CONTROVERSIAL PENALTY DROPS PRUETT FROM CONTENTION; AS LEXUS DUO INCH CLOSER TO TITLE SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 23, 2008) -- A controversial drive-through penalty dropped Scott Pruett from podium contention to an eventual sixth-place in today's Armed...
CONTROVERSIAL PENALTY DROPS PRUETT FROM CONTENTION; AS LEXUS DUO INCH CLOSER TO TITLE
SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 23, 2008) -- A controversial drive-through penalty dropped Scott Pruett from podium contention to an eventual sixth-place in today's Armed Forces 250 at Infineon Raceway, yet, he and teammate Memo Rojas continued to inch closer to the 2008 Rolex Sports Car Series title.
Pruett was passing the #58 Porsche for fourth position on a late re-start when the two cars appeared to make slight door-to-door contact. Pruett then quickly closed on the third-place car. At that point, Pruett was issued the drive-through penalty by Grand-Am for avoidable contact and he fell back to 10th-place. He eventually drove back up through the field to finish sixth.
The Lexus-powered duo maintain a 42-point championship lead with just two races remaining -- needing only to place 17th in each of season's final two events to clinch the title. A championship would be an American record eighth major sports car title for Pruett, while Rojas would become the first Mexican driver ever to win a major U.S. championship.
Saturday's race capped off a difficult weekend for the #3 Southard Motorsports Lexus. After a Thursday practice crash heavily damaged the team's Riley chassis, the Southard squad worked through the night just to make today's race. After an impressive 10th in qualifying, Shane Lewis had an off-course excursion on the opening lap, dropping him well back in the field. He would eventually retire with a broken axle in 17th-place.
The Rolex Sports Car Series will now make the long trek from northern California to the east coast for the inaugural race at the New Jersey Motorsports Park, Aug. 31.
Memo Rojas, #01 Telmex Lexus: b^0x001cWe had a good start and were able to pass the #23 early. We then battled with them for a bit, but they were running a little bit quicker than us and we decided to let them go rather than risk an incident there. The car was good, but we lacked a little bit of grip. We're just running on the conservative side. If we can't get the win, we'll just run for the most points we can get. But with our lead in the points (49 points entering the race), the most important thing is we need to finish."
Scott Pruett, #01 Telmex Lexus: "Obviously, we're disappointed with the outcome, but at the same time we're still fighting for the championship. We only lost a few points to the #99 car, which is important. The Lexus engine was good, the car ran flawlessly. We received a stop-and-go penalty that I wouldn't necessarily agree with, but Grand-Am decided they wanted to do that and that's that.JThere's nothing we can do about that. We just go to New Jersey next week and keep doing what we're doing. I thought we might have had a shot for the podium before the penalty, but it was so difficult to pass here."
-credit: lexus motorsports