Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Championship Battle Will Be Decided in Season Finale at Miller DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 7, 2007) -- A full season of wheel-to-wheel battles in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown...
Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Championship Battle Will Be Decided in Season Finale at Miller
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 7, 2007) -- A full season of wheel-to-wheel battles in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve will culminate with a one-race shootout to determine the Daytona Prototype driver's champion.
With only the Sunchaser 1000k at Miller Motorsports Park remaining, the Rolex Series championship remains the closest in series history and the tightest motorsports title chase in the world. Four drivers, representing three different Rolex Series efforts, are separated by a total of just three points.
The championship lead is held by Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, searching for their first Rolex Series Championship in an already record-breaking season. The GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing duo have started 10 of the 13 events from the pole position and have recorded seven wins, the most ever in one season of Rolex Series competition.
"We're in the position we wanted to be in coming into the finale -- in the championship lead for the first time," Gurney said. "But one point doesn't do that much, because we know Scott (Pruett) will be strong and if he wins the race, we lose the title. That means we're still in a difficult situation, but he's got to take the fight to us. I'm sure the GAINSCO Pontiac will be strong at Salt Lake, not only because it's been strong all year but because it was particularly fast here last year -- I set the fastest race lap. It's a long race and we've learned how to win those. Our goal is to run hard the whole way, set the pace and take home the championship."
Sitting atop the championship is new ground for the pilots of the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley, climbing into the lead for the first time after a win in the last round at Infineon Raceway.
"The points lead we have is so slim that we have to go out and run as if we're not leading," Fogarty said. "We're not going to leave anything on the table. We need to execute our strategy, have no problems and run hard right to the end, because I won't be surprised if the Sunchaser comes down to a shootout in the final laps, even after seven hours."
Lurking just behind are two former Daytona Prototype champions. TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates pilot Scott Pruett, the 2004 Rolex Series Champion, and SunTrust Racing pilot and 2005 Rolex Series co-Champion Max Angelelli trail by a scant one point and three points, respectively.
Having held a share of the championship lead after all but two races this season, Pruett grabbed the championship lead at the beginning of the season with a win at the Rolex 24 At Daytona in the No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Racing Lexus Riley. A second win at Iowa Speedway and consistent top finishes throughout the year have left the former champ in the midst of the title fight.
"I am really excited to be going for this championship again and that it is truly the closest championship in motorsports in the world right now," said Pruett, who has more career overall victories than any other driver in Rolex Series competition. "This really speaks to the consistency of the Ganassi organization with our number of wins throughout our time in Grand-Am competition and the other great recognitions this team has achieved. Going into Miller, my focus, along with the TELMEX team, is on making sure we have the best car in the field and that we execute with a victory at the end of the day and win the championship. That's the only priority to us."
Angelelli has had a different approach in his championship run, co-driving the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley with five different co-drivers this season. Still, Angelelli has captured two victories and finished off the podium only three times this season in an impressive run to a second championship.
"We have to go to Salt Lake City and win the race, plain and simple," Angelelli said. "We can settle for nothing else. That is the surest way possible to put ourselves in position for the championship. Three points is a little bit, and it's too much. We can only do what we can do. We cannot control what happens to anybody else, so we will go for the best result possible and hope for the best. I think we saved ourselves with a good race at Infineon because the points could have been a lot worse. We were struggling all weekend, but the SunTrust team showed it is very focused on the big picture of winning the championship."
Should the championship end in a tie, the Grand-Am Rolex Series tiebreaking policy rewards the driver or drivers with the most wins throughout the season, followed by most second-place finishes, and then on to third-place finishes until the tie is broken. The policy essentially gives Gurney and Fogarty the tiebreaker over the others, with Angelelli holding the edge over Pruett.
The Daytona Prototype Championship will be decided on Saturday, Sept. 15 at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, in a 1000k endurance race to the checkered flag. The race's start will air live on SPEED at 11:00 a.m. ET, with the action continuing to the checkered flag beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET.