Pontiac Has Banner Day At Lime Rock Collins and Edwards Win in GXP.R Lime Rock, Conn., May 26, 2008 -- Banner Pontiac drivers Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards won their third race of the season today in round six of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car...
Pontiac Has Banner Day At Lime Rock
Collins and Edwards Win in GXP.R
Lime Rock, Conn., May 26, 2008 -- Banner Pontiac drivers Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards won their third race of the season today in round six of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 race at Lime Rock Park. Stevenson Motorsports drivers Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis finished third in their GXP.R.
The Banner team had the No. 07 and the No. 06 Pontiac GXP.Rs on differing strategies from the drop of the green flag in what was a caution free race. Jan Magnussen in the 06 Banner Pontiac pitted on the first lap, getting the 45-minute required pit stop out of the way early. Kelly Collins in the No. 07 Banner GXP.R had fallen back to fifth at the start as his strategy was to go the full 45-minutes. Meanwhile in the No. 72 Autohaus Pontiac, Tim Lewis Jr. was leading the race from his pole starting position. Lewis led the first 21 laps before pitting. As the pit stops cycled through the 06 of Magnussen took over the lead on the strength of his differing strategy. Magnussen turned the car over to sportscar legend Ron Fellows on lap 76, briefly surrendering the lead to the 07. When the 07 pitted the 06 took the lead until just three laps remained when Fellows spun in turn two handing the lead and the victory to Edwards.
Edwards and Collins posted their third win of the season, the first two coming at Miami-Homestead Raceway and last weekend at Laguna Seca. The duo leads the GT drivers points by 19 going into the six-hour race at Watkins Glen in two weeks.
"I was trying to stay away from the lap cars and run clean laps," Edwards said. "Some of them make it tough to get by for some reason. The 06 car and us were on different strategies. I was about six-tenths faster than Ron at the end, we had fresher tires. I was looking forward to having a tug-of-war with him with three to go. We went into one and I was right behind him and he got into some dirt that was on the track and he did a long lazy spin, keeping it off my line thank God. Ron has a lot of experience and I think his rear tires were totally gone. It was a good win for us, we are leading the championship and have a third win on the season."
The Stevenson Motorsports No. 57 Pontiac with Liddell and Davis suffered early race performance issues. Davis started from the front row and steadily fell back. He reported the car being down on power. The team kept him out and then pitted him near the 45-minute mark. The team, with two wins on the season, diagnosed the problem as not having the spark plug wires fully engaged on one cylinder.
"We knew that the performance of the car was off for Andrew," Liddell said. "We chose to keep him out as long as possible with the hopes of getting a yellow. He came in and the guys fixed it. When I got in the car was great. I was able to post fast time of the race and get a couple of laps back. Sometimes you just have to hang in there to get the result. Third place was a good finish for us today. It almost feels like a win."
Ron Fellows eventually got the 06 Banner Pontiac restarted and finished the race in fourth. The duo of Magnussen and Fellows led 79 of the 164 laps and almost gave team owner Leighton Reese a Banner one-two finish.
"We didn't take tires on the second pit stop," Fellows said. "We were on a different strategy that was paying off. At the end the front was sliding around and so was the rear. The tires were gone. We put over 88-laps on that set of rubber. I got into one and then there was dirt in turn two and it just came around. I wanted to try and keep it on the track with the spin so Paul could get around me. Then I had trouble restarting the car. Tough way to end it as good as the car was running."
The No. 72 Autohaus Motorsports Pontiac of Lewis and Lawson Aschenbach finished the day in fourth. The team from Florida could not convert their pole position to a win. The car developed a rear end handling problem that plagued the duo all day.
"The first set of tires was really loose," Aschenbach said. "The second set was better, but not as good as the car had been all weekend. The car really changed handling wise from qualifying. It would go from loose to diabolical oversteer. When the tires went away at the end I was just concentrating on bringing it home in one piece. We may have a broken suspension part on the rear somewhere. I cannot explain it."
The next event for the Grand-Am Rolex series competitors will be the Watkins Glen six-hour race on June 7.
-credit: gm racing