Fogarty, Gurney Gunning For Consecutive Win Record in Grand-Am Rolex Series Maiden Race at Iowa DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Since the establishment of the class in 2003, no team has captured four consecutive Daytona Prototype races in Grand-Am Rolex ...
Fogarty, Gurney Gunning For Consecutive Win Record in Grand-Am Rolex Series Maiden Race at Iowa
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Since the establishment of the class in 2003, no team has captured four consecutive Daytona Prototype races in Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve competition, but co-drivers Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney of the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley are eyeing history this weekend in the Rolex Series maiden race at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.
Fogarty and Gurney's race for the record books will be the second consecutive Daytona Prototype race under the lights, with the green flag waving at 8 p.m. local time this Friday (SPEED, at 10 p.m. ET). The Rolex Series GT class will compete the next day at 1 p.m. local time (SPEED, at 2:30 p.m. ET). The 1.3-mile, 9-turn central Iowa track is the one of two tracks hosting its Rolex Series debut in the next three races, along with Montreal's famed Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve.
Joining Terry Borcheller and Forest Barber in 2003 as the only three-peat winners after the Sahlen's Six Hours at The Glen, EMCO Gears Classic, and the Brumos Porsche 250, Fogarty and Gurney will attack Iowa with a similar approach. The duo has started on the front row in all eight races this season, but their four victories -- including the early season win at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City -- have come on tracks in excess of two miles. Three of the No. 99 GAINSCO team's victories have come on natural road courses, with Daytona being touted a stadium course. The pair is tied for third in points, only 17 behind leader Scott Pruett.
Despite Fogarty and Gurney's recent success, the top of the Rolex Series championship remains a battle of two former titlists. Following last Thursday's Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona, the points deficit stands at four (237-233) between current series championship leader and 2004 co-champ Pruett and 2005 winner Max Angelelli. Both drivers are coming off top-10 performances at Daytona.
Pruett enters Iowa seeking his first triumph since the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, where he and his No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley edged out a win of less than one lap at the 24-hour classic. Pruett has finished among the top eight in all eight Daytona Prototype races in 2007 -- the only driver to do so -- and was sixth in the Brumos Porsche 250 with co-driver Memo Rojas. Rojas, whose best finish of second came in three consecutive races, is fifth in points, 25 behind Pruett.
With the exception of a season-worst 15th-place finish at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with co-driver Jan Magnussen and a fourth-place finish at Mid-Ohio, Angelelli has stood on the podium in every race, including a win at Virginia International Raceway. Since being paired with co-driver Jonathan Cochet at the Sahlen's Six Hours, the duo is the only team outside of Fogarty and Gurney to finish in the top-five in each of the past three races.
No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley co-drivers Colin Braun and Max Papis remain within striking distance of a driver's championship despite not yet recording a victory in 2007, as they scored their fourth podium finish of the season at the Brumos Porsche 250. The duo has led at least one lap in each of the last three races, and hopes to lead the all-important final lap at Iowa Speedway.
Saturday's race also marks the Daytona Prototype debut for NASCAR Nextel Cup Series veteran Mark Martin, who will share the No. 3 Southard Motorsports Preformed Line Products/TrueChoice Motorsports Lexus Riley with Shane Lewis and Randy Ruhlman. Martin is known as one of the NASCAR Nextel Cup's top road racers, recording five career victories and 27 career top-five finishes in 60 road course starts. Martin finished second in February's Daytona 500.
Martin's appearance marks the second straight race a NASCAR Nextel Cup Series regular will compete in a Daytona Prototype, as defending NASCAR Nextel Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson helped the No. 91 Riley-Matthews Motorsports Pontiac Riley to ninth at the Brumos Porsche 250 with co-driver Marc Goossens. Jim Matthews returns to his regular role as Goossens' co-driver in the No. 91, as the team looks for its second top-10 in as many starts.
Others looking to regain their winning ways at Iowa Speedway are the Grand Prix of Miami-winning No. 05 Luggage Express Team Sigalsport BMW/Riley and drivers Bill Auberlen and Matthew Alhadeff; the Rolex 24 At Daytona runner-up No. 11 SAMAX/CITGO Pontiac Riley and current drivers Patrick Carpentier and Kris Szekeres, who led eight laps of the Brumos Porsche 250; and the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca-winning No. 23 Alex Job Racing Ruby Tuesday Porsche Crawford with defending series champion Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Long.
