Watkins Glen II: Race report

Theys and Magnussen Win Sahlen's 200 at The Glen; Establish New Rolex Series Record for Different Winners WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 13, 2004) -- In ever-changing weather conditions, the No. 27 Doran-Lista Racing team and Lexus Doran driver...

Theys and Magnussen Win Sahlen's 200 at The Glen; Establish New Rolex Series Record for Different Winners

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 13, 2004) -- In ever-changing weather conditions, the No. 27 Doran-Lista Racing team and Lexus Doran driver Jan Magnussen--who was running just outside the top five--rolled the dice and took on slick tires in a pit stop under caution on Lap 59 and the gamble paid off as the Dane passed the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley of Max Angelelli on Lap 67 of a 72-lap race for the lead and the victory in the Sahlen's 200 at The Glen.

With the triumph, Magnussen and co-driver Didier Theys became the fifth different team to earn an overall victory in 2004, setting a new Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series record for different winners in a single season. It was the ninth Rolex Series win for Doran-Lista Racing and was the team's first win since Mont-Tremblant in 2002. Doran-Lista Racing has also won at least one race in four of five seasons in Rolex Sports Car Series competition.

"I wanted slicks, but we saw there was a chance for a yellow," Magnussen said. "We talked about it for three seconds, and decided it was probably a good idea. I won't say it was great driving at the end, because it's easier to beat everybody when you have slicks and they're on wets. But, we won the race on the right decision at the right time."

With Theys behind the wheel of the No. 27 and Wayne Taylor holding the overall lead in the No. 10 on Lap 34, the skies opened up above Watkins Glen International and a torrential rain began falling on the 2.45-mile circuit. As the cars worked their way back to the pits for rain tires, several cars in various classes slid off course in Turn 11 and made contact with either another car or the Styrofoam barrier.

Among those involved in the incident was the No. 67 The Racer's Group Porsche GT3 RS and driver Kevin Buckler, who was transported to Arnot Ogden Medical Center in Elmira, N.Y. for precautionary x-rays. Buckler was awake and alert but was complaining of pain on the right side of his neck, his right shoulder and his right leg and was expected to be kept at the hospital overnight. No other drivers were injured.

While he wasn't involved in the Turn 11 melee, Theys spun in the treacherous conditions just past the incident scene at the entrance to pit road. The Belgian recovered and returned to his pit where the car was fitted with rain tires and Magnussen took over the controls.

"We learned the hard way last year," Theys said. "We stayed a little too long on the rain tires. We discussed it before the race; we know that this track gets dry very fast, even with the humidity. That's how we decided in the last yellow to go with slicks, even if it was hard for Jan on the first few laps, because the line was still kind of wet. I think it was the best strategy of the day."

While Magnussen's winning stop for slicks came on while he ran just outside the top five on Lap 59, Burt Frisselle--who was in a similar situation to Magnussen--brought the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Lexus Doran on to pit lane for the same reason one lap later, and was the only other driver on the lead lap to do so. The move also paid dividends for Frisselle and his co-driver, Oswaldo Negri Jr., as Frisselle charged through the pack to finish second, 10.887 seconds behind Magnussen. It was a Rolex Series career-best result for Frisselle and Negri.

"The last laps were really exciting," Frisselle said. "We went from seventh to second in ten minutes, running on a drying track in the dark making passes everywhere! It's just an unbelievable result for the team, which has worked so incredibly hard to give us the best car possible. It's great to be able to get it to the podium for them and for (team owner) Mike (Shank)."

"I am so happy and proud to drive for this team," Negri added. We put so much effort into every session, and we just haven't had the results to show for it. This is absolutely fantastic!"

Angelelli led the cars remaining on rain tires across the stripe in third place, and Oliver Gavin and Terry Borcheller made it three Doran chassis in the top four spots with a fourth place performance in the No. 54 Kodak Bell Motorsports Pontiac Doran. Co-points leaders Max Papis and Scott Pruett brought the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley home in fifth, snapping a streak of podium finishes at five consecutive races. Both the No. 01 (26 laps) and the No. 54 (eight laps) also led the race.

