SCC: Phoenix: Thursday practice report

SunTrust Racing Tops First Day of Food City 250 Practice PHOENIX, Ariz. (April 8, 2004) -- Max Angelelli turned the fastest lap times during both Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series practice sessions for the Food City 250 at Phoenix ...

SunTrust Racing Tops First Day of Food City 250 Practice

PHOENIX, Ariz. (April 8, 2004) -- Max Angelelli turned the fastest lap times during both Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series practice sessions for the Food City 250 at Phoenix International Raceway on Thursday. His quickest time around the 1.51-mile road course came under the lights with a 57.501-second lap at 94.537 mph in the SunTrust Racing No. 10 Pontiac Riley.

"This is the best car we've had yet," Angelelli said. "We worked hard for three days of testing in March, and it's paying off. Today was a problem-free day, and the crew was really on the ball. We'll need to stay that way, because I have the feeling we'll see quite a few of our competitors improve on their times tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to it."

Scott Pruett turned the second-fastest time with his 57.705-second lap at 94.203 mph in the CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing No. 01 Lexus Riley. After missing the opening practice session while making repairs, the Rx.com G&W Motorsports No. 81 BMW Doran had the third-fastest time with its 58.276-second lap at 93.280 mph.

Although the PTG Motorsports No. 21 BMW M3 was fastest in the GT class during the afternoon practice session, it was The Racer's Group No. 66 Porsche GT3 RS that turned that best time of the day in the class. The No. 66 Porsche clocked a 1:02.406 lap at 87.107 mph. The AASCO Motorsports No. 16 Porsche GT3 Cup was the quickest of the day in the SGS class with its 1:04.614 lap at 84.130 mph during the evening practice session. The TPC Racing No. 36 Porsche led the afternoon session.

Points leader Terry Borcheller and Craig Stanton topped both Grand-Am Cup Series practice sessions for Friday night's Phoenix Grand Sport 200. The pair's TheRaceSite.com No. 44 Porsche 996 turned a 1:08.036 lap at 79.899 mph. Team Lexus led practice for Saturday afternoon's Phoenix Sport Touring 200, recording a 1:10.000 at 77.657 mph with its No. 3 Lexus IS300.

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Record Daytona Prototype Field

With 19 Daytona Prototypes set to take the grid, this Saturday's Food City 250 is expected to have the largest Daytona Prototype field ever at a race. Six chassis and five engine manufacturers are represented in the 11 different combinations of Daytona Prototypes running in this weekend's race. Daytona Prototypes are fielded this weekend by CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing, CITGO Howard-Boss Motorsports, Howard-Boss Motorsports, Cegwa Sport, Essex Racing, Michael Shank Racing, Southard Motorsports, Mears Motorcoach SpeedSource, Spirit of Daytona Racing, SunTrust Racing, Doran-Lista Racing, Silverstone Racing Services, Kodak Bell Motorsports, Red Bull Brumos Racing, Brumos Racing, SpeedSource, G&W Motorsports and Rx.com G&W Motorsports.

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Littlechild Cleared After Porsche Rolls

John Littlechild was at the wheel of the TPC Racing No. 37 Porsche GT3 Cup during night practice when it had contact with another car, sending the Porsche into a spin that resulted with it on its roof.

"I was exiting the keyhole and negotiating the full kink where you make the left hand turn," explained Littlechild. "In that kink, I got hit on the right rear by a car, which I had seen the headlights coming, but I didn't think that he was going to try to move inside me there. He hit me hard enough, I think, to deflate the right rear tire, which sent the car into a spin. I locked up the tires and the car went down the track. But unfortunately, by the time I got to that soft gravel, the car just rolled on its roof.

After a visit to the infield care center, Littlechild was cleared and anxious to find out the status of his car. "I am 100 percent," he said. "We've got a lot of cars on the track, and everybody needs to take care. It would good if you didn't get hit in the back. Now I've got to go see how bad the damage is."

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Mears Motorcoach SpeedSource Ford Damaged in Opening Practice

The Mears Motorcoach SpeedSource No. 9 Ford Multimatic sustained notable damage during the opening practice session for the Food City 250. Paul Mears Jr. was at the wheel of the Daytona Prototype when the Michael Baughman Racing No. 47 Porsche GT3 Cup driven by Bob Ward made contact with the Daytona Prototype on the front straight. The No. 9 Ford suffered damage along the driver's side, and the crew reported that it will have to make several repairs including replacing an axle.

Although the car made it back out for the evening practice session, it had trouble on the back stretch and had to be towed in for more repairs.

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Relief from the Phoenix Heat

The spring heat wave that Phoenix has been under the last few weeks has lifted this week, giving way to pleasant temperatures. Although the sun did have the track temperature at 108 degrees during the afternoon practice session, it cooled to 85 degrees for the evening practice with an ambient temperature of 79. At 6 p.m., which is the start time for Saturday night's Food City 250, the track was 93 degrees.

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Radio Ramblings

As the first practice session grew to a close, this radio exchange could be heard between SunTrust Racing No. 10 Pontiac Riley driver Max Angelelli and car builder Bill Riley.

Riley: I know we probably have too long a top gear, Max, so let's evaluate it after the session.

Angelelli: No, Bill. I'm still lost out here. I can't say much about gears.

Riley: Well Max, you're P1 right now, so could you stay lost a little longer?

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Driver Quotes from Opening Practice

Scott Pruett, driver of the CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing No. 01 Lexus Riley "This is a pretty tough, tight, slippery racetrack. The traffic out there is worse than rush hour traffic in downtown Phoenix on the worst of days. You are constantly in traffic, and you barely have time to even look at the gauges. I'm going to say that this is going to be one of the toughest races, due to the traffic, all year. The CompUSA Ganassi guys are doing a great job learning a lot about the car and how to get the most out of it. This is still a work in progress, but unless you're first, the car is not good."

Oswaldo Negri Jr., driver of the Michael Shank Racing No. 6 Lexus Doran "Overall, I am happy with how things are going. I never had a clear lap, so I am definitely pleased with a P4. The team is doing a fantastic job, giving us a top-five car from the start, and I am certain that we will continue to improve."

Burt Frisselle, driver of the Michael Shank Racing No. 6 Lexus Doran "Wow, the track is definitely a bull ring! I drove this track early in my career in an RT car, but I don't remember it being so tight. I was only out there with the Daytona Prototypes this afternoon, so I anticipate that tonight's practice will be very challenging with all of the traffic. I have a lot to learn, but I have a great team behind me and I am up to the challenge!"

Joe Policastro, driver of the Orbit Racing No. 44 Porsche GT3 RS "It was a challenge! It's something I've never been used to - it's almost as flat as a pool table out there. There's hardly any banking at all, and you really have to back off in some spots, which is not normal. It will take some time to get used to it, and we need to get the right gear ratio, but I think we're doing okay."

-garra-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Scott Pruett , Terry Borcheller , Max Angelelli , Burt Frisselle , Craig Stanton , Michael Baughman , John Littlechild , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Chip Ganassi , Bob Ward , Michael Shank
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , SpeedSource , Michael Shank Racing