DC - The morning after, Mexico City

RECOVERY THE MORNING AFTER It's really pretty strange to hear Billy Joel's recorded song, "The Piano Man," reverberating throughout the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez' front-straight grandstands at daybreak, Sunday. As if to make some sort of...



It's really pretty strange to hear Billy Joel's recorded song, "The Piano Man," reverberating throughout the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez' front-straight grandstands at daybreak, Sunday.

As if to make some sort of point, whoever was making like a DJ immediately played it a second time.

This old guy prefers to hear the song with an alcoholic beverage in hand and while that's what this former party guy did a long, long time ago in a faraway galaxy, it isn't something of which he's disposed in the present day.


Pointed out by Mike Shank on Friday, just one set of Pirelli Grand Am P-Zero tires will buy a bunch of diesel fuel for a transporter - and he's got two of them.

On the other hand, tires provide a slightly-bigger-than-a-bread box contact patch upon which a Riley Daytona Prototype (or a Pontiac GXP.R, for that matter) relies for friction - to go fast; to corner efficiently; and, to stop quickly.

The whole reason behind the above juxtaposition arose as a result of the paddock's both liked and disliked Rolex Series tire policy, wherein for race weekends a professional driver-only team is issued a fixed number of tires, while a team having a "gentleman driver" gets one additional set.

The additional set theoretically is mounted for an event-weekend practice session devoted solely to that less-than-pro-level driver. However, such is not mandated.

An example - again utilizing Shank's operation - "gentleman" (loosely applied) Mark Patterson is paired with "professional" (not loosely applied) Oswaldo Negri Jr. in the MSR No. 60 Westfield Insurance Ford-Riley MkXX.

While the number of tires per team depends on the race event (two-day, three-day, etc.), at AHR the teams were issued either five or six sets of Pirelli P-Zero tires.

Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, each assuredly having "pro" status, got five sets of tires for their Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix (y Jose) Sabates No. 01 Telmex Lexus-Riley.

With about 30-minutes remaining in Saturday's race, the Telmex car was altogether "out" of tire, thus likely providing Pruett with a mantra that went something along the lines of, "Make it to the finish; make it to the finish; make it to the finish; just, puh-leeze, make it to the finish!"

In front of him was eventual first-place finisher Marc Goossens in the Bob Stallings/Riley-Matthews Motorsports' No. 91 Pontiac Riley MkXX, in which "gentleman" Jim Matthews started the race.

Lest anyone jump to any untoward conclusions, Goossens, who strapped into the car at about the halfway point, was singing a similar tune while at the same time being pressed by one of the sports' best hound dogs: Pruett.

In turn and in a similar circumstance, right behind Pruett was Ricardo Zonta in Krohn Racing's No. 76 Pontiac-Lola.

Those three cars would run nose-to-tail through most of the race's final run, which went caution-free from Lap 51 to the 100th and final lap - 49-laps of green-flag racing and, at the finish, the three were separated by less than one-second.

Imagine the race finish had the top-three drivers been on fresher rubber.

Imagine, also, how many fewer miles Shank's hauler would've traveled had unlimited tires been available or, jumping on a popular bandwagon, the amount of petroleum (not to mention air pollutants and mosquito breeding grounds) saved by not "burning up" still more tires because, racers being racers, more rubber certainly would've been sold had it been available.


Simply: the GAINSCO Insurance No. 99 Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley MkXX was doing a great job of positioning itself for a potential win until a mid-race pit stop went awry.

In a race that in 2007 went without a caution and which it also won, the Gainsco team was expecting a similar race to unfold this year. Between seeing only three yellows and only during the race's first half, the team was pretty close to being correct.

With driver Alex Gurney ready to relieve Jon Fogarty, the latter was called into the pits just as the race's second caution flag was unfurled.

Executed properly - something the GAINSCO team has repeatedly accomplished - the stop would've almost certainly put the team in the top-three spots for the following green flag.

