With three laps remaining in Sunday's Rolex Sports Car Series Six Hours of the Glen and heavy rain and dense fog enveloping the tricky 3.45- mile, 11-turn Watkins Glen International road course, Nic Jonsson faced a difficult decision. He could ...
With three laps remaining in Sunday's Rolex Sports Car Series Six Hours of the Glen and heavy rain and dense fog enveloping the tricky 3.45- mile, 11-turn Watkins Glen International road course, Nic Jonsson faced a difficult decision. He could either be content to finish second behind his teammate Christian Fittipaldi or he could try to race Fittipaldi for the win. Not knowing whether team orders forbid such a move, Jonsson chose to race him for the win, diving underneath Fittipaldi when the opportunity presented itself and then hanging on to win the race in the Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley he shared with Tracy Krohn. It was the first overall Rolex Sports Car Series win for Jonsson and Krohn. Their previous best finish this season was a fourth at Miami.
"I had no radio communication for the last stint so I had no idea if there were any team orders, but I wouldn't think so," admitted a rain- soaked Jonsson. "So I told myself that I would give it two laps to see if I could get by him because if you run too close, you can't see anything. So I had to kind of run completely aside of him. And when I pushed really hard for a lap, I got right up on his tail. So I figured I'd give it a shot and we actually touched. So I backed off and then dove on the inside of him in Turn 9 because I saw him lift there the lap before because of the standing water in that corner. I broke right before he did. Once I got by him, it was no big deal to open up the gap.
"We've been very fast all year, beginning at Daytona. But we've had some bad luck. We've had some really good runs and been in the lead in three races, but haven't won. But this time we had a really strong car in the wet conditions and we were patient. Once I got up front, I could finally see something and it was kind of easy to pull away."
"We've been knocking on this door for the last three races," added Krohn. "We've been in the top-five and actually led a couple of races. We've had some bad luck, been hit, and that sort of thing. But it was time to have a good luck day. We had some adversity - we lost communications in the car. So a lot of decision making had to be made out on course without much direction. But Nic did a great job. He's a great friend and a great driver. He's been a real inspiration to me. I've learned a lot from Nic. I haven't been doing this very long. So it was very gratifying. This wasn't a three-driver team, it was two-driver team and we both spent a lot of time in the car. So I am very pleased with it."
Early in the race, it seemed unlikely that Jonsson and Krohn, who qualified 17th, would contend for the win. Max Angelelli started from the pole and led until the second caution flew, on lap 24. Under the yellow, all of the leaders pitted for tires and fuel, including the No. 01 Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley, the No. 4 Pontiac Crawford, the No. 66 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley, and the No. 39 Orbit Racing Pontiac Riley. But Angelelli's SunTrust team also chose to make a driver change, putting Wayne Taylor in the car. The extra time it took them to swap drivers allowed Scott Pruett's No. 01 Ganassi car, which had been running second, to narrowly beat Taylor's Pontiac Riley out of the pits. Taylor eventually dropped to fifth while Pruett held the lead until lap 71, when both Guy Smith in the Orbit Racing Pontiac Riley and Angelelli, back at the controls of the SunTrust Pontiac Riley, slid past the No. 01 car.
As No. 01 car fell back, Smith, Angelelli, Butch Leitzinger in the No. 4 Pontiac Crawford, and Jorg Bergmeister, driving the No. 66 Pontiac Riley, swapped the lead back and forth over the course of the next 40 laps. Then on lap 112, a driving rain descended on the track, turning it into a slippery mess that caused a number of cars, including the No. 01 Ganassi car, to slide off the track. The No. 01 car appeared as if it would emerge from the spin unharmed and rejoin the dice for the lead, but then it was hit from behind by the spinning No. 58 Brumos Porsche Fabcar. The collision caused body damage to the right rear of the Ganassi car and the rain necessitated the race's seventh caution.
As the Ganassi team worked furiously to fix the body damage on the No. 01 car under the yellow, the rest of the leaders, including the Finely Motorsports BMW Riley, the second Ganassi entry, the SunTrust Pontiac Riley, and the No. 66 Pontiac Riley, stopped to swap their racing slicks for grooved, wet weather tires. On the restart, the BMW Riley and the SunTrust car took turns pacing the field until the BMW Riley spun and the SunTrust entry pitted for slicks, handing the lead to the second Ganassi car, driven by Cort Wagner and Stefan Johansson. But that lead was short- lived, as the Ganassi car had to pit for fuel a few laps later. This allowed the No. 66 car, which had been lurking in the top-five for most the day, to take the lead just before dense fog brought out the race's eighth and final caution. At that point, Jonsson was running second, due in part to wholesale pits stops and some miscues by many of the front runners.
With his teammate behind him and rain beginning to fall harder, it looked like Fittipaldi would hold on to take the win. But Jonsson had other ideas, squeaking past and relegating Fittipaldi and Bergmeister to second, followed by Pruett and Diaz. "I knew Nic was coming and he passed me into [Turn] 8, being teammates I didn't want to get too defensive," Fittipaldi said.
The No. 19 Finlay Motorsports BMW Riley of Michael McDowell and Memo Gidley and the second Ganassi car of Wagner and Johansson rounded out the top-five. Points' leaders Angelelli and Taylor came home sixth.
In GT, the No. 14 Autometrics Motorsports Porsche of Wolf Henzler, Cory Friedman, and Leh Keen beat the class pole sitting No. 65 TRG Porsche, driven by Andy Lally and Marc Bunting, to the checkered flag by 26.063 seconds. "In the beginning in the dry our car was not so good," Henzler explained after his second win of the season. "I could only follow the BMWs and the other Porsches. But I did my best. I drove the first stint - two hours and 10 minutes. Then when the rain started I got back in the car for another hour. The car was very good in the rain, but it was also very crazy in the rain. I couldn't see anything, there was just white. I'm happy that there were no accidents. I am very happy and my team did a great job." Justin Marks, Tom Milner, and R.J. Valentine, in the No. 16 PTG BMW M3, finished third in class.