Sears Point: Chip Gannasi Racing preview

TEAMS: Back to back Rolex 24 At Daytona Champions TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates and drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas in the No.01 TELMEX Lexus-Riley, Alex Lloyd and Michael Valiante in the No.19 Z-Line Designs/Mission ...

TEAMS: Back to back Rolex 24 At Daytona Champions TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates and drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas in the No.01 TELMEX Lexus-Riley, Alex Lloyd and Michael Valiante in the No.19 Z-Line Designs/Mission Residential/Make-A-Wish Foundation Lexus-Riley.

VENUE: Infineon Raceway this Saturday, August 25th (2:45 p.m. PT) on the 2.52 mile road course in Sonoma, California. Round 13 of 14 in the Rolex Grand American Sports Car Series season.

EXHAUST NOTES: As the season nears its conclusion, the closest points battle in Grand-Am history will persist in Sonoma between the No.01 TELMEX Lexus-Riley, No.10, and No.99 cars...Pruett is tied with Angelelli for first in the drivers points standing...Pruett and Rojas must finish ahead of both competitors to gain an advantage leading up to the test of endurance at Miller in a few weeks.

ALEX LLOYD JOINS NO.19 CAR FOR SONOMA: Current Indy Pro Series points leader, Alex Lloyd will join the No.19 Z-Line Designs/Mission Residential team to drive with Michael Valiante in Saturday's 400K race. Rob Finlay felt it would be in his best interest to sit out in Sonoma to allow time for his ongoing shoulder injury to heal. Finlay anticipates being back in the cockpit for the 1000K season-closer at Miller Motorsports Park in September.

ALEX'S ANTICIPATION: "I am extremely happy to join Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates for this weekend's Rolex race. My time in the Indy Pro Series (IPS) has allowed me to watch Chip Ganassi's success on the track in IndyCar racing. This is a team that I really admire and I am anticipating the chance to drive something new this weekend. I haven't raced a sports car before, however, I have raced at Infineon in the past and won't have to worry about learning a new track in addition to a new car. I raced here for the first time last year in the IPS car and finished first. I'll definitely be learning a lot from Michael Valiante and the Ganassi team this weekend and hope to bring home a strong finish."

"IN MEMORY OF TRAVIS": The Chip Ganassi Racing family mourns the loss of its team member, Travis Bickel who passed away from a massive stroke at age 38 after returning home in Indianapolis from the Watkins Glen Grand-Am race on August 10. Travis' role as a team engineer on the No.19 CGRFS Rolex car was only a small portion of the way he lived out his passion for motorsports. Throughout the years, his love of motorsports had him taking on a vast variety of duties as engineer, mechanic, crew chief, car chief, designer, programmer, sponsor recruiter, dirt tire sales, and even directing team logistics, public relations and maintaining a website.

Travis worked in everything from Grand Am Sports Cars, Infiniti Pro, World of Outlaws, NHRA, SCCA, World Sports Car, NASCAR Truck Series, NMMA Class 'A' Midgets, and All-Pro late models. Back home in Oklahoma he was chief mechanic and jack-of-all-trades with Turner Motorsports and Neighbors Racing. Travis was particularly proud of 27 USAC Sprint Car wins. He also worked with Mo Nunn Racing and Panther in recent years.

Most importantly, at the age of 16, Travis had already made the decision to be an organ donor should something happen to him. His wife Lisa knew this and made sure his wishes were honored. Eighty-five people were given the gift of life last week thanks to Travis. Even more remarkable, Mike O'Gara who is another team engineer and Travis' co-worker was touched by Travis' donation. O'Gara's father-in-law had been on a kidney transplant list for quite sometime. And he was one of those lucky people thanks to Travis's gift!

The team will be sporting "In memory of Travis Bickel" on the team cars next weekend and through the end of the season.

PRUETT'S VINEYARD AND VICTORY: Scott Pruett does not have a far drive home this weekend, unlike most race weekends that require a full day's travel to get across the country. At his home in Auburn, California, Pruett has taken on another passion in addition to racing -- wine making. He has done extensive research to find the perfect seeds for grapes, cleared the land, and planted everything with his wife, Judy and their children. The vineyard will take another five years to produce the wine, so Pruett has time before he witnesses the fruits of his labor. In the meantime, Pruett will have numerous personal guests attending this weekend's race and he anticipates a repeat performance of last year's victory in Sonoma.

-credit: cgr

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Series GRANDAM