Fourth-place Finish For ...
Fourth-place Finish For #4 Pontiac At Long Beach
Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford of Wallace and Leitzinger Narrowly Misses Podium Finish in First Street Race of Rolex Series
LONG BEACH, Calif. - Predictions came true after the first street-circuit race for the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series concluded: the talk of the paddock was that the race would be filled with crashes. And it was - after a very hard hit with the #8 Porsche Doran, Rocky Moran, Jr. of the #99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley Daytona Prototype (DP) was transported St. Mary's Hospital in Long Beach with what was thought to be a broken leg (since found to be only badly bruised). A total of three cautions in the 52-lap race allowed for the cleanup of the worst wrecks but car-to-car contact occurred with greater frequency. After all was said and done, the winner was the #01 Lexus Riley of Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz and the #4 Howard Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford of Butch Leitzinger and Andy Wallace gave Pontiac its best result of the day; fourth place.
"The team gave us a really good car despite the little practice time we had but we still don't have the straight-on speed we need," said Andy Wallace. "The rules still allow other manufacturers more of that speed. We could gain some of that back by taking off the wing but if you did that we'd have no grip - not a good idea. We're kind of stuck where we are right now; not bad but not great."
Pontiac is still trying to regain the level of success it had last year with its Daytona Prototypes; the brand managed to score team, drivers and manufacturers championships (second-consecutive manufacturers championship) in 2005 but has yet to put a Pontiac-powered DP on the podium this year. Two fourth-place finishes, both by the #4 car, have put the brand in fourth in the manufacturers standings but a win is still desired. Last year's champions, the team of the #10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley, looked to have potential for a strong finish but mid-race contact with the #89 Pacific Coast Motorsports Pontiac Riley hindered their progress and the team - with Max Angelelli and Jan Magnussen (filling in for Wayne Taylor) sharing the car - finished eighth.
"I don't know - I think I gave him (Ryan Dalziel) enough room but we had contact in the turn," said Angelelli. "He then went straight after the turn and I hit him from behind. We were in very good shape before that since we qualified third; it was still a long race but not enough for us to catch up. The track made it hard to pass."
The massive crash which injured Rocky Moran, Jr. (he was conscious and communicative at the hospital) also eliminated the #39 Porsche Crawford and the #8 Porsche Doran from the race. The incident occurred on lap 10 when the #8 Porsche was attempting to pit with mechanical problems when it crossed the path of the #39 Porsche and was hit by that car. The subsequent spin of the #8 Porsche collected the #99 Pontiac (at 147 mph) and sent the #99 car into the retaining wall. Moran, Jr. was injured in the left leg by one of his race car's air jacks and the other involved drivers (Burt Frisselle and Eddie Cheever, Jr.) were not seriously hurt.
Despite not breaking into the top-three spots, Pontiac still managed to get three of its cars into the top-10; a significant achievement in the DP-only field of 26 cars. Pontiac's GT class racers - the TRG GTO.Rs, which lead their class in manufacturer points - race again when the GT class regions the series in the next round at Virginia International Raceway. The #64 TRG GTO.R of Paul Edwards and Kelly Collins also up front in team points and the pair lead in driver points.
The next race at V.I.R. takes place on April 23 at 1:00 p.m. EDT and will air live on SPEED TV.