Iowa: Chip Ganassi Racing race report

RECORD 1-2 FINISH AT INAUGURAL GRAND-AM IOWA RACE FOR CGRFS NEWTON, Iowa (July 13, 2007)- Friday the 13th at Iowa Speedway's 1.3 mile road course proved to be anything but unlucky as the no.01 TELMEX Lexus-Riley and no.19 Z-Line Designs/Mission...


NEWTON, Iowa (July 13, 2007)- Friday the 13th at Iowa Speedway's 1.3 mile road course proved to be anything but unlucky as the no.01 TELMEX Lexus-Riley and no.19 Z-Line Designs/Mission Residential Lexus-Riley teammates, Scott Pruett/Memo Rojas and Rob Finlay/Michael Valiante, hoisted their 1st and 2nd place trophies in victory circle, which tallied even more Rolex records for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. The victory further increased the no.01's team points lead and Pruett's advantage as the driver championship forerunner. Three-month long CGRFS teammates, Pruett and Valiante, battled until the last turn, when Valiante's attempted inside pass fell short as Pruett grazed the finish line first by a half-car length.

The first feat of the afternoon was the qualifying results; Rojas maneuvered the car into 2nd and Finlay impressed his team with 5th place start on the grid. Consistency was the name of the game in the 192-lap event with only two cautions and little wreckage between competitors. Both teams were able to capitalize on a driver change pit stop on lap 38, because the two leaders did not opt for switching drivers. All four CGRFS pilots consistently ran in the top 5 for the first quarter of the race. A break for Pruett surfaced on Lap 84, on the final yellow pit stop. He exited the pits P1, with Valiante following in P3. The CGRFS cars sandwiched the no.99 Fogarty/Gurney car, until Valiante overtook 2nd place in turn two with only 23 laps remaining. Lapped traffic brought the no.01 and no.19 bumper to bumper on the final lap. Pruett's luck prevailed as he held off Valiante; especially considering only drops of fuel remained at the end of the race.

Most notable among the records and achievements at Iowa was Pruett's recognition as the all-time Rolex sports car winner with 14-career wins. Additionally, CGRFS added another tally to their team wins reign with 15 successes in Rolex competition since 2004. Rojas also earned his first career Rolex victory; while Finlay and Valiante shared their first career podium and best qualifying result of the season.

With history made, Pruett remains the Rolex Series Championship point leader with 272 markers, an advantage of 15 over no.10 Max Angelelli. The TELMEX CGRFS team also significantly increased their team championship lead to 20 points over the no.10 team. After Iowa, Rojas amassed 247 points in the drivers standing; only three marks shy of 3rd place.

SCOTT PRUETT "(in reference to win over Valiante) We had a good car and he (Valiante) also had a good car. We had to conserve fuel, running full lean/full rich. It was good until the last lap in turn 7 and we were chugging for fuel. He was right there and was a minor miss. This is a great finish for TELMEX and for Memo, myself, and the Ganassi organization...When we unloaded (at Iowa) and both of our cars were fast, we tried to work forward, to make both cars quicker. (In reference to record 15 team career wins) Well, I think that we've been fortunate with Ganassi, Lexus, and Carlos Slim under the CompUSA and TELMEX banner. And it's been a cohesive mix with the no.02 on and off and now Rob and Michael, when we have two cars, we can do twice as much...We make good calls and have good race cars. We did better than I expected (at Iowa), I expected more carnage and people getting into each other and none of the cars had marks on them. I hope it was a good show for fans (13,464 in attendance)."

MEMO ROJAS: "I want to thank the team, they did an awesome job. I'm super excited, they say the first one (win) is toughest one. We need to keep the momentum running for the next (race) ... (in reference to qualification result) For me it was the fact that we got to test here, and especially being a rookie to this championship. And so every time I get time in the car and on a track I've never been to, it's one step forward for me. (Since it's) my first year, I'm getting the ball rolling and experience with them (team and series) and obviously we had great car this weekend. The team did an awesome job."

ROB FINLAY: "It was unbelievable. Today was the best qualifying we had in prototypes. Michael and the team put together a great car. That's the benefit of a two-car team. I can't say enough, proof is in the results. The race was going (for me) until I hit a back marker (early in the race) and lost a few spots, the car was fast and was able to keep it out of trouble."

MICHAEL VALIANTE: "Scott did good job and had no mistakes. To be honest, on the last corner last lap. He bobbled (off of turn 9) and I hesitated and if it was anyone else, I wouldn't have hesitated. It wouldn't have been the smartest thing if we got together. Scott, Memo, (and us) share info and get along well and it showed this weekend."

-credit: cgr

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Scott Pruett , Max Angelelli , Memo Rojas , Chip Ganassi , Rob Finlay
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing