Split-Class Format Puts Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes and GT Machines Under Prime Time Spotlight in Phoenix DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 6, 2005) -- For the first time since the inception of the Daytona Prototype class in 2003, this...
Split-Class Format Puts Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes and GT Machines Under Prime Time Spotlight in Phoenix
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 6, 2005) -- For the first time since the inception of the Daytona Prototype class in 2003, this weekend's Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series visit to Phoenix International Raceway will see the two Rolex Series classes co-headline the Phoenix 250 (GT race -- SPEED Channel, 9/9 12:00 Midnight ET; Daytona Prototype race -- SPEED Channel, 9/11 4:00 p.m. ET).
Saturday night's Daytona Prototype battle will close out a busy weekend of racing for both the Rolex Series and the Grand-Am Cup Series, and comes on the heels of two consecutive "barnburners." The EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course--which was won by No. 4 The Boss Snowplow Pontiac Crawford co-drivers Butch Leitzinger and Elliott Forbes-Robinson--saw the top-10 Daytona Prototypes cross the finish line within 8.7 seconds of each other.
Just one race earlier, in the CompUSA 200 at The Glen, Daytona Prototype co-points leaders Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli claimed their fourth victory of the season in their No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley, but the SunTrust machine crossed the stripe just 8.7 seconds ahead of the 12th place finisher. More of the same is expected in the Phoenix 250 on the tricky, 1.51-mile, 11-turn circuit.
Leading the way will be Angelelli and Taylor, who are the defending champions of the Phoenix 250, in addition to heading the Daytona Prototype driver standings by 19 points (312-293) over No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley co-drivers Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz. Taylor and Angelelli are riding a four-race streak of podium finishes in Rolex Series competition, including a third-place run in the EMCO Gears Classic after starting from the rear of the grid due to a fire during qualifying.
As they have virtually throughout the 2005 season, the SunTrust teammates will have their hands full if they are to record a fifth victory this weekend. Pruett and Diaz are likely candidates to keep Taylor and Angelelli off the top step of the podium as the CompUSA co-drivers have already visited victory lane twice themselves this season and head west with a second-place performance at Mid-Ohio fresh in their minds.
Leitzinger and Forbes-Robinson also have two victories this season and have proven to be tough competitors in their own right. The Howard-Boss Motorsports teammates have finished inside the top five in six of 10 races to date, and a third victory this weekend would enable them to draw even closer in the Daytona Prototype championship fight. They are currently tied for fifth with 271 points, 41 in arrears of the leaders.
Other 2005 race winners with the potential to win again this weekend include No. 2 CITGO Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford co-drivers Milka Duno and Andy Wallace--who won May's 6 Heures du Circuit Mont-Tremblant--and No. 67 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley driver Nic Jonsson, who claimed a victory in June's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen with co-driver and car owner Tracy Krohn and will share the No. 67 this weekend with 2004 Daytona Prototype co-champion Max Papis.
Papis will have a busy night in the Phoenix 250, as he is also slated to co-drive the No. 66 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley with Germany's Jorg Bergmeister. Papis and Bergmeister are among a slew of drivers who have shown the speed to win on more than one occasion this season and clearly rank among the favorites to take a breakthrough victory on Saturday night.
No. 19 Make A Wish/Air Force Reserve/Commercial Defeasance BMW Riley co-drivers Memo Gidley and Phoenix-native Michael McDowell are another likely duo to score their first victory in the Phoenix 250. The Finlay Motorsports pair has finished inside the top four in five of their last six Rolex Series starts, including a season-best second-place run in the Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant at Barber Motorsports Park in late July.
Scottsdale's Mike Borkowski could also find his way to the top step of the podium, co-driving with the lightning-fast Oswaldo Negri Jr. in the No. 6 Mears Motor Coach Pontiac Riley for Michael Shank Racing. Borkowski and regular co-driver Paul Mears Jr. scored a podium result at California Speedway in April, while Negri claimed the pole position in the inaugural Rolex Series visit to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the Road & Track 250 in May.