Two teams still looking for their breakthrough 2007 victories will once again take a pair of cars each to Iowa. Michael Shank Racing's No. 6 Playboy/Michael Shank Racing Lexus Riley driven by John Pew and Ian James and the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Lexus Riley of Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri are coming off of fourth- and seventh-place finishes respectively in Daytona. Over in the Brumos Porsche garage, the No. 58 Red Bull Brumos Porsche Riley of Darren Law and David Donohue led a race-high 26 laps at the Brumos Porsche 250 before finishing fifth. The No. 59 Brumos Porsche Riley of Hurley Haywood and JC France are searching for their third top-five finish of 2007.
Other teams scheduled to compete at Iowa include the No. 19 Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Racing Z-Line/Make-A-Wish Lexus Riley and drivers Rob Finlay and Michael Valiante; the No. 39 Cheever Racing Crown Royal Special Reserve Pontiac Fabcar of Christian Fittipaldi and Harrison Brix; the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley driven by Tracy Krohn and Nic Jonsson; and the No. 61 AIM Autosport Exchange Traded Gold Lexus Riley driven by Brian and Burt Frisselle and Mark Wilkins.
In GT, five different teams have won races in 2007 -- including two separate teams with three wins each -- yet they all trail the No. 07 Banner Racing/Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R of Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards, who are still searching for their first victory of the season. With just four races left in the 13-round season, only 17 points separate the top eight drivers.
Last week's runner-up finish at Daytona gave Collins and Edwards to sole possession of the championship lead. The duo narrowly missed its first win of the season, leading much of the race before being passed eight laps from the end by Sylvain Tremblay in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazdaspeed Mazda RX-8. Consistency has become the calling card of Collins and Edwards, having finished all nine rounds in the top-10 and owning a two-point cushion heading to Iowa.
Their closest competitor in the standings, Dirk Werner, will look to regain at least a share of the series lead that slipped away after a third-place finish in Daytona. Werner, who co-drives the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Motorsports Marquis Jet/IPC/Recaro Porsche GT3 with Bryce Miller, has earned six podium finishes in 2007. Miller is 14 points behind the championship lead, currently holding down fifth place.
Returning to the form that saw four straight top-five finishes, including two wins, to open the season is the No. 70 team of Tremblay and Nick Ham. The pair combined to win its third GT race at the Brumos Porsche 250, tying them with Andy Lally and RJ Valentine for the most of the 2007 season. The Daytona win gave Tremblay and Ham their second straight podium after two consecutive finishes outside the top 10. Tremblay, fourth in points, and Ham, sixth in the standings, also won at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City and at the Grand Prix of Miami.
Lally and Valentine's ninth-place finish at Daytona dropped them from fourth to seventh in the latest championship standings. The No. 66 TRG CRG/Maxter Porsche GT3 co-drivers remain just 17 points behind the championship leaders, spurred by victories at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen International and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Just outside the lead pack of championship contenders are the No. 22 Alegra Motorsports Gatorade/TodayMD.com Porsche GT3 driven by Carlos de Quesada and Jean-Francois Dumoulin, who remain 39 points back of the leaders. Dumoulin and de Quesada captured the GT class win in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. One point behind is the sister car of the championship leaders, the No. 06 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R of Leighton Reese and Tim Lewis, Jr., who have followed a win at Lime Rock Park with three additional top-10 finishes.
The No. 74 Tafel Racing Rembrandt Charms Porsche GT3 driven by Eric Lux and Wolf Henzler hope to continue the momentum that has carried them from sixth at Watkins Glen to fifth at Mid-Ohio and finally to a fourth-place finish at Daytona last week. The second Tafel Racing entry the No. 72 Tornos/ANCA/Dunkel Bros./North South Machinery Porsche GT3, driven by Nathan Swartzbaugh and James Gue, followed the sister car home at Daytona in fifth place and are looking to improve on that finish this week.
Aside from the No. 66 Porsche GT3, TRG will field the No. 65 500 Fast Cash Porsche GT3 for Scott Tucker and Ed Zabinski and the No. 67 AVIVA Porsche GT3 for Bryan Sellers and Spencer Pumpelly. Farnbacher Loles Motorsports will also have Dominik Farnbacher and Ian Baas in its No. 85 Shoes for Crews/Recaro Porsche GT3, one week after the car qualified third in Daytona, finishing only six laps before making contact with the wall. The No. 69 SpeedSource FXDD Mazda RX-8 of Emil Assentato and Nick Longhi also hopes to join its sister No. 70 car at the front of the pack on the tight Iowa road course.
