Utah: Series round 11 preview

Rolex Series Sprints To Salt Lake City; Points Battle Tight Entering Saturday's Utah 250 At Miller Motorsports Park Top three Daytona Prototype driving duos within five points; GT leaders can wrap up title in penultimate race DAYTONA BEACH,...

Rolex Series Sprints To Salt Lake City; Points Battle Tight Entering Saturday's Utah 250 At Miller Motorsports Park

Top three Daytona Prototype driving duos within five points; GT leaders can wrap up title in penultimate race

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 15, 2009) - Six drivers and three teams are within five points of the Daytona Prototype championship lead heading into Saturday's Utah 250 at Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City, the penultimate round of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.

The two-hour, 45-minute race on the 4.486-mile, 24-turn circuit takes the green flag at 3:30 p.m. MT (SPEED live, 5:30 p.m. ET). The event will be preceded by an autograph session including all of the Rolex Series drivers in the paddock at 1 p.m., and a Fan Walk on pit road at 2:35 p.m. Both activities are free to the public.

Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty regained the point lead in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley with a third-place finish at the recent Montreal 200. Max Angelelli and Brian Frisselle won that race in the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara to tie defending series champs Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley for second, only five points behind (274-269).

Two years ago, the same three teams battled down to the wire at Miller for the Daytona Prototype title. The lead changed three times within a seven-minute span late in the race before Gurney and Fogarty won the crown with an eighth-place finish. Angelelli's car was destroyed in a fire at the entrance to the pits moments after he had taken the lead.

Following Saturday's race, only the Grand Prix of Miami on Oct. 10 at Homestead-Miami Speedway remains on the Rolex Series schedule. For the past three years, the Miller event served as the season finale, and was also the second-longest event on the schedule with distances ranging from 1,000 kilometers to nine hours.

Competitors feel that the shorter distance will add to the excitement.

"This is going to change everything," said Pruett, who comes to Miller in the thick of the championship battle for the third consecutive year. "We've been to Miller in the past for six or eight hours, and now we're going with the traditional two-hour, 45-minute race. That's going to change how we approach the race. It's all going to play a little differently when we're looking at how things are going to unfold, especially with the championship being so close."

All three Grand-Am Rolex Series races at Miller have produced first-time Daytona Prototype and overall winners. Michael Shank Racing put its No. 60 (2006) and No. 6 (2008) in victory lane for the first time at the circuit, while Riley-Matthews Motorsports won its first race at Miller in 2007.

Penske Racing and Beyer Racing will be looking to continue the tradition of first-time winners in Saturday's Utah 250. Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard gave Penske Racing its best Rolex Series finish with a second-place finish in the Montreal 200 in the No. 12 Verizon Wireless Porsche Riley. Beyer Racing also had its best finish at Montreal, with drivers Ricky Taylor and Mike Forest in the No. 13 Lennox/Brach's Chevrolet Riley. Taylor finishing fourth after he was passed for position by Alex Gurney on the final lap.

***

Werner, Keen Can Clinch in GT Championship

Leh Keen and 2007 champ Dirk Werner will attempt to wrap up the Acxiom GT title on Saturday. With the co-drivers of the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3 holding a 35-point advantage heading into the penultimate race of the season, all Keen and Werner need to do is finish ahead of 2008 co-champion Kelly Collins, driver of the second place No. 07 Drinkin' Mate Pontiac GXP.R. The two drivers would each need to drive 30 minutes in the October 10 season-ending Grand Prix of Miami to share the 2009 title.

Andrew Davis, Sylvain Tremblay, Nick Ham, Andy Lally, Paul Edwards and Eric Lux all enter the Utah 250 with a mathematical chance at the championship, but a fourth-place finish by the No. 87 Porsche would eliminate all of their chances.

Farnbacher Loles can also clinch the 2009 GT Team Championship by finishing eight points better than the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac and ahead of the No. 07 Pontiac. Stevenson Motorsports scored team points with a 16th-place finish in the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona, although neither Davis nor Robin Liddell scored driver points in that event.

Jade Buford, a 21-year-old driver from Brentwood, Tenn., will make his Rolex Series debut in the No. 30 Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda RX-8, joined by fellow young guns Dane Cameron and Jordan Taylor.

Practice for the Utah 250 begins Friday at 9:30 a.m., with qualifying at 4:50 p.m. The weekend also includes the Salt Lake City 200 for the Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge, a two hour, 30 minute race set for 6 p.m. Friday (SPEED, Oct. 3, 1:30 p.m. ET).

-credit: grand-am

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Alex Gurney , Paul Edwards , Jon Fogarty , Robin Liddell , Kelly Collins , Andy Lally , Max Angelelli , Sylvain Tremblay , Memo Rojas , Jordan Taylor , Andrew Davis , Romain Dumas , Chip Ganassi , Nick Ham , Lehman Keen , Brian Frisselle , Eric Lux , Bob Stallings , Michael Shank , Dirk Werner , Dane Cameron , Ricky Taylor , Jade Buford , Mike Forest
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Team Penske , Stevenson Motorsports , Racers Edge Motorsports , Michael Shank Racing