TRG's Chase for the Grand-Am Championships
PETALUMA, Calif. - As TRG enters the home stretch of the 'Chase for the Championships,' it is involved in an intense battle to claim two prestigious GT-Class crowns -- both of which will be decided at the season's last race of 2007 at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, on September 15.
TRG is tied with Farnbacher-Loles for the Rolex GT Team Championship going into the final event. Drivers RJ Valentine and Andy Lally are only five points out of the lead for the Rolex GT Drivers Championship. TRG won two consecutive team championships in 2005 and 2006, as well as last year's driver's championship. Earning a third GT Championship in a row would be another record for the TRG squad and one that it would relish.
"Here we are again right down to the wire, but I don't know what could be more exciting," said TRG team owner Kevin Buckler. "The pressure will be intense, but that seems to be when the entire TRG squad is at its best. Make ' em longer, harder, more difficult or more complex and it just seems to suit our style."
TRG won the inaugural Miller Nine Hour race last year and have their hopes set high as they take the green flag for this year's event. The team has had an absolutely stellar season with five wins and several incredible last-lap passes that made for some great racing.
"This has been a year beyond belief," said Valentine. "The TRG 'magic touch' that you hear about - well let me tell you, it's for real! The combo that these guys have put together with the team infrastructure, the preparation, the hospitality and the race strategy - no one does it like TRG. Andy (Lally) has been the perfect co-driver all year and has done the lion's share of the driving duties. I love being a part of this organization and they have delivered 100% for me. To be this close to a Championship -- well, I can almost taste it. This has been a dream year for me."
"Nobody has the depth that TRG has to draw from," agreed Lally. "Our crew has been on top of this car from the day we got it and every member of the squad has delivered the exact dedication and professionalism that TRG is known for having. RJ (Valentine) has been absolutely great all year long. He has been a rock and we have been able to rely on him to start this car every race and not put a scratch on it."
"I'm really looking forward to returning to Miller (Motorsports Park) with Spencer Pumpelly," added Lally. "The last time he ran in the #66 with us was earlier in the year and we ended up with a win at Watkins Glen. It will be cool heading to Utah as the defending Champions and trying to not only repeat as race winners but as GT Champions. Kevin (Buckler) has been flat-out as he always is, making sure that every detail is looked after so we can roll off the trailer and be fast and reliable from the first practice session all the way to the checkered flag."
TRG leads the Grand-Am Record Book with 23 wins to-date and hopes to add to that tally when they are finished in Utah. Valentine, Pumpelly and Lally will pilot the No. 66 car for the finale as the same combo (minus Marc Bunting) that won last year's Miller event and claimed the GT title.
"Obviously we can't predict what will happen in this final race, but I do know that it will be very very exciting," assured team owner Buckler. "One side of wishes we had a comfortable lead and all we have to do is take the green flag - but the other side says, let's get it on!!! Grand-Am has put together great racing all year and most all of our competitors have raced us clean. To have it come down to the last race like this is spectacular." "RJ and Andy have been simply tremendous. RJ has been fantastic. He has qualified and started 10 of these races this year. He has driven well, driven smart and turned the car over to Andy in perfect shape. That was his job and he nailed it all season long. Andy has been absolutely flawless and seems to have ascended to a new level as a driver."
"From the team side, I am so proud of our guys. Their preparation and execution has been flawless. Many of these guys have been with us for years, through thick and thin and for sure deserve this shot at another championship."
"I might be most proud of the fact that we are back with Porsche and winning in a big way. In 2005 we started with Porsche and won the Championship. We were tapped for the GM factory deal with the GTO-Rs and we won the championship with them in '06. When we went back to our roots with Porsche for 2007 we all recognized there would be a lot of hard work needed to build on the previous years' successes. To be tied for the team championship and a close second in the driver championship at this point has us 'over the moon' excited.
We're all totally focused and looking forward to the 'Chase for the Championship' at the season-ending Miller event."