Duno & Wallace Look For Three-In-A-Row at Homestead-Miami Speedway DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 1, 2005) -- Looking to become just the second team to win three consecutive Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series events at one track, No. 2 CITGO ...
Duno & Wallace Look For Three-In-A-Row at Homestead-Miami Speedway
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 1, 2005) -- Looking to become just the second team to win three consecutive Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series events at one track, No. 2 CITGO Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford co-drivers Milka Duno and Andy Wallace lead a field of 22 Daytona Prototypes and 27 GT cars to Homestead-Miami Speedway for this Saturday's Grand Prix of Miami (SPEED Channel, Live, 3 p.m. ET).
Duno and Wallace earned victories at Homestead-Miami Speedway in last February's Grand Prix of Miami and scored a second-straight triumph in the Miami 250 in September. Should they score the "hat trick" this weekend in South Florida, they will join 2003 Daytona Prototype champion Terry Borcheller and Forest Barber--who won three consecutive events at Daytona International Speedway with victories in the 2003 Paul Revere 250 and the 2003 Daytona season finale as well as the 2004 Rolex 24 At Daytona (with co-drivers Christian Fittipaldi and Andy Pilgrim)--as the only drivers to have won three-straight Rolex Series races at one venue.
If Wallace and Duno are to get a "three-peat," however, they're not going to do it without a fight. Close competition has been a hallmark of the Rolex Series, and Homestead-Miami Speedway has been the site of some tremendous battles. Last February, three different cars led inside the final 10 laps and a memorable door-banging incident between Max Papis and Jan Magnussen opened the door for Wallace to take the victory. In September, Max Angelelli appeared on his way to victory in the closing laps before Wallace chased him down and made a dramatic pass around the outside coming to the start/finish line with four laps to go to secure his and Duno's second win.
The memories of last September are undoubtedly fresh in the minds of Daytona Prototype co-points leaders Angelelli and No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley co-driver Wayne Taylor, and the 2005 Rolex 24 At Daytona-winning duo looks to go two-for-two in Florida to open the year. Should Angelelli and Taylor be successful this weekend, they will be just the second team to win the first two events of the season in Rolex Series history, joining Didier Theys and Mauro Baldi, who opened the 2002 season with back-to-back victories.
While SunTrust Racing took Round 1 in 2005, one should expect defending Daytona Prototype champions Chip Ganassi Racing to come out with both guns blazing this weekend. No. 01 CompUSA Lexus Riley co-drivers Luis Diaz and 2004 Daytona Prototype co-champion Scott Pruett head to Miami looking to extend the car's streak of consecutive pole positions to nine straight dating to last season. Both drivers came agonizingly close to victories at Homestead-Miami Speedway last year and will be looking to avenge their defeats this weekend.
Not to be overlooked is the No. 02 New Century Mortgage Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley of Stefan Johansson and Cort Wagner. The new teammates were blindingly fast in their first outing last month at Daytona, and the 250-mile "sprint race" in Miami could break the dam for Johansson, Wagner and the No. 02 team.
Likewise, the No. 2 CITGO team may see their streak end this weekend at the hands of their teammates in the No. 4 The Boss Snowplow Pontiac Crawford, Butch Leitzinger and Elliott Forbes-Robinson. Leitzinger and EFR enter the weekend riding a streak of five straight top-four finishes dating to a third-place run in the Miami 250 last September, and have finished on the podium in four of their last five starts. Also included in the run are a victory at Barber Motorsports Park last fall and a second-place showing in the 2005 season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.
For several Daytona Prototype drivers, the Grand Prix of Miami represents their "hometown race." Italian Max Papis, the 2004 Daytona Prototype co-champion, now makes his home in Miami and will share the No. 66 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley with Jorg Bergmeister. Papis has enjoyed success at Homestead-Miami Speedway, as he started from the pole position for the Rolex Series Miami 250 last September and earned his first career Champ Car victory on the HMS oval. However, he is still looking for his first sports car triumph in South Florida.
Key Biscayne resident Christian Fittipaldi will also be looking for his first Miami victory this weekend in the No. 54 Kodak EasyShare Bell Motorsports Pontiac Doran he shares with 2003 Daytona Prototype champion Terry Borcheller. Moving a little further up the Atlantic coast, brothers Burt and Brian Frisselle--who will co-drive the No. 8 Rx.com/Synergy Racing BMW Doran--make their respective homes in Aventura, Fla., while No. 3 Southard Motorsports BMW Riley driver Shane Lewis hails from Jupiter, Fla. Lewis shares the No. 3 machine with Darius Grala.
Weston, Fla.-based Brazilian Roberto Moreno is set to debut the No. 07 Spirit of Daytona Pontiac Crawford with co-driver Bob Ward from Casselberry in Central Florida. Other Floridians in the field include Paul Mears Jr., who co-drives the No. 6 Mears Motor Coach Pontiac Riley with Mike Borkowski for Michael Shank Racing; as well as Ponte Vedra's Hurley Haywood and JC France from Ormond Beach, who co-drive the No. 59 Porsche Fabcar for the Jupiter-based Brumos Racing.
