Drivers, teams enter final stretch to first-ever Daytona Prototype championship in dead heat.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 29, 2003) -- As the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series heads into round nine of its 12-race season, all three of the points championships are in a dead heat, including three teams vying for the title as the first-ever Daytona Prototypes champion.
Currently, only four points separate the top-three teams and top-five drivers in the race to be crowned Daytona Prototypes champion. No. 58 Red Bull Porsche drivers Mike Borkowski and David Donohue lead the charge with 252 points, while teammates Hurley Haywood and J.C. France, of the Brumos Racing No. 59 Porsche, are two points behind. Bell Motorsports No. 54 Chevy driver Terry Borcheller rounds out the leading contenders with 248 points.
"I knew the competition would get tougher and tougher (as the season progressed). The way the rules are written, we knew that the cars would be evenly matched, and the cars would get close," said Borkowski. "I was hoping David and I would have a good points lead by this point in the season, but we had some setbacks (early in the season). We knew we could get back towards the top, but we weren't sure how long it would take."
After a disappointing start to the season that kept the Red Bull duo out of Victory Lane for the first four races of the season, they were able to take the points lead for the first time this season following their second-place finish in the Daytona Prototypes class at the Paul Revere 250 this month, dethroning teammates Haywood and France who had held the top spot since the second race of the season.
"We were kind of in cruise control at the beginning of the season, because we had built up such a large lead," admitted Haywood. "We had all the good luck at the beginning of the season, and the 58 had the bad luck. Recently they've had all the good luck, while we've been having bad luck. Then you add in Terry and Forest (Barber), who have been running like a scalded dog."
After a 39th-place finish overall at the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, the Bell Motorsports No. 54 Chevy of Borcheller and Barber has come on strong and won three races overall, more than any other team. The three wins erased the team's large deficit in the points and moved it to within only four points of the leaders.
"Considering the way the season started out, I think we are the in the best possible position we could be in to go after the championship at this point," commented Borcheller, who has a points advantage over his teammate due to a missed race by Barber because of a family emergency.
With the points race so close heading into the final four races of the season, everyone agrees that consistency will be the key to clinching the first-ever Daytona Prototypes championship. The addition of new Daytona Prototype teams to the series could also prove critical in determining who is crowned champion.
"I've got Donohue and Borkowski just in front, and Forest and Terry nipping at our heels. It's going to be tough," said Haywood. "Plus, there are new cars coming online, which I think will work in our favor, because it will get more of a points spread. There isn't a big difference in the points between finishing in first or fourth place, but when you get some more cars in the mix, it could open up the points,"
"Consistency and being up front is going to more critical in the final races. Now that more cars are coming in, if you have a bad weekend, it will hurt you more," noted Borkowski. "I think the championship will come down to the last race."
"The end will be a real slugfest," agreed Haywood.
The next round of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series will carry it back to Watkins Glen International for the Bully Hill Vineyards 250. Practice and qualifying will be held on Thursday, August 7. The race will get underway following NASCAR Winston Cup qualifying on Friday, August 8. Tickets to the Bully Hill Vineyards 250, as well as the entire NASCAR Winston Cup SIRIUS at The Glen event weekend, are available online at www.theglen.com.
Additional information on the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series and upcoming Bully Hill Vineyards 250 is available at www.grandamerican.com.