Scott Pruett held off a hard-charging Ryan Dalziel in the closing laps of Sunday's Rolex Sports Car Series Bosch Engineering 250 at the Virginia International Raceway to hand Ganassi Racing its third win in four races this season. Pruett, driving...
Scott Pruett held off a hard-charging Ryan Dalziel in the closing laps of Sunday's Rolex Sports Car Series Bosch Engineering 250 at the Virginia International Raceway to hand Ganassi Racing its third win in four races this season. Pruett, driving a Lexus Riley he shared with Memo Rojas, finished 8.55 seconds ahead of Dalziel's SAMAX BMW Riley.
With one lap remaining it looked as if Dalziel might be able to sneak by Pruett to win his first Rolex Series race. But, in the end, the Scot did not have enough to catch Pruett, whose team opted to start its car from the pit lane after its qualifying time was disallowed due a rear wing infraction.
"Ryan had a great car and he had me on my toes the last 20," said Pruett, referring to this dice with Dalziel. "We were racing hard. Sometimes I got the break in traffic and sometimes (Dalziel) got the break in traffic. But we always ended up right back together. He had a little more downforce than I did and he could carry a little bit more speed in some areas on the race track and get right up underneath me and start taking a look. But as soon as we got up on the straights we had more legs."
Dalziel admitted that he could not match Pruett's speed on the straights. "I think realistically we had the legs on them as far as lap times went," said Dalziel, who co-drove with Henry Zogaib. "But we just didn't really have the straight line speed because we were running more downforce."
Last week's victors, Jim Mathews and Marc Goossens, finished third in a Pontiac Riley. And the Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley and the Rum Bum Racing BMW Riley rounded out the top-five. "The car worked really well and I can't be more proud with back to back podiums," said Mathews.
Early in the race, the Gainsco Pontiac Riley, which started last in the 19- car Daytona Prototype field due to a wing infraction discovered after qualifying, appeared to have the field covered, opening up a sizable gap over the second place SunTrust Racing Pontiac Dallara driven by Michael Valiante. But on Lap 30, Jon Fogarty, who started the race behind the wheel of Gainsco car, was hit from behind by JC France in the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley. The crash damaged the rear bodywork and rear suspension on Fogarty's car and probably cost him the race win. "It's a joke really," said Fogarty. "I'm really sick to my stomach. We were going to win and just got nailed from behind." Fogarty's teammate, Alex Gurney, ended up 14th, one lap down to the winners.
Also on Lap 30, Valiante was hit from behind by Rojas as the two drivers battled for second. "Rojas tried to pass on the outside, and I was on the inside," said pole sitter Valiante. "We went into the second corner and he wasn't past (me). He just kept his foot on it, and I was right there. I tried to give him room. He hit me once, I slid wide. He hit me again, and hit me again, and spun me out."
Rojas saw things differently. "I just got into a battle with the (SunTrust) car and unfortunately, we made contact at the end of the back- straight. I gave him room at the outside of one of the corners and then he just chopped me at the next one. It was sad we had contact, because they are very good competitors and Michael Valiante is a good friend of mine. That's the last car I would have wanted to make contact with."
The incident damaged the front bodywork on the Ganassi car, but Pruett was able to work his way back through the 45-car field and lead the last 20 laps en route to the win. "There was a little damage on the front of the car," said Pruett. "So my first concern was whether the car was okay and my second was understanding what I had to work with and deal with. Then it was just getting down to business, doing my job, running hard, and carving my way through traffic the best I could without making any contact.
"I didn't think we would end up on the podium especially after starting last today," said Pruett. "To come back and rebound like we did was quite an achievement for the team."
The SunTrust car was not as fortunate as Pruett and Rojas, ending up 23rd, four laps behind the winners due to suspension problems caused by the accident.
Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis took their second consecutive GT class win in the Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R. The TRG Porsche of Tim George, Jr. and Spencer Pumpelly finished second, followed by the Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche shared by Eric Lux and Leh Keen.
"Another fantastic race today," said Liddell. "This proves we're no fluke and that we are contenders in this series."
The next Rolex Series race is Saturday, May 17 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.