Watkins Glen: Race report

Jonsson & Krohn Lead 1-2 Sweep for Krohn Racing/TRG in Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 12, 2005) -- Nic Jonsson picked a fine time to lead his first laps of the 2005 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series season, as he...

Jonsson & Krohn Lead 1-2 Sweep for Krohn Racing/TRG in Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 12, 2005) -- Nic Jonsson picked a fine time to lead his first laps of the 2005 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series season, as he motored his No. 67 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley past teammate Christian Fittipaldi and into the lead with slightly more than four laps remaining to take the victory in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen.

In a race that saw weather conditions change from hot and humid to heavy rain, Jonsson and co-driver Tracy Krohn charged from 17th on the starting grid to a top-five spot in the race's final hour. As the other front-runners encountered difficulties, Jonsson continued moving forward as the laps wound down. When Michael McDowell spun out of second place with fewer than 10 laps remaining, the stage was set for a 1-2 showing for the Krohn Racing/TRG team with Fittipaldi holding the lead and Jonsson in second.

However, Jonsson would not be satisfied by finishing second to his teammate. On Lap 146 of the 150-lap event, the Swede made his move by sweeping to the inside of Fittipaldi in Turn 8 of the famous Watkins Glen International "boot" section and taking over the lead. Once past Fittipaldi, Jonsson would not be challenged as he opened up a 15.758-second advantage over the Brazilian on his way to victory.

"We have been struggling all week with the set up on the car in dry conditions and we were not really prepared for that," Jonsson said. "We had been struggling in dry conditions, but for the race we made some changes and it worked, so I thought we had a top-five or top-six car. When it started raining I thought, 'the car feels very good.' We were able to take it home."

Although Jonsson had a SRP II class victory at Phoenix International Raceway in 2001, the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen was his first career overall win in Rolex Series competition. The win came in his 15th career Rolex Series start, and Jonsson is in his first full Rolex Series season. Krohn also had plenty of reasons to celebrate, as he not only collected his first career Rolex Series victory as a driver, it was also his first series win as a team co-owner. In addition, it was the first 1-2 sweep by a team since Brumos Racing swept the top two spots at Mont-Tremblant in September, 2003.

"We've worked on this all week long and really the last three races we have knocked on the door and had some bad luck," Krohn said. "We just had to maintain our patience when a lot of things went wrong with the car during the race, especially when we lost communication (on the first driver change of the race). The track was going away from us all day long, but Nic just did an outstanding job. What a great day it has been for this team."

Fittipaldi and his No. 66 Pontiac Riley co-driver Jorg Bergmeister combined to lead 23 laps in the race. The runner-up result was Fittipaldi's first podium result in Rolex Series competition since he co-drove to victory in the 2004 Rolex 24 At Daytona. It was also his second-straight top-five result, following a fifth-place showing in the 6 Heures du Circuit Mont-Tremblant last month.

"We had the car up at the front all day," Fittipaldi said. "In my first stint after the pit stop, Jorg was somewhere out of the top 10 and I was able to turn the car back over to Jorg in third. The car was not all there handling wise in the dry. I think the softer setup we had under the car really helped us in the rain. I knew Nic was coming and he passed me into (Turn) 8, being teammates I didn't want to get too defensive."

The second-place run was Bergmeister's best result of the season, topping a third-place performance in Round 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with co-driver Max Papis in early March. It was the German's third top-five result of the season, and he has not failed to finish outside the top 10 through the first six races of 2005.

"In the mixed weather conditions the car was really good," Bergmeister said. "I could charge to the front of the field and be fairly aggressive. In the dry we had a big push and we had to be careful not to use up too much of the tires. I was in the toe of the boot when it started to pour rain and it all came at once. Second is a good finish for us. Congratulations to Tracy, he has assembled a group of professionals and Nic did a great job all day."

After combining to lead a race-high 46 laps, No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley co-drivers Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz were fortunate to escape with a third-place result. When the skies opened up for the first time, Diaz slid off course in the "boot" and hit by the No. 58 Red Bull-Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcar when it spun off at the same time.

