Pontiac Teams Take Winning Momentum To VIR Collins and Edwards Lead GT Points Detroit, Mich., April 22, 2008 -- Pontiac Grand-Am teams are taking the momentum of two class wins in Mexico City four days ago to round four of the Grand-Am Rolex ...
Pontiac Teams Take Winning Momentum To VIR
Collins and Edwards Lead GT Points
Detroit, Mich., April 22, 2008 -- Pontiac Grand-Am teams are taking the momentum of two class wins in Mexico City four days ago to round four of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 to be run at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) April 27. The 3.27-mile, 17-turn undulating natural road course will be welcomed event for the Pontiac contingent.
In the Daytona Prototype (DP) category the Riley-Matthews team of Marc Goossens and Jim Matthews has been one of the most consistent Pontiac powered team so far this season. Goossens and Matthews have combined to finish no worse than eighth all year. At the Rolex 24 they finished eighth, Homestead-Miami Speedway the duo came fourth, and in the last race at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez they posted their first win of the season. The team from North Carolina is second in DP points.
"We have had a good beginning to the season and we had a good race last year at VIR," Goossens said. "The track has a lot of elevation change, which makes it interesting to drive. The setup of the car has take in mind the two long straights as well as the all of the turns. The front straight is also up hill, so you have to be careful not run too much downforce. It is important to have a reasonable setup off of the trailer, so you are just fine tuning for speed."
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing comes into VIR third in the DP point standings. Although the team has posted finishes of second, sixth and fourth in the first three events, drivers Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney are looking to get back into the form they showed last season where they posted 10 pole positions and seven wins.
"We got the front row last year, I made a money pass on Colin Braun for the lead and we kind of bumped one another, it was money," Fogarty said. "After pit stops we were running third and I just went wide at the Oak Tree turn. Nothing happened, I just went off. At least five cars went by and I came right back on and suddenly, I was in eighth, and that was kind of it. I love the track and we have always been quick there. I screwed up last year and plan on making good on that, and that means a win."
SunTrust/Wayne Taylor Racing coming into VIR as the 2007 defending race winners. The team is campaigning their new Dallara chassis this season. The team has had a tough last two events, with crash damage ending their Mexico City race early, with similar results at Homestead.
"VIR is a track where the SunTrust team has always run up front and has been very competitive," Angelelli said. "I'm very confident going there with our new Dallara. We will try to keep going and try to shoot for a good setup like we've always had on race day at VIR. One of the reasons we've always been very good is that we've also been very good on strategy at VIR. When we won in 2004, and again in 2007, our team had a really good game plan. Our engineer, Travis Jacobson, found something that helped us a lot on race day last year. And our team manager, Simon Hodgson, is a master at race strategy. Hopefully, they work some more magic with the Dallara this weekend."
The Krohn Racing team is coming off their first podium of the young season with a third place in Mexico City by drivers Nic Jonsson and Ricardo Zonta. The team will exercise their new Lola DP car at VIR and are looking forward to getting to the season's first natural road course.
"The car is getting better and is really good on long runs," Jonsson said. "We just don't have the all out speed over one qualifying lap. I hope we can have a break through at VIR. We have shown we can run upfront. Some luck and bit more speed and we can do well there. I think that VIR is a proper road course and will suit our car better. The track requires more down force from turn one to the Oak Tree turn. How much downforce can you afford to run so your not a sitting duck on the straights is the question. We will have to have a good balance on the car."
In GT, Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards lead the GT point standings based upon their win at Homestead and a second place in Mexico City. The No. 07 Banner Racing duo finished third last year at VIR after coming back from being a lap down.
"Last year at VIR we had a tough race," Collins said. "I had an off track excursion and had to pit, then a yellow came out and we lost track position. Thankfully we still had the Lucky Dog rule to get the lap back and Paul was able to bring us back to finish on the podium. The GXP.R is pretty strong at VIR. The Oak Tree turn is bad news. It is a first gear turn and then we get eaten up down that straight. The twisty stuff is great, the car really gets hooked up. The first gear drag race stuff really hurts."
In the companion Banner Engineering No. 06 GXP Leighton Reese and Marc Bunting are looking forward to bringing their well sorted ride to VIR.
"We were third their last year in the 07," Reese said. "It was our first natural road course with the GXP.R which was new last year. The rolling terrain of VIR brought out some visibility issues with the car -- we basically had trouble seeing out of the driver seat. So we had some tweaks to do on the car for the rest of the season. We will be strong there this year and it is a perfect track for the Pontiac, with all of the adjustability in the chassis. I will have Marc Bunting with me who is the 2006 GT champion and he likes the track."
Stevenson Motorsports pilots Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell come to the Virginia country side looking for their second win in as many races. The duo posted the teams first ever Grand-Am win in Mexico City just last Saturday.
"VIR is a great race track," Liddell said. "The course has a lot of hills and one that I get excited to driver every year. I think it is a real drivers track, it tends to separate the grid a little more. I also think it is a real chassis track as well. The combination of our strong driver lineup and the adjustability of the Pontiac makes it a good track for us. There are two straights and other than that you are spending a lot of time in the corners."
Autohaus Motorsports also has momentum coming into VIR. Lawson Aschenbach and Tim Lewis Jr. posted a fourth place last weekend in Mexico City, accounting for their top finish of the season.
"VIR has a lot of twisty high speed corners," Aschenbach said. "The GXP.R brakes and transitions well into the corners, which is just what you want when racing at VIR. The braking of the GXP.R is also really strong. I last raced there in a F2000 car, so I know the track and should be able to get comfortable in a hurry. VIR is a real fun track, it has every kind of turn, fast, slow, off-camber, it is great."
PR1 Motorsports has chosen VIR as one of their handful of selected events that they will run this year with their new GXP.R. The team had their first Grand-Am experience at Homestead-Miami Speedway last month. Mike Forest will partnered with newcomer Patrick Barrett in the No. 32 Pontiac.
"I'm really excited about competing in my first Grand-Am race this weekend," Barrett said. "I've been working extensively with PR1 Motorsports throughout the off season to develop our knowledge of the Pontiac GXP.R. The car is a big step up from the much lighter open wheel cars that I competed in last year, but I've been learning a lot about driving the heavy GT car."
Round four from VIR will be televised on the SPEED Channel, tape delayed, on May 3 at 12:00 p.m. ET.
-credit: gm racing/pontiac