Pontiac Grand-Am Teams Move South To Barber Motorsport Park Tight Points Battle In GT Pontiac Daytona Prototype (DP) and GT teams make their mid-summer appearance at Barber Motorsport Park for round ten of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series ...
Pontiac Grand-Am Teams Move South To Barber Motorsport Park
Tight Points Battle In GT
Pontiac Daytona Prototype (DP) and GT teams make their mid-summer appearance at Barber Motorsport Park for round ten of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve.
The picturesque 2.3-mile 16-turn country club of a race track will give the Pontiac competitors in the Rolex Series a challenge this weekend. The weather will be in the upper 90s with near 100% humidity taking the temperatures in the DP cars to nearly 125+ degrees Fahrenheit.
GAINSCO and their No. 99 Pontiac Riley will be looking to continue their winning ways after a slight stumble last weekend in Iowa. The Texas team has won the last three events at Watkins Glen, Mid-Ohio and Daytona from pole position. This is in addition to an early season win at Mexico City. The driving duo of Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney were also on the pole at Iowa, but a cracked header pipe relegated the fleeting pair to third.
"I had the pole at Barber in 2005," Gurney said. "In 2006 we led a lot of the race and then got caught out on strategy. The way that we have had the car handling the last four races, Barber should be another good track for us. The 75 car is always good there and so is the 10. It will be tricky to pass because these cars are so equal."
Wayne Taylor's SunTrust Pontiac team has been a fixture at the front of every Barber race to date. The team, with points contending driver Max Angelelli, won the race in 2005 and finished on the podium in '06. Angelelli welcomes back teammate Jonathan Cochet.
"We were second last year and won there in 2005," Angelelli said. "As a team we really do well at Barber. Qualifying there will be important because it is so hard to pass. The points chase is really tight as we get to the last third of the season. We need to keep running good, mistake free races to maximize our points."
Harrison Brix and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 39 Crown Royal Special Reserve Cheever Racing Pontiac Fabcar have had a learning curve the last two races. The team switched over to Pontiac power at Daytona, just three weeks ago, and the crew is still sorting through issues with the new Pontiac Fabcar combination.
"Barber should be a good track for our car," Fittipaldi said. "We ran well there last year and the guys should be able to carry that data over to this year. We have the extra test day on Thursday and we really need that to fine tune the Fabcar and Pontiac combination. A water leak at Iowa, shortened our race, but the guys are on top of the problem. I like the Barber circuit, it is a real drivers circuit and that is what I like."
Colin Braun and Max Papis in the No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley continue with consistent top five finishes, but have yet to crack the win column in 2007.
"We should be really good at Barber," Braun said. "We took the opportunity to test there and we made improvements over last year. The Pontiac motor has a lot of torque to get us off the tight turns and that is an advantage. It is a tough place to pass, so you will really have to get a good setup on the car to get off of the turns fast to get a run on the cars in front of you. I am looking forward to a good weekend. It is time for Colin and me to win."
The driver points battle in the GT ranks has been shuffled since Iowa. Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards went into round nine as the points leaders, they left the corn fields of Newton in second, trailing the leader by nine points.
"Barber is a good motorcycle track and an ok car circuit," Collins said. "The elevation change and tight turns make it a good place for our GXP.R, but it also makes the visibility tough. It is a pretty tight layout, so passing is difficult. Our cars have a lot of adjustability built in by the Pratt & Miller guys. This gives us lots of room to move on the setup which is an advantage for us at every track. We are in the championship hunt, so every point is important for the rest of the season."
Leighton Reese and Tim Lewis Jr. are taking their No. 06 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R to Alabama on the wave of a second place finish at Iowa Speedway two-days ago.
"It will be hot and muggy," Reese said. "Barber is a race track in the middle of a country club, a beautiful facility. The track layout should really suit our GXP.R racers. The more turns the better. The GTO.R won there last year, so we hope to add another notch to the Pontiac win column. Each corner has its own little nuances, so car setup is the key. It is a real drivers track."
-credit: gm racing