Champions Week: Andy Lally & Marc Bunting
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (December 22, 2004) -- In motor racing, one will often hear drivers say, "to finish first, first you must finish." Another widely used adage is something on the order of, "if I can't win the race, I need to finish on the podium."
While many drivers say those words, it was clear that No. 38 TPC Racing Porsche GT3 Cup co-drivers Andy Lally and Marc Bunting took them to heart in 2004. In an eye-popping 11 out of 12 races, Lally and Bunting finished on the SGS class podium.
On two of those occasions--at the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen and the Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park--Lally and Bunting earned well-deserved class victories. But the real story of their season lies in the fact that they rarely put a wheel wrong.
Lally and Bunting started the year with a second-place class performance in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, touching off an impressive string of eight consecutive podium results. That run--coupled with their closest challengers encountering various issues that prevented them from doing the same--gave Bunting and Lally a nice "cushion" in the points chase.
When they did encounter bad luck, which came in the form of an eighth-place class result in September at the Miami 250, they put that cushion to use. True to form, however, Lally and Bunting returned to their customary place on the podium with a second-place performance in Round 10 at VIR.
In the penultimate round of the season, Lally and Bunting all but wrapped-up the SGS title with their victory at Barber. While many of the teams and drivers in other classes were sweating it out for their respective championships in the season finale, Lally and Bunting needed only to drive under green flag conditions--which they did within the first five laps in the Lexus Grand American 400k--in order to clinch the title. Putting the icing on the cake, Lally and Bunting finished the season in the same place they started, with a second-place SGS finish.
While the races are where they really shone, their car did start from the class pole position in five of 12 races, proving that they also had the outright speed when they needed it.
Above all else, Lally and Bunting proved in 2004 that two class wins can propel you to a dominant victory in a motor racing championship. Especially when you finish on the podium in all but one race...