Pontiac's GTO.R Nets Second-Consecutive Rolex Series Win Paul Edwards' Successful Pass in Final-laps Allows Edwards and Teammate Kelly Collins of the ...
Pontiac's GTO.R Nets Second-Consecutive Rolex Series Win
Paul Edwards' Successful Pass in Final-laps Allows Edwards and Teammate Kelly Collins of the #64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R to Finish First in Class at Homestead-Miami Speedway
HOMESTEAD, Fla. - In a race with roughly one-quarter of its laps run under caution, the production-based Pontiac GTO.R managed another GT class win with a second-to-last lap pass by Paul Edwards of the #64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R. The mishap-filled race marks yet another win for the #64 car, its second this year, and the victory is enough to propel Pontiac into the GT class manufacturers points lead and Edwards with teammate Kelly Collins into the lead in driver points. Pontiac also now has a lead in team points with the #64 TRG car on top.
"On the restart the Mazda (#70) blew by me," said Edwards of his race-winning pass. "It was mayhem - cars everywhere and he took a big risk and went inside of me. He got the lead. I thought then it was going to be tough because there was a Porsche (#72) between us and he was driving pretty defensively; then we came up on traffic and I thought 'I'm going to do the same thing'. It worked and the car held on to itself."
Edwards and Collins qualified fifth despite slight mechanical issues and managed to keep their car in the top-five throughout most of the race. Their teammates Marc Bunting, Andy Lally and R.J. Valentine also finished within the top-ten; the trio finished ninth after qualifying 14th. Second and third in GT was the #70 Mazda RX-8 of David Haskell and Sylvain Tremblay and the #72 Porsche GT3 Cup of Wolf Henzler and Robin Liddell, respectively.
Pontiac's Daytona Prototype (DP) effort again had difficulties with none of their cars finishing in the top-five. The best showing for the brand - which took DP team, driver and manufacturer championships last year - was the #99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley of Alex Gurney and Jimmy Vassar (filling in for Bob Stallings). The team finished sixth; their best this season.
"I had a great time racing with the GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing guys and I'm looking forward to possibly doing more of these races in the future," said Vassar, a regular on the Champ Car circuit. "I think we all expected to do a bit better, but I think it's clear the Pontiacs are down on power and we missed the setup a bit, so to come home sixth is a strong result. The GAINSCO car got pretty loose on me toward the end. I just had to drive through it."
Pontiac-powered Daytona Prototypes have been down on power since Grand American added weight to all Pontiac DPs at the start of the season. Since then, the brand has not been able to replicate the successful start they enjoyed the year before, where it won 10 out of 14 races with its DP cars with five of those wins including podium sweeps.
"It's unbelievable.on the straight, the Porsches just pulled away from us," said Max Angelelli, driver of the #10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley, winner of last year's team points and driver points with teammate Wayne Taylor. "It's almost like we're not even in the same class with the difference now in power. Since the rule change, we have no chance against them."
Porsches dominated most of the DP class race, with the #23 Porsche Crawford of Mike Rockenfeller and Patrick Long finishing first and the #39 Porsche Crawford of Christian Fittipaldi, Lucas Luhr and Eddie Cheever Jr. in second. Rounding out the podium was the #01 Lexus Riley of Luis Diaz and Scott Pruett. The second-highest finishing Pontiac and the only other Pontiac in the top ten was the #16 Pontiac Crawford of Guy Smith and Chris Dyson.
Next up in the Rolex Series, Champ Car, Formula D Drift Series and the SPEED World Challenge series join the popular sports car series in a weekend of intense street-circuit racing. Pontiac Motorsports will run its first street course in the DP-only Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 8 at 4 p.m. PT; race is tape delayed on SPEED TV at 9:00 p.m. ET.