In one of those split-second situations which seem only to arise when such isn't at all desired, Alex Job Racing's No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Porsche-Crawford pulled from its pit to rejoin the fray and so discombobulated Gainsco's stop that Fogarty had to continue his totally undesired, leisurely cruise through the pits for yet another pit-stop try one lap later.

As an eventual fourth-place finishing Gurney would show, the car was fully capable of playing up front but the second-generation driver would use up a lot of rubber to get within and for many laps stay less than one-second off the race-leader's pace.

With the Ruby Tuesday team contending at the time and each team doing exactly as supposed, it's hard to find fault with anyone.


Surprised at all over the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola's showing at AHR?

Just when people were starting to associate the "D" word with buying a new Daytona Prototype, up-and-comes The Green Monster (with all due respect to late drag racer Art Arfons, the original "Green Monster").

Driver Nic Jonsson qualified seventh and co-driver Ricardo Zonta brought their Lola home in third - 0.958-of-one-second behind the race winner.

Even the No. 75 Lola, driven by Tracy Krohn and Eric van de Poele, would at race-end improve its start-finish position by seven spots - the field's fifth-best overall start-finish improvement.


Unless working under some sort of "gun," check-writing types might want to hold on to their ink and paper just a tad longer so as to see the new Crawford in action - at some point.

First there was the Rolex 24 at Daytona; then the GAINSCO Auto Insurance Miami Grand Prix - each time DP fans hoping to see the new Crawford DP08 in the form of the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday.

The DP08 bodywork a no-show at each, the May 16-17 Rumbum.com 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca soon settled into the sights of whoever anxiously awaited the car's introduction.

Now, that dog won't hunt, either.

This writer, assuredly gun shy on the subject, has now learned the Ruby Tuesday will introduce the new Crawford at the June 6-7 Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen.

Having done as well as they have with the original Crawford, it'll be a gas to see the AJR team at work with the newest version.

Here's hope it really does show up for The Glen.


Watching a nearby television as the TELMEX and GAINSCO cars traded paint and rubber going down the AHR front stretch, two longtime Rolex Series fans turned to each other, grinned and said, "Just like the good ol' days!"


Early in the Mexico City race, Ken Swan, team manager for the AHR-winning No. 91 Bob Stallings/Riley Matthews Motorsports Pontiac Riley, sprinted to the team's hauler and hauled out a relic - a pit board - after driver Jim Matthews lost radio communication with the pits - later determined to be caused by a disconnected helmet plug.

"I had to get it out of the attic," Swan said. "I guess it's good we haven't cleaned it out, lately."


Witnessed by the masses on SPEEDtv, the No. 7 Rum Bum BMW-Riley and the SunTrust No. 10 Pontiac-Dallara tangled heavily while attempting to occupy the same race-track space, respectively producing last and next-to-last race finishes for the cars.

Max Angelelli was in his familiar SunTrust seat after co-driver Michael Valiante starting. In the Rum Bum was Matt Plumb, who took the wheel from Gene Sigal.

Surprisingly, each driver claimed the other was at fault.

Chasing down other exciting, behind-the-scenes stuff, this writer thankfully wasn't in a position to see either "reality" or replay.

He did see the damage wrought, though.

"Two races and two crashes," Wayne Taylor dejectedly said of the team's new Dallara, which debuted in the season's second race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, crashing (clashing?) with the No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche-Riley on Lap-43.

The Rum Bum team couldn't have been much happier, either, having announced just hours before a season-long sponsorship deal with Rum Bum.

With next week's April 27 Bosch Engineering 250 still on the schedule at VIRginia International Raceway, the SunTrust and Rum Bum teams for hours feverishly worked to assess and repair whatever damage as was possible - directly side by side in the AHR paddock.

Having had a barrel full of action almost everywhere, next year's Mexico City race just won't come soon enough for this guy.

    DC Williams, exclusively for Motorsport.com

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About this article
Series General , Grand-Am
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams Williams , Chip Ganassi Racing , Krohn Racing , Alex Job Racing