MIAMI, Fla. (March 3, 2001) - One month ago today James Weaver started his engine to kick off the season at the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Twenty-two hours later Butch Leitzinger walked away from the ...
MIAMI, Fla. (March 3, 2001) - One month ago today James Weaver started his engine to kick off the season at the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Twenty-two hours later Butch Leitzinger walked away from the #16 Dyson Racing Team Ford Riley & Scott with a look of disgust, disappointment and disillusionment telling the story of the race. For the second year in a row their car had faltered with the victory almost in their sights. Weaver and Leitzinger began to make up for the disappointment today with their first win of the season at the Nextel 250 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The #16 car dominated the race from pole position to victory lane, leading the race every lap except for three surrounding pit stops. However, the #37 Intersport Racing Judd Lola never gave up, moving within a second of the #16 car during the race. Although the #16 Ford proved it had the faster engine, cautions and lap traffic keep the #37 within striking distance until the checkered flag when it finished 5.8 seconds back.
Last year's champions returned to the podium this year, but this time in third-place. Didier Theys and Mauro Baldi piloted the #27 Lista Doran Racing Judd Crawford to third, finishing 30 seconds behind the winner.
The American GT class saw an amazing comeback from the Flis Motorsports Team X1-R, whose drivers Doug Goad and Craig Conway entered the race with a combined total of six laps logged in their new #09 Corvette. The team was faced with starting from scratch after last month's Rolex 24 At Daytona, when their #09 Camaro limped across the finish line to second place in the AGT class, missing most its body work and suffering severe mechanical problems.
The Daytona Beach-based team retired the Camaro to move up to a Corvette for the remainder of the season. However, that meant building a car from the ground up in three weeks. "This car was literally only a frame three weeks ago," Goad said. "It's really amazing that we made it this far."
Conway took the new car on the track for the first time during qualifying for the Nextel 250 and clocked the fastest time in his class to win the X1-R Pole Award. Goad had only recorded a half of a lap in the car when he entered it today midway through the race. To the surprise of everyone, the car stayed in tact; the drivers adjusted to the modifications immediately; and the Goad and Conway entered Victory Lane as the AGT champions.
The GT class was also won by familiar faces behind the wheel of a new car. The #54 JET Motorsports BMW made its debut last month, but never saw the end of the 24-hour race, falling out in the middle of the night. Today it saw its way to the winners' circle and a new track record for the GT class. Terry Borcheller piloted the car to a 1:21.895 lap to break fastest-race lap record in the GT class for Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The most highly contested of the class wins today was in the SRPII class, where a pair of Archangel Motorsport Services Nissan Lolas battled against Porsche Haus Racing's Nissan Lola for the top spot in the class. All three cars held the class lead during the race, but in the end it was the #22 Archangel Nissan at the hands of Nigel Greensail and Mike Durand that took the class win.
Fordahl Motorsports watched their Saleen S7R make its way to the front of the GTS class early in the race and never relinquish the lead. Chris Bingham and Ron Johnson drove the car to a ninth-place overall finish.
Today's race was the second of the 10-race season of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series. The next stop in the series will be at Phoenix International Raceway on April 18-21 for the Sun Automotive 200. More information on the Rolex Sports Car Series and Nextel 250 is available online at www.grand-am.com.