Others competing in the GT class at Iowa Speedway are the No. 42 Team Sahlen HRPworld.com Corvette of Joe Sahlen and Will Nonnamaker and the No. 43 Team Sahlen HRPworld.com Corvette of Joe Nonnamaker and Wayne Nonnamaker; the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Corvette of Dominic Cicero and defending GT co-champion Marc Bunting; the No. 21 Matt Connolly Motorsports Pontiac GTO.R of Matt Connolly and Hal Prewitt; the No. 28 At Speed Motorsports Celette/Duraform Porsche GT3 with Mark White listed as the lead driver; the No. 30 Racers Edge Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R with Drew Stavely as the lead driver; and the No. 35 Playboy Racing/Unitech Playboy/Vonage/Palms Nissan 350Z of Tommy Constantine, Mike Borkowski and David Murry.
MILESTONES: This week's race at Iowa Speedway is the Rolex Series debut at the new speedway. The 1.3-mile, 9-turn central Iowa track is the one of two tracks hosting its first Rolex Series race in the next three races, along with Montreal's famed Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve--Scott Pruett is one victory away from holding sole possession of overall Rolex Series driver victories. Pruett is currently tied with James Weaver with 13 wins-- Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates is also one victory away from tying the all-time Rolex Series team victory mark, which stands at 15 by the Dyson Racing Team-- Daytona Prototypes and GT cars will run separate races on the Iowa Speedway road course, the fourth time this season.
NOTEWORTHY: There has been only one caution period in the previous two Daytona Prototype races. The race at Mid-Ohio went green-to-checkered while the Brumos Porsche 250 saw a caution only once, which came in the first eight laps-- During their three-race win streak, Fogarty and Gurney have combined to lead 228 of the possible 348 laps (65.5 percent). Their car has led in seven of the eight Daytona Prototype races heading into Iowa.
Iowa Speedway Fast Facts
What: Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve
Who: Daytona Prototype and GT class cars, featuring several top American and international sports car driving stars
Where: Iowa Speedway -- Newton, Iowa
When: Friday, July 13, 2007 -- 8 p.m. CT
Saturday, July 14, 2007 -- 1 p.m. CT
TV: SPEED, Friday, July 13, 2007 -- 10 p.m. ET
SPEED, Saturday, July 14, 2007 -- 2:30 p.m. ET
Schedule of Events (All times local, Central Time):
Thursday, July 12
9:00 AM - 9:45 AM Rolex Series GT Testing
10:00 AM - 10:45 AM Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Testing
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM Rolex Series GT Testing
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Testing
2:15 PM - 3:00 PM Rolex Series GT Testing
3:15 PM - 4:00 PM Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Testing
4:20 PM - 5:30 PM SunTrust MOTO-ST Testing
Friday, July 13
9:00 AM - 9:30 AM Practice -- Rolex Series Daytona Prototype
9:40 AM - 10:10 AM Practice -- Rolex Series GT
10:20 AM - 11:20 AM Practice -- Rolex Series Daytona Prototype
11:20 AM - 12:20 PM Practice -- Rolex Series GT
1:30 PM - 2:15 PM Practice -- Rolex Series Daytona Prototype
2:25 PM - 3:10 PM Practice -- Rolex Series GT
3:30 PM - 4:30 PM Practice -- SunTrust MOTO-ST Series
5:00 PM - 5:15 PM Qualifying -- Rolex Series Daytona Prototype
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM Autograph Session -- Rolex Series
8:00 PM START -- Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Race (400 kilometers - 192 Laps - 2 ½-hour time limit)
Saturday, July 14
9:00 AM - 9:30 AM Practice -- Rolex Series GT
9:50 AM - 10:35 AM Practice -- SunTrust
10:55 AM - 11:10 AM Qualifying -- Rolex Series GT
1:00 PM START -- Rolex Sports Car Series GT Race (400 kilometers - 192 Laps - 2 ½-hour time limit)
6:30 PM START -- SunTrust MOTO-ST Race (500 kilometers - 239 Laps - 3-hour time limit)
TIME CERTAIN SCHEDULE -- All sessions to start and finish as shown