Daytona II: DP round 8, GT round 9 preview

Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype, GT Teams Looking For Third Straight Wins at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 3, 2007) -- A typical season of Grand-Am parity has not kept two Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by...

Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype, GT Teams Looking For Third Straight Wins at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 3, 2007) -- A typical season of Grand-Am parity has not kept two Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve teams from winning multiple races, and both are hoping for their third consecutive victories in Daytona Prototype and GT competition in Thursday's Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway (SPEED, Live at 8 p.m. ET).

GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing (Daytona Prototype) and TRG Porsche (GT) both won the third races in their particular divisions one race ago in the EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and each is hoping for victory number four after struggling earlier this season in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. In addition to winning two straight races, drivers of both teams have also made their way into fourth-place championship ties.

Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty have taken the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley to new heights. After winning for the first time at Mexico City, they won their first endurance race in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen and dominated one week later at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Their Mid-Ohio race was nearly perfect as they set a track qualifying record, the race's fast lap and led all but six laps of the 111-lap event. Both are eager to return to Daytona -- where they started their current seven-race streak starting from the front row -- after finishing a season-worst 22nd there in January after starting on the pole.

While Gurney and Fogarty have been strong all season, championship points leader Scott Pruett has done his part to keep the points lead in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley. The co-winner of the Rolex 24 with Juan Pablo Montoya and Salvador Duran, Pruett joined forces with Memo Rojas starting at Mexico City, and the duo has not finished worse than eighth since. Pruett -- who has finished in the top 10 in a dozen consecutive races dating back to last year -- is still looking for a record 14th overall victory, and with Rojas, is still to end a string of three straight runner-up finishes with the car's second victory of 2007. Pruett owns an 11-point lead over Max Angelelli (212-201), while Rojas currently holds sole possession of third in the standings.

Angelelli, in the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley, has been close to winning multiple races this season as well. He won round four at Virginia International Raceway, and could have won the Sahlen's Six Hour had two early restarts not cost him to serve drive-through penalties. That race was Angelelli's first with Jonathan Cochet, who will continue to co-drive the car this weekend.

As he did for the Rolex 24 At Daytona, reigning NASCAR Nextel Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson will return to the controls of the No. 91 Riley-Matthews Motorsports Pontiac Riley. Johnson is scheduled to drive the car with co-owner Jim Matthews and Marc Goossens, whom Johnson ironically competed against in the recent NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. The trio, along with Ryan Hunter-Reay and Jim Matthews, started third but finished 19th in class in the Rolex 24.

Defending Brumos Porsche 250 co-winner Colin Braun hopes he and Max Papis can take the No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley to its first victory of 2007. With two runner-up finishes and two poles, the pair is the highest in the championship point standings yet to win a Daytona Prototype race this season. Their No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley teammates, Tracy Krohn and Nic Jonsson, are also hoping to improve on their season-best finish of fifth, which came in the Sahlen's Six Hour. The duo, along with by Boris Said in the Rolex 24, finished 13th in Daytona Prototypes.

One team that has been quiet yet consistent this season has been the No. 11 SAMAX/CITGO Pontiac Riley. Strong preparation has helped the team record four top-five finishes, including a season-best second in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. That effort was anchored by the team's lead driver, Patrick Carpentier, who will share the car Thursday with Kris Szekeres. The Michigan native joined the team at Mid-Ohio.

Brumos Racing ran well in the Rolex 24, and both cars will try to break a four-year win drought in the race their team sponsors. David Donohue and Darren Law nearly took second in the EMCO Gears Classic in the No. 58 Brumos Racing Brumos Porsche/Red Bull Porsche Riley before a late-race pit stop dropped the car to fifth. The duo also ran near the front in the Rolex 24 before contact midway through the event forced them out of contention for the win.

Hurley Haywood, who ranks near the top in all-time victories at Daytona, will try along with JC France to score their best finish of the season in the No. 59 Brumos Racing/Kendall Porsche Riley this week. The pair finished fourth in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

No. 23 Alex Job Racing Ruby Tuesday Porsche Crawford co-drivers Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Long return to Daytona after finishing 12th there in January, their worst 2007 finish in seven starts. Bergmeister won last year's Brumos Porsche 250 with Braun, and he and Long won the U.S. Sports Car Invitational delivered by Luggage Express at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May.

Brian and Burt Frisselle and Mark Wilkins return to the site of their season's best finish of fifth, which came in the Rolex 24. The trio also ran as high as fourth in the Sahlen's Six Hour in the No. 61 AIM Autosport Barrick Gold/Exchange Traded Gold Lexus Riley.

Michael Shank Racing will again bring its No. 6 and No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Lexus Rileys to Daytona after scoring finishes of ninth (Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri Jr.) and 10th (Ian James and John Pew) at Mid-Ohio. Cheever Racing has made an engine switch from Porsche to Pontiac, and Christian Fittipaldi and Harrison Brix will drive the No. 39 Cheever Racing Crown Royal Special Reserve Pontiac Fabcar this weekend. Fittipaldi is hoping to expound on a 14th in class in January's Rolex 24.

Other teams entered to mix it up are the No. 05 Luggage Express Team Sigalsport BMW Riley with Bill Auberlen and Matt Alhadeff, who won at Homestead-Miami Speedway; No. 3 Southard Motorsports Preformed Line Products/TrueChoice Motorsports Lexus Riley with Shane Lewis and Randy Ruhlman; No. 16 Howard Motorsports Thetford/Norcold Porsche Crawford with Chris and Rob Dyson; and the No. 19 Team Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Racing Z-Lines/Mission Residential Lexus Riley with Michael Valiante and Rob Finlay.

