Nancy Knapp Schilke
The well-known hit and run incident that happened at the Grand-Am Rolex Series debut race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway between Juan Montoya and Ryan Dalziel is starting to boil over. Word has it that Peter Baron has or will pull out of the NASCAR owned sports car series; leaving his driver Dalziel without a ride.
Dalziel was not happy about the move made by Montoya at the Indy event but he still is seeking the Drivers’ title this year. Baron’s Starworks Ford Riley Daytona Prototype (DP) had a good chance to clinch the 2012 title.
To set the stage, Montoya was a guest driver for the Chip Ganassi championship team since the inaugural Rolex race was on the same weekend as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400.
The contact between the two DPs was late in the race, and while Montoya kept his BMW Riley on the track, Dalziel was out of the race stuck in a sand pit.
“I hope GRAND-AM is going to do something about it,” said Baron at the time. Nothing was done, and per several of the Rolex drivers, that is normal for the race director and the series to turn a blind eye to the powerhouse team with drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas.
Even though he was angry, his other car scored the win and the North American Endurance Championship (special four events within the yearlong battle) and was very pleased that Sebastien Bourdais was inboard with Alex Popow.
“It is incredible to win the North American Endurance Championship,” said Baron. “And it is awesome having Sebastien with us. He drove a killer of a race.”
Word on the street is that Baron is leaving the Rolex series. He is not alone as apparently others teams are considering joining a “protest movement”.
The teams in the rumor mill include the GAINSCO team of Bob Stallings. Apparently Taylor’s SunTrust Racing team is not one of them.
Other drivers that cross over between the two American-based sports car endurance series only said that was not the only reason teams were upset since the announcement that Grand-Am would be using the NASCAR theory that if you win on-track, you keep the win; even if the car fails post-race technical inspection.
Rumors come and go, and in fact, this could just be a statement to wake up the Grand-Am officials.