SCC: Utah Miller Motorsports Park Saturday summary

Matos, James, Pew Win SunRichGourmet.com 1000 at Miller Motorsports Park TOOELE VALLEY, UTAH (September 20, 2008) -- Raphael Matos bookended the 2008 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 season. After winning...

Matos, James, Pew Win SunRichGourmet.com 1000 at Miller Motorsports Park

TOOELE VALLEY, UTAH (September 20, 2008) -- Raphael Matos bookended the 2008 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 season. After winning the GT class in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona back in January, Matos made his return to the series by winning in his first Daytona Prototype start at Miller Motorsports Park on Saturday.

Matos joined regular drivers Ian James and John Pew to give the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley its first Rolex Series victory in the SunRichGourmet.com 1000 presented by The Grand and Little America Hotels. The team became the third first-time Daytona Prototype winner in three races at Miller Motorsports Park.

Meanwhile, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas wrapped up the 2008 Daytona Prototype championship with a ninth-place finish in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley, joined by Alex Lloyd.

The 137-lap race on the 4.486-mile circuit saw 16 lead changes among 14 drivers and 10 cars. A record nine of the 10 lead-lap finishers led the race. However, Matos pulled away on the restart following the sixth and final caution. He led the final 28 laps - most in the event - cruising to a 29.398-second margin of victory over the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Dallara of Max Angelelli and Michael Valiante.

"The car was very strong at the end of the race and that's why I was able to pull a gap," said Matos, the recently-crowned 2008 IRL Firestone Indy Lights championship. "I love this series and I love the cars. I love driving them. I had a great team - Mike Shank did an amazing job, and John Pew and Ian James did a great job. The crew had an amazing pit stop, and that's what put us in first position. This is a happy moment for everyone and a great way to finish the season."

Michael Shank Racing scored its first victory at Miller in 2006 when Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson took the team's No. 60 entry to victory. That was their first triumph until the most recent Rolex Series race, when Negri and Patterson brought the No. 60 Ford Riley to victory lane at New Jersey Motorsports Park.

Fogarty and Alex Gurney concluded their season as the reigning series champions in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley with Jimmy Vasser, taking third place. The outgoing titlists won once in 2008.

Joao Barbosa and JC France finished fourth for the fifth time in six races in the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley, taking third in the final team standings behind the No. 01 and No. 99 teams.

Polesitter Ricardo Zonta and Nic Jonsson finished fifth in the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola. The race was marked by a mid-race deluge that led to five laps under caution, although the track quickly dried as the precipitation dissipated.

Pruett and Rojas drove a consistent - but not completely trouble-free - race, finishing ninth in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley. The car spun twice, yet with a season-high six victories, Pruett and Rojas only needed to complete 30 minutes each to share the championship. Pruett drove the first stint from the second starting position, driving 90 minute before Rojas got in. Alex Lloyd, the 2007 Firestone Indy Lights champion, also earned seat time.

In the GT class, race winners Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards took the class honors in their No. 07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R and claimed the championship, winning by more than a lap over Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis, second in the final points. Edwards took the lead late in the race and distanced himself enough to make a late splash for fuel without losing the lead. Edwards and Collins won the championship by nine points after winning a season-best four times.

Davis and Liddell, who won three times this season, earned their ninth podium finish in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R, but it was not enough for the title. Andy Lally, Patrick Long and Rolex Series Rookie of the Year Tim George Jr. finished third in the No. 67 TRG Porsche GT3.

In qualifying for the KONI Challenge Series, Kris Wilson took the Grand Sports (GS) class pole position with a track-record lap at 3:08.703 (85.582 mph) in the No. 25 C-MAX/Unitech Porsche 997 he co-drives with David Riddle and David Russell. It was Wilson's second consecutive pole, having taken the top spot in qualifying two weeks ago at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Scott Schroeder was second-quickest, clocking a lap at 3:09.606 (85.175 mph) in the No. 41 TRG Carlsen Porsche/Cohen Financial Porsche 997 that he shares with Andy Lally. Schroeder's teammate, Duncan Ende, was third in the No. 39 Carlsen Porsche/The DigiTrust Group Porsche 997 with a time of 3:09.727 (85.120 mph). Ende co-drives the car with Spencer Pumpelly.

In the Street Tuner (ST) class, In ST, Owen Trinkler took pole with a time of 3:15.609 (82.560 mph), which was 0.033 seconds quicker than Dion von Moltke's time of 3:15.642 (82.546 mph). Trinkler co-drives the No. 196 RSR Motorsports Cruise America, Inc./Casetech Mini Cooper S with BJ Zacharias, while von Moltke co-drives the No. 171 APR Motorsport APR/BBS Volkswagen GTI with Ian Baas. Both teams - which field three cars each - are looking for their first-ever KONI Challenge Series ST victories.

Finnish rookie Markus Niemela retained his first career Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda pole position for Sunday's race. Niemela will start from the pole in the No. 8 Mr. Jones Bar & Kitchen/Rauma Town/Turku Karting machine for Brooks Associates Racing by virtue of a lap at 2:28.915 (108.448 mph) set in Friday's provisional qualifying session. Windy conditions and cooler temperatures prevented virtually everybody from posting a quicker time in final qualifying, allowing Niemela to take it somewhat easy. He will attempt to capture his first career Atlantic race victory on Sunday.

Joining Niemela on the front row will be American rookie Jonathan Summerton in the No. 36 Newman Wachs Racing entry, with Dane Cameron completing the top three in the No. 19 MAZDASPEED/Finlay Motorsports/Lynx Racing entry for Genoa Racing.

In the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup race, polesitter Brad Rampelberg made an impressive comeback in his No. 14 Hooverspeed/Mazda Patron Tequila MX-5 to win after a poor start dropped him to seventh place. Robert Huffmaster was second in the No. 27 Team MER/Huffmaster Co. MX-5 and Ara Malkhassian completed the podium in the No. 11 Alara Racing MX-5.

Sunday's action begins with final practice for the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge for the Miller Cup at 8:30 am. Warm-ups the Atlantic Championship follow at 9:30 am, with qualifying for the second Mustang Challenge race at 10:15 am. The 2.5-hour KONI Challenge Series race, with a massive 70-car field, will take the green flag at 11:15 am. The weekend will conclude with races for the Atlantic Championship (2:30 pm) and Mustang Challenge (3:45 pm) series.

In addition to the on-track action, there will be a myriad of off-track activities for fans to enjoy. The Miller Kart Track will be open for concession rentals, and there will be helicopter rides available from Park City Helitours, Skid Car rides from MMP's Miller Performance Training Center and rock-crawler rides from Ben Hanks Racing on MMP's new offroad course. In addition, there will be freestyle motocross and stunt bike exhibitions, plus live music.

Sunday's Grandstand tickets are priced at $40 with General Admission priced at $25. Kids 12 and under are free in General Admission areas.

For tickets or information regarding Miller Motorsports Park, call 435-277-RACE (7223) or visit the track's website at www.MillerMotorsportsPark.com.

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About this article
Series Atlantic , Grand-Am , Road racing , SCCA
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Krohn Racing , Stevenson Motorsports , Michael Shank Racing , Alara Racing