Alex Gurney--who has started from the pole position in two of his last three Rolex Series starts--will once again share the No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley with car owner and co-driver Bob Stallings. Gurney and Stallings will be looking to improve just one position on their previous season-best performance, a second-place run in the CompUSA 200 at The Glen.
Cort Wagner and Stefan Johansson are also candidates for their first victory of the season aboard the No. 02 New Century Mortgage Lexus Riley for Chip Ganassi Racing. Johansson and Wagner have finished inside the top-seven positions in seven of 11 races, topped by a best result of second in the 6 Heures du Circuit Mont-Tremblant.
Italians Fabrizio Gollin and Matteo Bobbi have also been plenty fast throughout the season in Doran Racing's No. 77 Crown Royal Special Reserve Ford Doran and could break through at any time, while one can never count out 2003 Daytona Prototype champion Terry Borcheller and co-driver Ralf Kelleners in the No. 54 Kodak EasyShare Pontiac Doran for Bell Motorsports.
Phoenix-resident Darren Law is looking for a "home-race advantage" this weekend in the No. 58 Red Bull Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcar that he shares with co-driver David Donohue. Law and Donohue are half of a formidable one-two punch for Brumos Racing that also includes sports car legend Hurley Haywood and JC France in the No. 59 Porsche Fabcar.
The stout field of Daytona Prototypes is further strengthened by the inclusion of No. 3 PAP-Parts/OZEXE BMW Riley co-drivers Shane Lewis and Darius Grala with Southard Motorsports, as well as No. 5 Essex Racing Ford Crawford teammates Rob Morgan and James Gue, No. 7 Tuttle Team Racing/SAMAX Pontiac Riley owner/driver Brian Tuttle, the No. 07 Waste Services Inc. Pontiac Crawford duo of Roberto Moreno and Bob Ward with Spirit of Daytona Racing, the No. 8 Rx.com/Synergy Racing BMW Doran pairing of Burt and Brian Frisselle, No. 09 Spirit of Daytona Racing/Spiralz Custom Jewelry/Chemcraft co-drivers Doug Goad and Marc-Antoine Camirand, and the No. 15 DLGL/HRIS Software/Key Bank/McDonald Financial Group Pontiac Riley duo of Chris Bingham and Hugo Guenette with CB Motorsports.
Friday night's activities will be headlined by the first stand-alone Rolex Series GT race since 2001. Craig Stanton continues to lead the GT driver standings by 18 points over No. 80 Synergy Racing Porsche GT3 Cup co-driver David Murry, but the duo heads into the Phoenix 250 still looking for their first class victory of the season.
BMW Team PTG will again field a four-car assault as the team goes for its seventh GT victory of the season. Leading the charge will be Joey Hand--who is currently ranked third in the driver standings--and co-driver Ian James in the No. 16 F1 Air BMW M3. Mid-Ohio GT winners Tom Milner and Kelly Collins will share the team's No. 21 BMW Financial Services BMW M3, while multi-time GT race winners Justin Marks and Bill Auberlen are slated for the No. 22 BMW Financial Services M3. Chris Gleason and RJ Valentine complete the BMW Team PTG entry in the No. 17 F1 Air BMW M3.
Cory Friedman and Leh Keen look for their second GT win of the year in the No. 14 Autometrics Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup, as do the No. 64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R combination of Jan Magnussen and Paul Edwards and the No. 65 TRG Pontiac GTO.R duo of Andy Lally and Marc Bunting.
Friday's activities will also include the Grand-Am Cup Series Sport Touring (ST) 200, in which points leader David Haskell and No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 co-driver Sylvain Tremblay look for their fifth ST victory in nine tries this season. On Saturday, points leader David Empringham and co-driver Scott Maxwell go for their third Grand-Am Cup Series Grand Sport (GS) class victory in the Luke Air Force Base 200 prior to the Daytona Prototype Phoenix 250.