Other Daytona Prototypes to watch this weekend include the No. 5 Essex Racing Ford Crawford of Rolex Series returnees Joe and Justin Pruskowski, the No. 9 Hyper Sport Infiniti Doran of Rick Skelton and Joe Foster, the No. 09 Spirit of Daytona Racing Pontiac Crawford of Stephan Gregoire and Doug Goad, the No. 18 CB Motorsports/Chase Competition Pontiac Chase of Chris Bingham and Hugo Guenette, the No. 19 Ten Motorsports BMW Riley of Memo Gidley and Michael McDowell, the No. 25 Westernesse Racing Ford Crawford of Chad McQueen, Dominic Cicero and John Bender, the No. 39 Orbit Racing Pontiac Riley of Jim Matthews and Guy Smith, the No. 58 Red Bull Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcar co-driven by Darren Law and David Donohue, the No. 67 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley in the hands of Tracy Krohn and Nic Jonsson, and the No. 77 Crown Royal Special Reserve Lexus Doran co-driven by talented Rolex Series newcomers Matteo Bobbi and Fabrizio Gollin for Doran Racing.
In the GT field, Auto Gallery/TRG brings a two-car attack as it goes for its second straight Homestead victory in the GT class. Leading the charge will be Marc Bunting and Andy Lally in the No. 65 Auto Gallery/TRG Porsche GT3 Cup, while 16-year-olds Colin Braun and Brad Coleman acquitted themselves well in their maiden Rolex Series voyage last month at Daytona and will be looking for more this weekend in the No. 64 Auto Gallery/TRG Porsche.
The four-car Porsche team of TPC Racing also bears watching closely, as the team placed two cars on the Super Grand Sport (SGS) class podium in both Miami races last year including a class victory for No. 36 Porsche GT3 Cup co-drivers Randy Pobst and Michael Levitas last September. As the SGS class was essentially combined with GT to create a single GT class in 2005, and the TPC team was adept at making the Porsche GT3 Cup fast with regularity last year, this team clearly rates among the favorites. TPC's fleet includes the No. 35 Porsche of Emil Assentato and Nick Longhi, the No. 36 of Pobst and team owner Levitas, the No. 37 of John Littlechild and Spencer Pumpelly and the No. 38 of Manuel Matos and Mike Fitzgerald.
After a disappointing run in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, defending GT champions BMW Team PTG head to Miami with a four-car assault of their own. BMW Team PTG won the Grand Prix of Miami last year, touching off a dominating run to the class title. If that was any indication, it could be a good weekend for No. 21 BMW M3 co-drivers Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand, co-drivers Chris Gleason and Ian James in the No. 22 M3, No. 16 BMW M3 co-drivers Justin Marks and Tom Milner, and co-drivers Kelly Collins and RJ Valentine in the No. 17 BMW M3.
JMB Racing USA, based in nearby Miramar, Fla. also rates among the GT frontrunners based on the team's class podium result in the Miami 250 last year, and sharing the team's No. 11 Ferrari 360 Challenge will be Matt Plumb, Constantino Bertuzzi and Mike Zoi. The Miami-based trio of Steve Goldin, Keith Goldin and Scott Finlay could also figure in the outcome in their No. 08 Goldin Brothers Racing Mazda RX-8, as well as the four-car Porsche entry from Team Sahlen, three Porsches from Autometrics Motorsports, and the two-car Porsche attack for Synergy Racing.
The weekend schedule calls for Rolex Series GT practice to get underway at 2 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 3, followed by an all-class session from 2:45 to 3:45 p.m. A practice session for Daytona Prototypes only from 3:45 to 4:30 p.m. wraps up the day's activities. On Friday, the Rolex Series machines take to the track for practice from 9:00 to 9:45 a.m., followed by another practice session from 1:00 to 1:30 p.m. At 4:15 p.m., the GT machines will have a 15-minute qualifying session, with the Daytona Prototypes slated to begin their 15-minute qualifying session at 4:30 p.m.
Saturday's race day schedule will see the Rolex Series machines on-track for their final pre-race practice session from 8:15 to 8:45 a.m., with Round 2 of the 14-race 2005 Rolex Sports Car Series, the Grand Prix of Miami slated to take the green flag shortly after 3:00 p.m. ET. The race's scheduled distance will be 109 laps around the 2.3-mile road course (250 miles), but is subject to a two-hour and 45-minute time limit.
SPEED Channel will provide live television coverage of the Grand Prix of Miami beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET. Live Timing & Scoring information from every session will be provided on the official web site of the Grand American Road Racing Association, www.grandamerican.com, and the site will also feature live audio webcasts of the race in both English and Spanish.
Grand Prix of Miami Fast Facts
Sanctioning Body: Grand American Road Racing Association
Series: Rolex Sports Car Series
Dates: March 3 -- 5, 2005
Race: Grand Prix of Miami -- March 5, 3 p.m. ET
Television: Grand Prix of Miami LIVE on SPEED Channel -- 3 p.m. ET
Websites: Live Timing & Scoring is available for all Rolex Series practices, qualifying sessions and races on the official Grand American website -- www.grandamerican.com.
Track: 2.3-mile, 11-turns
Track Records: Qualifying (one lap):
Daytona Prototype, Scott Pruett, 1:13.375, 112.845 mph, 2/27/04
GT, Boris Said, 1:19.325, 104.381 mph, 2/27/04
Race Lap Records:
Daytona Prototype, Max Angelelli, 1:14.665, 110.895 mph, 2/28/04
GT, Justin Marks, 1:19.884, 103.650 mph , 2/28/04
Mauro Baldi/Didier Theys, 2:19:07.881, 107.639 mph, 239.2 miles, 3/2/02