Brent Martini and Cort Wagner drove the No. 81 Rx.com/G&W Motorsports BMW Doran to a sixth-place result, giving Doran chassis four of the top six finishers.

SAID AND HAND SNAP NO. 21 WIN STREAK IN GT

In a tooth-and-nail battle throughout the Sahlen's 200, No. 22 Prototype Technology Group BMW M3 co-drivers Boris Said and Joey Hand brought the six-race class win streak for Bill Auberlen and the No. 21 PTG BMW M3 to an end. Hand pressured Auberlen through the first half of the race, while Said traded the class lead with Justin Marks in the No. 21 a few times in the closing laps before Said claimed the GT win.

The victory was vindication of sorts for Said, who will miss out on a chance to drive in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Sirius at The Glen race on Sunday due to a qualifying rainout earlier in the day.

"It feels good," Said remarked. "Joey did a great job. He was giving Bill (Auberlen) all kinds of hell in the No. 21. He and Justin were a riot. I'm not in the NEXTEL Cup race, so this is a small consolation. It feels great to win at Watkins Glen, it's my favorite track. I have to wait a long time to come back next year. It's like Santa took my Christmas away this year. You never know what's going to happen. I'll be around tomorrow, so maybe I'll pick up something."

"This is my first win in Grand American, my first GT win," added Hand. "It was really good. The track was dry for me. It was really good, the best I've had all year. At the end of the run, when it got really wet, it went yellow and I handed it off to Boris. I couldn't have handed it off to a better guy. It didn't look fun out there in the wet and darkness. He came through and gave us a win. I really needed it and looked forward to it."

Auberlen and Marks finished second in class, and Auberlen retains a four-point lead (253-249) over Said in the GT driver standings after eight of 12 events. Jay and Joe Policastro and Mike Fitzgerald finished third in the No. 44 Orbit Racing Porsche GT3 RS for their best result since taking third in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen in June.

LITTLECHILD AND PUMPELLY TAKE SGS CLASS WIN

No. 37 TPC Racing Porsche GT3 Cup co-drivers John Littlechild and Spencer Pumpelly claimed their first class victory of the season in the Sahlen's 200 at The Glen, topping their class-points-leading teammates Marc Bunting and Andy Lally in the No. 38 TPC Racing Porsche GT3 Cup. With the win, all three TPC Racing cars now have at least one SGS class victory this season.

"This is terrific," Littlechild said. "This is the first win for the season. The (TPC Racing owner) Michael Levitas-prepared Porsches are just wonderfully-prepared cars. They run fantastic. There's been two TPC Porsches on the podium the entire year. We want to keep this going. This track has been fantastic for Spencer. Last time at the Sahlen's Six Hours, we finished second. It's been a lucky track for us."

"It feels great," Pumpelly said. "We needed a win for the No. 37 car. It was great job by everyone at TPC. The conditions were really difficult, but the strategy in the pits was great. All the guys made the difference."

Bunting and Lally have now finished on the SGS podium in every race this season, and their second place run enabled them to stretch their points lead. Joe and Will Nonnamaker finished third in the No. 43 ORISON-Planet Earth Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup. Wayne Nonnamaker, who won the SGS class in each of the last two races, finished sixth in the No. 42 ORISON-Planet Earth Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Boris Said , Didier Theys , Max Papis , Wayne Taylor , Bill Auberlen , Joey Hand , Kevin Buckler , Wayne Nonnamaker , Will Nonnamaker , Andy Lally , Terry Borcheller , Oliver Gavin , Max Angelelli , Justin Marks , Burt Frisselle , Michael Levitas , Brent Martini , John Littlechild , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Chip Ganassi , Michael Shank , Cort Wagner
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Michael Shank Racing