Rolex 24 Race Report: Another Podium Finish For Pontiac ...
Rolex 24 Race Report: Another Podium Finish For Pontiac
#65 TRG Pontiac GTO.R Finishes Second at World-Famous Endurance Race; Three Daytona Prototype Pontiacs Finish in Top 10 in Class
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - 24 hours of intense racing came to a close with Pontiac taking honors for the third consecutive year. In its debut Rolex 24 At Daytona (of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series), the #65 TRG Pontiac GTO.R of Andy Lally, Marc Bunting, R. J. Valentine and Johnny O'Connell finished second in the GT class (and tenth overall) behind the #36 TPC Racing Porsche of Randy Pobst, Michael Levitas, Ian Baas and Spencer Pumpelly.
"It was a really tough, demanding race and it was close," said Andy Lally. "We had some gearbox issues but for the most part we had no problems and may have won had it not been for that. I have to take my hats off to the guys who made this car run nearly flawlessly for 24 hours."
The #64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R, sister car to the #65 car - also in its debut 24-hour race - finished but suffered a broken suspension component on lap 246 and due to time spent on repairs, finished 58 laps behind the leading GT car. Paul Edwards, Kelly Collins, Jan Magnussen and Andy Pilgrim drove the car to a 12th in class finish.
Pontiac's Daytona Prototype efforts were not as successful as last year's 1-2-3 finish with SunTrust Racing at the top, but six out of 13 Pontiac DPs made it across the finish line with three in the top 10. The #75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley of Tracy Krohn, Jorg Bergmeister, Nic Jonsson and Colin Braun finished a solid fifth; at eighth place was the #7 CITGO Racing by SAMAX Pontiac Riley of Dario Franchitti, Milka Duno, Marino Franchitti and Kevin McGarrity and at 10th in class was the #16 Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford of Chris Dyson, Rob Dyson, Oliver Gavin and Guy Smith.
"We managed to squeeze into the top five," said Tracy Krohn, Krohn Racing team owner and co-driver. "This is our first Rolex 24 finish and it's a very good one at that. I'm really proud of my team - they did a great job. We had our share of mechanical issues but our motor lasted without problems the whole race."
Winners of the race were Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon and Casey Mears in their #02 Target Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley. With this victory, Mears has become the first full-time current NASCAR driver to win a Rolex 24 At Daytona.
The #99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing of Alex Gurney, Bob Stallings, Jimmy Vassar and Rocky Moran, Jr. experienced multiple mechanical problems but soldiered on to finish the race at 24th. It was a poignant moment for Gurney especially; although he finished lower than he would have liked, it was his first 24-hour race at Daytona. His father, road racing legend Dan Gurney, won the first endurance race (three hours long) held here in 1962.
The team of #4 Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford was seriously hampered by electrical problems but they too managed to finish, at 33rd. Guest driver Tony Stewart, 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup champion (who co-drove here with Andy Wallace and Butch Leitzinger) commented highly on the determination of the team.
"I'm really proud of this crew," said Stewart. "To have to change seven alternators through 24 hours and try to keep getting batteries in for the power steering and everything. They did an awesome job. They never quit. This is the most determined team I've ever seen in my life. I'm just really, really proud of this Boss car."
"All of our teams in both DP and GT worked very hard in this race of all races," said Mark Kent, director of GM Racing. "But many teams - both ours and those of our competitors - had strokes of bad luck and Grand American's new competition adjustments don't favor cars with 5.0 L engines. Our Daytona Prototypes fall under that category and we felt the effects in this first race of 2006. We're still confident that we'll have a good season and we're very much looking forward to the next race in Mexico City."