Utah: Essex Racing/Finlay early out race report

ENGINE PROBLEM FOILS FINLAY, VALIANTE AND CAMERON'S RUN AT UTAH TOOELE, UTAH (September 2, 2006) The Grand American Rolex Series Presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve season finale took place earlier today on the 4.5-mile, 24-turn road...

ENGINE PROBLEM FOILS FINLAY, VALIANTE AND CAMERON'S RUN AT UTAH

TOOELE, UTAH (September 2, 2006) The Grand American Rolex Series Presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve season finale took place earlier today on the 4.5-mile, 24-turn road course at the Miller Motorsports Park in Utah. The driving trio of Rob Finlay, Michael Valiante and Dane Cameron spent all week preparing for the 9-hour Discount Tire Sunchaser event and when it came to qualifying, the team called on Rob Finlay to do the honors. Finlay drove his fastest lap of the week during the qualifying session, securing a starting spot on row 9. When it came time for the race, Finlay was a man on a mission. His mission was to go after the prestigious Jim Trueman Award. In order to do so, Finlay would have to withstand several hours in the desert like heat in the cockpit of the No.5 Make-A-Wish/Z-Line Designs Ford-powered Crawford Daytona Prototype machine.

As the first of two scheduled stints for the rookie driver came to a close, Finlay was feeling great and brought his machine into the pits for the first pit stop. The Mooresville, NC based team quickly serviced their Daytona Prototype and sent Finlay on his way for the start of his second stint. Shortly after the start of his second stint Finlay radioed the crew that the car was loosing power. The team called him into the pits pulled the engine cover and the Roush/Yates engine guys began to diagnose the problem. The problem seemed to be coming from the top end of the engine but the team decided to take their chances and sent Finlay back on the course.

Finlay continued to nurse the Make-A-Wish/Z-Line Designs machine around the circuit while the team carefully monitored the situation. At Finlay's three hour mark behind the wheel the team elected to park the No.5 machine for one hour in an attempt to save the motor. When the hour was up the team, according to Grand Am rules put Michael Valiante behind the wheel of the car for one lap and pulled back into the pits. Valiante quickly climbed from behind the wheel and his teammate Rob Finlay climbed back into the cockpit.

Unfortunately Finlay's return to the track was brief, the engine problem became terminal and he was forced to return to the garage area once again this time for good. "It's a real shame," stated Rob Finlay. "We had a good strategy going and we were in contention but the motor just gave way. The Ford engine has been reliable all season and it's very rare to experience a problem like this. We have the off season ahead us but we're planning on testing as much as we can to start preparing for next year. "

It was a great season for the Finlay Motorsports/Make-A-Wish/Z-Line Designs team, scoring an impressive ten top-10 finishes this season, including two top- five finishes at Homestead and the second Watkins Glen event and podiumed during Grand American's first ever qualifying race at Virginia International Raceway with Michael Valiante behind the wheel.

-credit: finlay motorsports

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Michael Valiante , Rob Finlay