the scoring monitors, as he put the No. 60 machine on the outside of the front row at last weekend's Road & Track 250. He and co-driver Mark Patterson are hoping Thursday's times will translate to a victory on Saturday night.

"Well, of course, we want to be fastest, but second quick is a good start," said Negri. "This is just one of the Michael Shank Racing deals where the Flight Options car is fast right off the trailer, but you can never rest in racing, so we kept trying new things for the race. The Lexus guys and everyone on the team is doing a great job. Mark is driving really well, and I'm proud to have him as my teammate."

Third-quickest on the day--and quickest overall in the evening practice session--was Daytona Prototype points leader Jorg Bergmeister. The German posted a best time of 57.917 sec. (93.858 mph) in the No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Riley that he is sharing with Colin Braun. In addition to growing his two-point advantage over No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford co-drivers Mike Rockenfeller and Patrick Long (108-106), Bergmeister is also looking to successfully defend his Phoenix victory from 2005.

"We're really pleased with the car," Bergmeister said. "Setup-wise, we're really working in the right direction. This is one of the first times that we've been quickest in a session, and now it's up to Colin to have a good qualifying race tomorrow. Our podium finish in Laguna Seca has stepped-up our year after a couple of tough races and qualifying races, and now we're working in the right direction. I was with Christian (Fittipaldi) last year at this race, and he did a really good job at the end. I hope we can do it again here with Colin. It's going to be more difficult with the GT class running at the same time. It will be really interesting."

Fourth-fastest on the day was Adrian Fernandez in the No. 12 Lowe's Fernandez Racing Pontiac Riley with a lap at 58.001 sec. (93.723 mph). The Scottsdale resident is looking for his first career Rolex Series victory this weekend alongside Brazilian co-driver Mario Haberfeld. Ryan Dalziel filled out the top five with a lap at 58.038 sec. (93.663 mph) in the No. 89 Playboy/Vonage/Palms Casino Pontiac Riley he shares with Pacific Coast Motorsports teammate Alex Figge. The top 15 cars turned laps within one second of the day's quickest time.

COLLINS TOPS GT CHARTS IN DEFENDING RACE-WINNING MACHINE

Kelly Collins posted a lap time of 1:03.826 (85.169 mph) in the No. 64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R in the Thursday evening practice session at Phoenix International Raceway, the fastest GT-class lap of the day in the machine that claimed the class victory at PIR last September.

Collins posted the time early in the hour-long session, and he and co-driver Paul Edwards come into the weekend riding a four-race streak of top-four finishes. With 203 championship points, the duo is tied for fifth in the current standings, just 12 points in arrears of TRG teammates Andy Lally and Marc Bunting in the No. 65 TRG/F1 Air Pontiac GTO.R.

"It was very slippery throughout the day and were constantly making changes on the car," said Collins. "I'm surprised we were as quick as we were. I was pushing really hard because I didn't think that we were able to keep up."

Edwards drove to victory with Jan Magnussen in the No. 64 machine at PIR in a stand-alone GT race last September, winning by 36.036 seconds over Collins and Tom Milner in the No. 21 BMW Team PTG M3.

Robin Liddell was second-fastest in the No. 72 NEC Porsche GT3 with a lap time of 1:03.857 (85.128 mph) in the first of two practice sessions. Liddell and co-driver Wolf Henzler claimed the first-ever class win for Tafel Racing last weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and are tied for third in the current standings with 211 points.

"We're coming into this weekend obviously very excited," said Liddell. "We were struggling a little bit to get traction on the track, but it was not a bad run. After the win at Laguna Seca, the whole team is pumped up, and I look forward to Saturday's race. I think it will be a struggle for the Daytona Prototypes to overtake the GT cars because of the tight track, and it will be a really close race."

Road racing stalwart Boris Said was third-quickest on the day with a lap time of 1:04.110 (84.792 mph) in the No. 98 Pacific Coast Motorsports Pontiac GTO.R. Said is making his second Rolex Series start of the year this weekend, sharing the No. 98 machine with Ross Thompson. It is also the second race of the year for the No. 98 Pontiac, which made its debut last weekend at Laguna Seca, finishing sixth in class.

Fourth-fastest was Andrew Davis in the No. 73 NEC Porsche GT3 with a lap time of 1:04.352 (84.473 mph) in the afternoon session. However, in the evening session, co-driver/team owner Jim Tafel pulled the No. 73 machine off-course with flames spewing out of the exhaust system. Track safety officials had to put out the fire, but not after the machine had sustained heavy rear-end damage.

Leighton Reese rounded out the top five in the No. 06 Banner Engineering Chevrolet Corvette with a lap time of 1:04.366 (84.455 mph). Like the No. 73 Porsche, the No. 06 machine also endured its share of problems in the evening session. Contact with the No. 75 Krohn Racing Ford Riley in Turn 1 near the session's midway point sent the No. 06 Corvette spinning into the grass. Both machines returned to the pits under their own power.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Paul Edwards , Mario Haberfeld , Jan Magnussen , Boris Said , Adrian Fernandez , Colin Braun , Robin Liddell , Kelly Collins , Leighton Reese , Andy Lally , Patrick Long , Alex Figge , Andrew Davis , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Marc Bunting , Mike Rockenfeller , Wolf Henzler , Jim Tafel , Michael Shank , Ross Thompson
Teams Krohn Racing , HART , Michael Shank Racing