Ganassi Racing's Scott Pruett staved off a late-race surge from David Donohue to win Saturday's Rolex Sports Car Series Grand Prix of Miami at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. The decisive moment came with about 20 minutes to go, when the race's only caution period bunched up the field and erased the sizable lead Pruett had built up over Donohue. When the race went green again five minutes later, Donohue was locked on to the back of Pruett's BMW Riley. But Pruett was faster on the straights and banked turns that dominate the Miami track, enabling him to cross the finish line .255 seconds ahead of Donohue's Brumos Racing Porsche Riley.
"I didn't think we had enough to for (Donohue)," said Pruett after his 23rd Rolex Series win. "David did a great job. He kept me so honest. We were chasing the car. It was fairly loose. But we managed to hold on to it."
Pruett led the last 48 laps of the 129-lap race, while Donohue and his teammate, Darren Law, combined to lead 71 of the race's first 80 laps. Before Pruett took the lead for good on lap 84, Law had an eight-second gap on Pruett. But a car on fire in the pit lane when the Brumos entry made its final stop allowed Pruett to erase the deficit and open a gap of his own. And in the end Donohue's car was not fast enough in a straight line to catch the wily Ganassi veteran.
"Toward the end, I had some advantages in certain places, but (Pruett) could get off the corners better and he certainly had the legs on the straights," explained Donohue. "I could never get close enough. And when I did get close enough I couldn't take advantage. A little gap would open and I would have to work a couple of laps to get it back and try again. I came close a couple of times but just couldn't make it happen."
Despite struggling with too little down force and not enough grip - a complaint voiced by a number of drivers, the Gainsco Bob Stallings Chevrolet Riley shared by Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney led a few laps in the early going and held on to finish third. The AIM Autosport Ford Riley and the Starworks Motorsport BMW Riley rounded out the top-five. SunTrust Racing finished sixth.
The Ganassi win was not without controversy as Pruett's teammate, Memo Rojas, made contact with Brian Frisselle in the first turn of the first lap. Rojas was not penalized by the race stewards but Frisselle questioned that decision and had harsh words for Rojas after the fact. Rojas said it was a racing incident.
Mazda RX-8s finished first and third in the GT class, with the SpeedSource entry of Jeff Segal and Emil Assentato taking the win and Leh Keen and James Gue coming home third for Dempsey Racing. The Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R ended up second in the hands of Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell.
"Our car was set up really well," explained Segal. "The tire wear was good. And it was kind of up to me to click off some laps."
The race began in the daylight but ended in the dark, leading some drivers to question why there had not been a night practice prior to the race. Other drivers thought portions of the track were too dark. The track did turn on its lights but only at 20 percent power - about the same used for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.