The weekend schedule gets underway at 3:00 p.m. PT on Thursday, September 8 with a 30-minute practice session for Grand-Am Cup ST machines. Next on track will be the Grand-Am Cup GS race cars from 3:40 to 4:10 p.m., followed by another ST class practice from 4:20 to 5:00 p.m. The GS machines return to the track from 5:10 to 5:50 p.m., with ST qualifying slated for 6:00 to 6:15 p.m.
The Rolex Series GT machines see their first on-track activity with a 45-minute practice session beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, followed by Daytona Prototype practice from 7:25 to 8:10 p.m. The GT machines return for another practice from 8:20 to 9:05 p.m., with the final Daytona Prototype practice session scheduled to run from 9:15 to 10:00 p.m. The 15-minute GT qualifying session will take the green flag at 10:10 p.m.
Kicking off Friday's schedule will be the Grand-Am Cup ST race, which will begin at 4:00 p.m. PT with a scheduled distance of 200.83 miles (133 laps) and a two-hour time limit. Grand-Am Cup GS qualifying will follow the ST race from 6:20 to 6:35 p.m., with the Daytona Prototypes on-track for qualifying from 6:45 to 7:00 p.m. Friday's activities draw to a close with the Rolex Series GT race, which is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. The scheduled distance for the Phoenix GT 250 is 250-66 miles (166 laps) and is subject to a two-hour and 45-minute time limit.
On Saturday, the Luke Air Force Base 200 for the Grand-Am Cup Series GS class will take the green flag at 4:00 p.m. PT with a scheduled distance of 200.83 miles (133 laps) and a two-hour time limit, followed by the Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Phoenix 250 at 7:00 p.m. PT. The Daytona Prototype race is also scheduled for 250.66 miles (166 laps) and is also subject to a two-hour and 45-minute time limit.
SPEED Channel will provide tape-delayed coverage of all Rolex Series and Grand-Am Cup Series races from Phoenix International Raceway. The Phoenix 250 for the Rolex Series GT machines will air at 12:00 midnight ET on Friday, September 9, while the Phoenix 250 for the Daytona Prototypes will air at 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 11. The Grand-Am Cup ST 200 will air at 2:00 p.m. ET on October 15, and the Luke Air Force Base 200 will be televised at 1:00 p.m. ET on October 30.
Live coverage throughout the weekend, including live timing & scoring data and audio webcasts, will be provided on the official web site of the Grand American Road Racing Association, www.grandamerican.com.
<pre> SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Thursday, September 8 3:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Practice Grand-Am Cup ST 3:40 p.m. - 4:10 p.m. Practice Grand-Am Cup GS 4:20 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Practice Grand-Am Cup ST 5:10 p.m. - 5:50 p.m. Practice Grand-Am Cup GS 6:00 p.m. - 6:15 p.m. Qualifying Grand-Am Cup ST 6:30 p.m. - 7:15 p.m. Practice Rolex Series GT 7:25 p.m. - 8:10 p.m. Practice Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes 8:20 p.m. - 9:05 p.m. Practice Rolex Series GT 9:15 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. Practice Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes 10:10 p.m. - 10:25 p.m. Qualifying Rolex Series GT
Friday, September 9 4:00 p.m. START Race Grand-Am Cup ST (200.83-miles/133-laps/2-hour time limit) 6:20 p.m. - 6:35 p.m. Qualifying Grand-Am Cup GS 6:45 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Qualifying Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes 7:30 p.m. START Race Rolex Series GT (250.66-miles/166-laps/2 ¾-hour time limit)
Saturday, September 10 4:00 p.m. START Race Grand-Am Cup GS (200-miles/133-laps/2-hour time limit) 7:00 p.m. START Race Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes (250-miles/166-laps/2 ¾- hour time limit)