Up and Down Weekend at the Glen for CompUSA Watkins Glen, New York, August 14th, 2004 -- With rain wrecking havoc and washing out the qualifying session taking place on the hilly Watkins Glen 2.45 mile short permanent road course, CompUSA...
Up and Down Weekend at the Glen for CompUSA
Watkins Glen, New York, August 14th, 2004 -- With rain wrecking havoc and washing out the qualifying session taking place on the hilly Watkins Glen 2.45 mile short permanent road course, CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates driver Max Papis started from the pole position for a second consecutive race in the No. 01 Lexus Riley for Friday's Sahlen's 200, based on Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series team points while CompUSA teammates, no.02 Lexus Riley driver Jimmy Morales started from ninth spot on the grid.
Papis and No.01 teammate Scott Pruett were going for their second consecutive win following last weekend's triumph in the EMCO Gears Mid-Ohio Road Racing Classic. They also won the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen earlier this year on the 3.4-mile long course at Watkins Glen International. No.02 CompUSA drivers Luis Diaz and Morales were hoping to improve on their third place podium finishes in both those races as well.
The ever-changing weekend weather conditions ended up playing a big part in the outcome of the race as the Watkins Glen track, notorious for drying very quickly, even with the humidity, began to show a dry line in the final laps of the race.
Just as the leaders drove passed the pit entrance with 12 laps left in the race, the no.01 CompUSA Lexus Riley among them, a caution was thrown. The cars behind them took a gamble and dove into the pits for slicks. That paid off for the No. 27 Daytona Prototype driven by Jan Magnussen (and co-driver Didier Theys), who was running just outside the top five at the time, giving the Dane the chance to pass the No. 10 car driven by Max Angelelli on Lap 67 of a 72-lap race for the lead and the victory in the Sahlen's 200 at The Glen. The No.27 Daytona Prototype becomes the fifth different car and 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.
Papis and Pruett brought the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley home in fifth, snapping a streak of podium finishes at five consecutive races.
"I had a great battle with the no.10 car," said Papis who has qualified on pole three times this season. "We were dicing and we were really, really pleased with what we were doing. We just kept him in control. We didn't really have the speed to stay in front, but I had the speed to actually catch him when I tried. Scott got back in the car and it started raining. It looks like we just limited the damage towards the end of the race. It was a good close race and we played it smart driving for the championship when the win was out of range."
"It was a conservative run and we did what we had to do," said Pruett who along with Papis continue to maintain a lead in the Rolex Series Championship. "We're in this for the championship so we didn't take any big chances but we ran hard. We could have gambled a little more I suppose, but if we did give up a few points, it was to some of the guys that really aren't in the hunt for the championship. We kept our eye on the no.10 car and they finished just one spot ahead of us. All in all it was it a strong race for us. We had to come out of here unscathed without taking a chance on tearing up the car and that's what we did."
Not long after the green flag waved, the race turned into a bit more of a challenge for No.02 CompUSA Lexus Riley duo of Jimmy Morales and Luis Diaz. With a chance to pass a competitor on the fourth lap, Morales's competitive nature got him off course and into a gravel trap. By the time all was said and done, the CompUSA Daytona Prototype had fallen 3 laps down but Luis Diaz used his stint in the car to make up as much time as possible bringing the No.02 car across the finish line 10th in class and 12th overall.
"The car was pretty good and fast when it needed to be and to be honest, we felt we had the car to fight at the front with but unfortunately we had a problem at the beginning of the race and it became my job was to drive cleanly, bring the car home and learn from this race," says Diaz who, along with his teammate, hope to score that first season win with four races left in the season. "I still did the best that I could to try to get back among the leaders and I'm happy with the job that I did for our team. Unfortunately luck was not on our side, but we're still up to every challenge and we'll work hard to make up some spots through to the end of the season."
The CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team will return to Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida, Sept. 10-12, for the Miami 250. This will be the series' second trip of the season to the track's 2.3-mile road course.
Fans of CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates can follow the team's progress throughout race weekends by logging on to the GrandAmerican.com website for free Zippo live timing results and are invited to keep up with the team's successes by logging onto their official website at chipganassiracing.com for news, features, photos and much more.