Diaz managed to keep the car running and hustled back to the pits. The team changed tires and got Pruett back behind the wheel without losing a lap, although he was in ninth place with roughly one hour remaining. In the waning laps, Pruett was able to work his way forward and survived a last-lap charge by McDowell to secure the third-place result.

It was the fourth-consecutive podium result for Pruett and Diaz, and their performance coupled with a sixth-place showing by No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley co-drivers Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli moved them into a four-way tie for the lead in the Daytona Prototype driver standings. After six of 14 races in the 2005 Rolex Series season, Angelelli, Taylor, Pruett and Diaz are tied with 180 points apiece.

McDowell and co-driver Memo Gidley brought the No. 19 Make A Wish/Air Force Reserve/Commercial Defeasance BMW Riley home in fourth place for the second-consecutive race. The Finlay Motorsports co-drivers kept the No. 19 machine among the leaders throughout the six hours of racing, and it looked for a time that theirs might be the car to beat when McDowell led for 13 laps. McDowell spun out of the lead in treacherous conditions, however, ending the team's chances at the victory.

Stefan Johansson and Cort Wagner co-drove the No. 02 New Century Mortgage Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley to a fifth-place result. It was their third top-five result and their fifth top-seven showing in six races this season. Wagner also led for nine laps late in the running before a late trip to pit lane ended the No. 02 team's hopes for victory.

Angelelli led 28 laps in the race and clawed past Butch Leitzinger's No. 4 The Boss Snowplow Pontiac Crawford on the final lap to secure sixth place and a share of the Daytona Prototype points lead for himself and Taylor. Leitzinger's co-driver, Elliott Forbes-Robinson, also had the Howard-Boss Motorsports machine out front for four laps on the way to a seventh-place result. It was also a strong outing for the No. 39 Jim Matthews Racing/Orbit Pontiac Riley driving trio of Guy Smith and Marcel Tiemann, as they combined to lead 21 laps on their way to an eighth-place result.

KEEN, FRIEDMAN AND HENZLER TAKE THRILLING GT VICTORY AT THE GLEN

In a pulse-pounding GT battle, Wolf Henzler in the No. 14 Autometrics Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup passed Andy Lally in the No. 65 Auto Gallery/TRG Porsche GT3 Cup with only three laps remaining to take the lead and the class victory in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen.

Lally and co-driver Marc Bunting started first in the class after the GT pole sitting No. 36 TPC Racing Porsche GT3 Cup of Randy Pobst was sent to the back for a technical infraction, while Henzler and co-drivers Leh Keen and Cory Friedman started the No. 14 in fifth. Both cars were able to avoid difficulties caused by the rainy conditions that plagued many of the top GT teams to fight for the victory.

"It was unbelievable how slippery the track was, "Keen said. "I was lucky not to go flying off like everyone else did and was able to put a good run in."

Lally claimed the lead with about 20 minutes to go, but in the end, he was unable to hold off a very determined Henzler.

"I didn't know the No. 65 was in the lead, so I got on the radio to find out his location," Henzler said. "The team told me he had the lead, so I said that I would take him, which I was able to do."

With their second-place finish, Lally and Bunting move up one spot in the GT points championship. They trail No. 80 Synergy Racing Porsche driver Craig Stanton by 15 points (171-156). Stanton and co-driver David Murry overcame an off-course excursion to finish sixth and keep Stanton in the GT points lead.

"It was a really wild and traumatic race," Lally said. "We had a great battle. (Henzler) did a superb job in the wet. I respect that guy a lot. He had us and we had a pretty good lead on third, so we were able to hold our ground and gain in the points championship."

"We had a good day," Bunting said. "We were concerned with over heating issues and we definitely lost power because of a cracked header. We were down on power because of that but other than that it was great. We had a battle there at the end."

No. 16 BMW Team PTG M3 drivers Tom Milner and Justin Marks finished third for the second race in-a-row, while Jim Tafel, Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis finished fourth in the No. 73 Tafel Racing Porsche GT3 Cup. Greg Wilkins, Dave Lacey and Kenny Wilden finished fifth in the No. 61 SAMAX/Doncaster Racing Porsche GT3.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Krohn Racing