GT Class:

Like Gurney and Fogarty, Andy Lally and RJ Valentine in the No. 66 TRG CRG/Maxter Porsche GT3 have been stellar in recent races. Lally has weaved through the field after taking over for Valentine, and responded by leading the most laps in the last two races. The pair finished 17th in GT in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, but have been top-10 performers in the following seven races. They have jumped to fourth in only three races.

But as hot as Lally and Valentine have been in the Porsche, they still need seven points to take the championship lead in Grand-Am's tightest championship battle. A three-way tie atop the standings has German rookie Dirk Werner and teammates Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards with 223 points apiece, and all three know how important round nine of 13 can be in their championship hunts.

Werner's Rolex 24 At Daytona wasn't spectacular, as he drove the No. 85 Farnbacher Loles Motorsports Shoes for Crews/Recaro Porsche GT3 with Leh Keen, Pierre Ehret and Jorg Hardt to a 14th-place finish in GT. But in the next six races in the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Motorsports Marquis Jet/IPC Porsche GT3, Werner and co-driver Bryce Miller combined to finish no worse than fourth, with five straight podiums. Their 12th-place finish at Mid-Ohio dropped Werner into his three-way tie, and Miller from fourth to seventh in the standings.

Collins and Edwards have posted top-10 finishes in all eight races they have piloted the No. 07 Banner Racing/Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R, yet are still looking for their first GT victory. A second-place GT finish in the Rolex 24 and back-to-back third-place results should make them pre-race favorites and help push Pontiac toward its second victory of the season. The pair's teammates, Leighton Reese and Tim Lewis Jr. in the No. 06 Banner Racing/Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R, won the Memorial Day weekend Grand-Am GT Classic at Lime Rock Park and are tied for 10th in points.

Former series points leaders Nick Ham and Sylvain Tremblay in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazdaspeed RX-8 are coming off their best finish in three races after challenging for the victory at Mid-Ohio. Tremblay brought the car home second, the duo's fourth podium this season, and moved into sixth in points, 10 out of the lead. Ham, in contrast, is now eighth, 19 in arrears of the lead. Tremblay's and Ham's teammates Emil Assentato and Nick Longhi, who shared seventh in the Rolex 24, look to regroup after finishing 19th at Mid-Ohio in the No. 69 SpeedSource Mazdaspeed RX-8.

The strong efforts of No. 22 Alegra Motorsports/Fiorano Racing Gatorade/ Porsche GT3 drivers Jean-Francois Dumoulin and Carlos de Quesada in the EMCO Gears Classic should give them momentum heading into Daytona. The pair, currently tied for ninth in the standings, won the GT class in the Rolex 24, and ran second at Mid-Ohio in the second half of the EMCO Gears Classic before slipping to 11th.

Aside from the No. 66 Porsche GT3, TRG will field the No. 64 Jlowe Racing/SRS Porsche GT3 for Jim Lowe and Jim Pace and the No. 67 500 Fast Cash Porsche GT3 for Scott Tucker and Ed Zabinski. Farnbacher Loles Motorsports will have Dominik Farnbacher in its No. 85 Shoes for Crews/Recaro Porsche GT3, while a co-driver is expected to be named after Keen was involved in a practice accident at Mid-Ohio. He is sidelined with a broken collarbone.

Several other multiple-car teams are entered for this weekend. The three-car Team Sahlen stable will have its No. 41 Pontiac GTO (Joe Sahlen and Joe Nonnamaker) and No. 42 (Sahlen and Will Nonnamaker) and No. 43 (Joe Nonnamaker and Wayne Nonnamaker) Corvettes at Daytona, while Tafel Racing brings its No. 72 Tornos/Dunkel Bros. Porsche GT3 (Spencer Pumpelly and Nathan Swartzbaugh) and No. 74 Rembrandt Charms Porsche GT3 (Eric Lux and Wolf Henzler).

Blackforest Motorsports returns to its home state with the No. 15 USG Sheetrock/Guardian Insultation Ford Mustang GT and drivers Tom Nastasi and Terry Bocheller. Others cars expected include the No. 14 Autometrics Motorsports Mac Papers/Mac Business Products Porsche GT3 with Cory Friedman and Mac McGehee; No. 17 Doncaster Racing Minestar/Tim Hortons Porsche GT3 with drivers Greg Wilkins and Dave Lacey; No. 21 Matt Connolly Motorsports Pontiac GTO with drivers Matt Connolly and Hal Prewitt; No. 30 Racers Edge Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R with drivers Drew Staveley and Mark Pavan; No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Stevenson Automotive Corvette with Marc Bunting and Dominic Cicero II; and the No. 81 Synergy Racing EMC Mechanical/Gamewell Mechanical Porsche GT3 with Steve Johnson listed as the lead driver.

Brumos Porsche 250 Fast Facts

What: Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve

Who: Daytona Prototype and GT class cars, featuring several top American and international sports car driving stars

Where: Daytona International Speedway -- Daytona Beach, Florida

When: Thursday, July 5, 2007 -- 8 p.m.

TV: SPEED, Live, Saturday, July 5, 2007 -- 8 p.m.

Schedule of Events (All times local, Eastern Time):

Thursday, July 5
10:00 AM - 11:30 AM Practice -- Rolex Series (All)
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM Practice -- Rolex Series (All)
1:15 PM - 1:30 PM Qualifying -- Rolex Series GT
1:45 PM - 2:00 PM Qualifying -- Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes
8:00 PM START -- Brumos Porsche 250 for Rolex Sports Car Series (250 miles - 70 Laps - 2 ¾-hour time limit)

TIME CERTAIN SCHEDULE -- All sessions to start and finish as shown

-credit: garra

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya , Nic Jönsson
Teams Krohn Racing , Stevenson Motorsports , Racers Edge Motorsports , Team Sahlen , Alex Job Racing , SpeedSource , Michael Shank Racing