Sears Point: Lexus race report

PRUETT/ROJAS TAKE THIRD AT INFINEON GRAND-AM SONOMA, Calif. (August 25, 2007) -- Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas led 36 laps on the way to a third-place finish in Saturday's Armed Forces 250 at Infineon Raceway, setting the stage for a three-way...

PRUETT/ROJAS TAKE THIRD AT INFINEON GRAND-AM

SONOMA, Calif. (August 25, 2007) -- Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas led 36 laps on the way to a third-place finish in Saturday's Armed Forces 250 at Infineon Raceway, setting the stage for a three-way showdown for the series championship in the season finale at Salt Lake City on Sept. 15.

Rojas started the race in fourth and maintained the position throughout his stint before handing the car over to Pruett on Lap 22. The Northern California native ran a series of fast laps on his adopted "home track" and took over the lead on Lap 30 after the other leaders made their first pit stops. Pruett stayed in the top spot until giving up the lead while pitting on Lap 66. He resumed in third-place and held the position for the remainder of the 97-lap event.

In addition to the #01, three more Lexus-powered teams also placed in the top-10, including a pair of Michael Shank Racing entries. The #60 Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley of Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson placed eighth, while teammates Ian James and John Pew were 10th in the #6 Playboy Lexus. Right in between the Shank cars was the #61 Exchange Traded Gold Lexus-Riley driven by Mark Wilkins and Brian Frisselle for AIM Autosport.

The remaining two Lexus-powered entries were each set to contend for a top-10 spot before they made contact with one another late in the race. The #19 Z-Line Design/Make-A-Wish Lexus Riley was running fifth with Michael Valiante teaming with Alex Lloyd before the car made contact with the #3 PLP Lexus-Riley of Shane Lewis and Randy Ruhlman, which also was running in the top-10. The #3 recovered to finish 12th, while the #19 retired in 15th.

The Rolex Sports Car Series season finale will take place with the Sunchaser 1000 at the Miller Motorsports Park just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, on Sept. 15, where the Michael Shank Racing duo of Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson were victorious a year ago.

Scott Pruett, #01 Telmex Lexus-Riley: "We got all we could out of the car today -- that's just all there was. I'm not sure what happened on the last pit stop, but when we changed our pit strategy to come in earlier, we had to take on more fuel than our competitors and that's what probably cost us. I'm really looking forward to the finale at Salt Lake City. If you win that one, you win the championship and you'll deserve it."

Memo Rojas, #01 Telmex Lexus-Riley: "We had a pretty good run in qualifying and then my stint went well. We were running lap times right with the leaders, but we knew it would come down to those last pit stops. We're right in the hunt for the championship going into the last race."

Michael Valiante, #19 Z-Line Designs/Make-A-Wish Lexus-Riley: "I was lapping the #3 car and went inside of him. I think he just didn't see me and turned into me and it bent up our front end."

Oswaldo Negri, #60 Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley: ""I saw that he (Brian Frisselle) got into the marbles, so he was going to have a hard time under braking and I just put a little bit of pressure on him. I was able to get around him on the outside. He is a great guy and gave me the racing room I needed. He could have raced me dirty, but he didn't and I will repay the favor some day. We were hoping to gain some ground in the championship, but we'll take this result and get ready for Miller in a few weeks."

Mark Patterson, #60 Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley: b^0x001cI was pleasantly surprised by how well behaved everyone was at the start. The car was great for me-when it was heavy with fuel on cold tires, or light on fuel with worn tires-it didn't matter. The car was great. I didn't get into the same rhythm as the 23 car did so he was able to run in front, but it sure was nice to keep a Pontiac behind us there at the start, and Oz made things interesting once again at the end!"

Ian James, #6 Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley: "That was a tough run out there but I got a good restart and we got back up into the top ten. The car was a bit of a handful but we had some good stops and keep working with the car so a top-ten is a good way to leave here today.

John Pew, #6 Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley: b^0x001cIt was frustrating not to be able to do more in those opening laps. I was working with the bars inside the car and trying everything I could, but the car was completely different from how it's been all weekend. It was frustrating, but Ian did a great job to move us into the top ten there at the end and now I'm looking forward to getting back into the endurance mindset for Miller."

-credit: lexus

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Shane Lewis , Scott Pruett , Michael Valiante , Randy Ruhlman , Ian James , Memo Rojas , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Alex Lloyd , Mark Wilkins , John Pew , Mark Patterson , Brian Frisselle , Michael Shank
Teams Michael Shank Racing