VIR: Toyota Lexus preview

Lexus Drivers Take Points Lead Into VIR 400 TORRANCE, Calif. (Sept. 28, 2004) - With just three races remaining in the title chase, Lexus-powered drivers Scott Pruett and Max Papis hold an eight-point lead over their closest challengers heading...

Lexus Drivers Take Points Lead Into VIR 400

TORRANCE, Calif. (Sept. 28, 2004) - With just three races remaining in the title chase, Lexus-powered drivers Scott Pruett and Max Papis hold an eight-point lead over their closest challengers heading into this weekend's Grand American Rolex Series VIR 400 Presented by SunTrust at the Virginia International Raceway.

Pruett and Papis' #01 CompUSA Lexus is just one of three Lexus-powered teams currently in the top-five in the team standings. They're joined by the #6 Michael Shank Racing Lexus and the #27 Doran-Lista Racing Lexus. All three teams are still mathematically in the title chase.

In addition to the team and drivers championships, Lexus is currently in second-place in the Manufacturer's Championship in its first season of Daytona Prototype competition, only five points out of the top spot after winning four of the last six races.

Yet, when the prototypes take to the track this weekend, it's Pruett and Papis who will be in the catbird seat. The duo have utilized three victories and three second-place finishes to maintain the series points lead since the fourth race of the season at Mont-Tremblant. With just three races remaining, a win and a pair of second-place finishes would clinch the series title.

While Papis and Pruett were the pre-season favorites for the title, Michael Shank Racing (MSR) has certainly snuck up on the competition in its first season of sports car racing. The little team from Columbus, Ohio, has earned a pair of top-five finishes in the last two races by Oswaldo Negri and Burt Frisselle to keep their championship hopes alive. For the season, the team has registered eight top-eight finishes in nine races.

Right behind the MSR team in fifth-place is Doran-Lista Racing. Doran-Lista heads to VIR with a new driver as former Formula One driver Andrea Montermini will join lead driver Didier Theys behind the wheel of the team's #27 Lexus for the next two races. Montermini had 28 Formula One starts from 1994 through 1996 and also has campaigned in CART, as well as at Le Mans and the Rolex 24. This will be Montermini's second stint with the team as he co-drove to three victories with Doran-Lista in 1997.

Jimmy Morales and Luis Diaz make up the fourth Lexus-powered entry in the #02 CompUSA Ganassi team car to Pruett and Papis. They're coming off a strong fourth-place finish at Homestead - the pair's fourth top-four finish of the season.

Qualifying is set for Saturday at 1:05 p.m. EDT and Sunday's VIR 400 Presented by SunTrust can be seen live on SPEED beginning at 12 noon.

-toyota-

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Didier Theys , Max Papis , Scott Pruett , Luis Diaz , Andrea Montermini , Burt Frisselle , Jimmy Morales , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Michael Shank
Teams Michael Shank Racing