Doran-Lista Racing's Theys and Magnussen Finish Fifth in Lexus Grand American 400 Season Finale FONTANA, Calif., Oct. 31 - Doran-Lista Racing recorded a solid top-five finish in the season finale for the Grand American Rolex series Sunday ...
Doran-Lista Racing's Theys and Magnussen Finish Fifth in Lexus Grand American 400 Season Finale
FONTANA, Calif., Oct. 31 - Doran-Lista Racing recorded a solid top-five finish in the season finale for the Grand American Rolex series Sunday at California Speedway, as Didier Theys and Jan Magnussen finished fifth in the Doran-Lista DORAN JE4 Lexus No. 27 in the Lexus Grand American 400.
It was a big day for the team's engine manufacturer. Not only did Lexus sponsor the race, but the five Lexus-powered cars in the 89-lap event finished first, third, fifth, sixth and seventh.
After qualifying tenth, the Doran-Lista team ran most of the race in sixth place. Theys, of Scottsdale, Ariz., vaulted from tenth to sixth right at the start after a scuffle developed ahead of him, and he stayed in that position until he dropped back to ninth on lap nine. The team had changed the car's set-up to make the rear stiffer, and both Theys and later Magnussen had trouble going over the bump where the track made its transition from the oval to the infield's road course.
Theys persevered and was eighth by lap 12, seventh by lap 23 and sixth again by lap 28. Theys was still in sixth when he pitted on lap 38 for four tires, fuel and for Magnussen to take over.
"We gambled and went way stiffer [with the set-up], and when I was in the car it was bouncing over the bump at the transition," Theys said. "I couldn't accelerate off the corner right because of it. I didn't have any problems other than that."
After the pit stop the team dropped to ninth, but by lap 45 Magnussen was sixth again, one lap down. He set his sights on fifth, which was held by the Michael Shank Racing DORAN JE4 Lexus, and by lap 55 he was right on that car's rear wing. He passed that car's driver, Burt Frisselle, cleanly in turn one on lap 56 for fifth place.
Four laps later there was a little scare when the team thought Magnussen, of Roskilde, Denmark, was radioing in that he had to pit, but that turned out to be just radio interference from another team.
With 29 laps remaining in the race the team had 12 laps of fuel left and was still in fifth place. Magnussen had to pit a little early, on lap 66, when he suffered a flat right-front Goodyear tire, but the team took that in stride and sent him back on his way with a full load of fuel. He returned to the track in seventh but with his fresh scuffed Goodyears he was quickly back up to sixth. He was 19 seconds behind the CITGO Crawford Pontiac, which was in fifth place, but team owner Kevin Doran had been keeping track and he knew that car would have to pit for fuel too.
It pitted on lap 80, nine laps from the end of the race, which put Magnussen back into fifth. Then he had to switch and play defense against a fast-closing SunTrust Riley Pontiac, but there wasn't much he could do against the rules package that car's engine enjoys. The SunTrust car passed Magnussen in turn one with three laps to go to push it back to sixth. Luckily for the Lebanon, Ohio-based team the fourth-place CompUSA Riley Lexus No. 02 then spun, so Magnussen was back in fifth place when the CompUSA Riley Lexus No. 01 of Max Papis and Scott Pruett won the race.
Magnussen said he had the same problem with the car that Theys had, but he was able to deal with it.
"I found that if I lifted early and went back hard, it was better over the bump coming onto the banking," he said. "I battled with the No. 6 car and passed him clean. I got a flat, but that was my only real problem. At the end the No. 10 car passed me like I was standing still though."
The race was broadcast live on SPEED.
The series will honor its champions at an awards ceremony at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas tomorrow night.
Unofficially Theys finished eighth in the Daytona Prototypes driver point standings, although there was a two-way tie for both first and seventh. Again unofficially, the Doran-Lista team finished fifth in the Daytona Prototype team championship for 2004, missing fourth by just one point. Doran Designs finished third unofficially in the Daytona Prototype car constructors' standings. Pontiac won the engine manufacturers' title by 10 points over Lexus, again unofficially.
For more information see www.lista.com, www.listaintl.com, www.doranracing.com, www.grandamerican.com, www.californiaspeedway.com and www.restartcommunications.com.