Utah: Porsche Motorsport preview

KEEN, WERNER CAN CLINCH ROLEX ACXIOM GT TITLE AT MILLER MOTORSPORTS PARK Penske, Brumos Teams Can Help Determine Grand-Am DP Titlists TOOELE, Utah - September 15 --They have won more races (four) and scored more points (304) than any team -...

KEEN, WERNER CAN CLINCH ROLEX ACXIOM GT TITLE AT MILLER MOTORSPORTS PARK
Penske, Brumos Teams Can Help Determine Grand-Am DP Titlists

TOOELE, Utah - September 15 --They have won more races (four) and scored more points (304) than any team - either Acxiom GT class or Daytona Prototype - in Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 competition this year, so it's not surprising that Porsche drivers Leh Keen (Charleston, SC) and Dirk Werner (Germany) can wrap up the Acxiom GT title at Miller Motorsports Park Saturday Sept. 19.

With a 35-point advantage heading into the next-to-the-last race of the season, all Keen and Werner need to do is finish ahead of Kelly Collins, driver of the No. 07 Pontiac GXP.R in Utah. Keen and Werner then would each need to drive 30 minutes in their #87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche 911 GT3 Cup during the Oct. 10 season-ending Grand Prix of Miami to share the 2009 title.

Meanwhile, the Penske Racing and Brumos Daytona Prototype teams can have a strong influence on the Daytona Prototype championship battle. The #58 Brumos Porsche Riley of Darren Law (Phoenix, AZ) and David Donohue (Malvern, PA) hope to repeat their season- opening Rolex 24 at Daytona victory, while Porsche works drivers Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) seek their first victory in Grand-Am competition in the #12 Verizon Wireless Penske Porsche Riley.

"We are protecting our lead from the front," Werner said. If we stay ahead, we add to the lead. That is perhaps an aggressive strategy, but when the car runs so great, you do not hold it back."

"We are trying to stay focused on the championship," Keen said. "If it goes good, we'll keep it on the payment and win the race but the most important thing is to finish ahead of the 07 car."

Following a fourth-place finish in Round 2 at Virginia International Raceway, Keen and Werner took command of the championship by winning four of five races. They followed a victory at New Jersey Motorsports Park with a third at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and then won the Sahlen's Six Hours of Watkins Glen, EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway. A fifth-place finish at Barber Motorsports Park was followed by a second in the Crown Royal 200 at Watkins Glen.

Andrew Davis, Sylvan Tremblay, Nick Ham, Andy Lally, Edwards and Eric Lux all come to the Utah 250 mathematically eligible for the championship. However, a fourth-place finish by the No. 87 Porsche at Utah would eliminate all of their chances.

Farnbacher Loles Racing can also clinch the 2009 Rolex Series Acxiom GT Team Championship by finishing eight points better than the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac and ahead of the No. 07 Pontiac at Utah.

Bernhard and Dumas expect to again run up front at Miller Motorsports Park. The last time the Porsche works drivers were at Miller, May 18 a long year ago, they won the Utah Grand Prix in impressive style, driving their LMP2 Penske Porsche RS Spyder to an overall American Le Mans Series victory.

Their first season of Grand-Am Rolex competition hasn't been very rewarding: no wins and only three podium finishes, including an excellent second-place finish in the most recent event, the Montreal 200.

A myriad of issues have hindered the Penske team in their rookie Grand-Am campaign. Multiple rule changes, a broken axle, stop-and-go penalty (twice) for jumping the restart, a scary accident and tire punctures have hampered the duo that has recorded 23 international sport car victories and two ALMS LMP2 championships.

Despite their troubles, Bernhard and Dumas still have a chance still have a mathematical chance - albeit, a long shot chance -- to capture the Rolex driver and team championships. . Through nine races, they ranked fifth in both categories, just 21 points out of third and 26 points out of first.

"We are excited to return to Miller because we know the track well and have been very successful there," says Bernhard.

"Hooray for Miller," says Dumas. "We are comfortable and confident racing there."

More likely, Bernhard and Dumas can influence the outcome of the Daytona Prototype championship battle between three teams -- #99 Pontiac Riley of Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney, the current leaders with 274 points, and the #01 Lexus Riley of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas and the #10 SunTrust Ford Dallara of Max Angelelli and Brian Friselle, who won at Montreal by not pitting for tires in changing weather conditions. The #10 and #01 teams each have 269 points with the #12 Verizon Wireless Penske Porsche Riley ranking fourth 2ith 248 points. A maximum of 35 points is available in a single race.

Donohue and Law rank sixth with 234 points while JC France (Ormond Beach, FL) in the #59 Brumos Porsche Riley ranks eighth with 224 and co-drive Joao Barbosa (Portugal) is 10th with 207 points.

Brumos Racing has long been renowned for their endurance racing prowess, but the Miller Motorsports Park race has thus far proven to be a challenging one for them. Last season's event was the first to see both the #58 and #59 Brumos cars score a top ten finish. Brumos' drivers are eager to return to Miller with hopes of changing their luck in this year's sprint race format there.

David Donohue recalled the #58 car's history at Miller, and hopes for a better result this year.

"In 2006, we had just switched to the Riley chassis, so we were still in a learning curve at the Miller race. The following two years, we had a really fast car and were competitive, but each of those years we had other problems that set us back. I don't see any particular advantage or disadvantage for us because of the change from an endurance to sprint format - I think we have proven how strong we are in either type of competition. I am very optimistic about our chances at Miller this year and regardless of the format, I really believe we can turn our season around with our last two races," said Donohue.

Back in the GT class, Miller Barrett Racing will field its class-leading driver duo again with Bryce Miller of Summit, N.J., and Kevin Roush of Upland, Calif., sharing driving duty in the No. 48 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, carrying the colors of Marquis Jet, IPC Systems and Total Lubricants. The Sept. 19 race will be the third of four test races this season for the rookie team.

Miller and Roush combined forces in the team's first race, at Watkins Glen International last month. They had a strong start, with Roush leading the GT class, until a wayward Daytona Prototype knocked the car out of the race. The team struggled with gearbox issues at the next race, in Montreal, but completed a successful test last week.

Other Porsche GT entries include the TRG Porsche 911 GT3 team car of John Potter/Craig Stanton and the second Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup of Porsche factory driver Wolf Henzler and Eric Lux. Besides supporting their teammates in their driver championship effort, Henzler and Lux are aiming for a high finish to help their Farnbacher Loles secure the team title.

-credit: porsche motorsport

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Alex Gurney , Jon Fogarty , Scott Pruett , Kelly Collins , Andy Lally , Darren Law , David Donohue , JC France , Timo Bernhard , Max Angelelli , Joao Barbosa , Memo Rojas , Andrew Davis , Craig Stanton , Nick Ham , Wolf Henzler , Lehman Keen , Eric Lux , Kevin Roush , Dirk Werner , John Potter , Bryce Miller
Teams Team Penske , Stevenson Motorsports