Pontiac Grand-Am Teams Move Momentum To Mid-Ohio GXP.R Racers Looking To Stay At The Front Pontiac Daytona Prototype (DP) and GT teams are headed to the Midwest for the EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and round seven of the ...
Pontiac Grand-Am Teams Move Momentum To Mid-Ohio
GXP.R Racers Looking To Stay At The Front
Pontiac Daytona Prototype (DP) and GT teams are headed to the Midwest for the EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and round seven of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve to be run on Saturday and Sunday June 23 - 24.
Pontiac DP cars have won the last two races at Mid-Ohio. The natural road course is a favorite of many racers and will offer excellent competition over its 2.2-mile, 13-turn layout.
The Pontiac DP brigade have amassed an unprecedented pole qualifying streak of six straight front of line starts on the 2007 season. Alex Gurney added to his tally of pole positions with his second at Watkins Glen two-weeks ago, leading all Pontiac entrants.
Gurney and teammate Jon Fogarty have been a formidable pair up to the seasons half-way mark. The GAINSCO Pontiac they drive is consistently at the top of the time sheets, at Watkins Glen they led every practice session, started from pole and won the race.
"Last year we were in a position to win Mid-Ohio, but a fuel stretch and yellow cost us," Fogarty said. "The new surface last year threw us a curve ball, but we know what to do now. We have shown a lot of speed this season and have been successful winning two races. In our case it is a lot of little things that have finally jelled. Mechanically speaking and personnel wise the GAINSCO team has really come together. We have done a little testing, so that helps. We are also in the heart of the season, more seat time, more time to develop and run laps is all paying dividends."
The No. 11 CITGO SAMAX Pontiac has been a consistent front runner this season, despite having five different drivers in six races. The one constant has been Canadian Patrick Carpentier, who has captained the driver crew in the No. 11 all season. Carpentier has also done a lap of Mid-Ohio without his cloths on.
"I am looking forward to going back to Mid-Ohio," Carpentier said. "I have always done well there. I won a race there in Champ Car so it has been good to me. After my Champ Car win I had to run a lap naked with the checkered flag. The pictures the next day were not so flattering. Who knows, if we win this weekend maybe I need to do another naked lap."
Max Papis and Colin Braun in the No. 75 Krohn Pontiac Riley have shown speed all year, but have yet to post a win. The pair are fifth in the points standings and looking for a top performance at Mid-Ohio this weekend.
"We are trying to improve the overall handling and setup of the car," Papis said. "We fell a little behind in that department and we are working hard to catch up with the top cars. We had a productive test at Mid-Ohio and hope that we can take advantage of that. We need to bridge the gap to the 99, 10, and 01 cars. At Mid-Ohio you need a car that's strong under braking. You need to be able to carry good speed into the center of the corner, but at the same time, the car can't have any push. You need a very precise front end and be able to brake quite deep into the corner. I think that will be the biggest challenge, and when we figure that out, I think we will be very competitive."
The Pontiac GXP.R teams have witnessed three very competitive races since the Grand-Am Rolex Series adjusted the other competitors in the series just before Laguna Seca in May. The Banner Racing team, as well as the Racers Edge group, has been able to lead laps as well as celebrate the first win for the GXP.R by Tim Lewis Jr. and Leighton Reese at Lime Rock Park.
Lewis Jr. and Reese in the No. 06 GXP.R have one win on the season and will look to Mid-Ohio for another top finish. The pair has consistently run at the front, but two pit lane infractions for hitting a tire have cost them valuable season ending points.
"I've been to Mid-Ohio a few times in vintage cars," Lewis Jr. said. "I really like the track, I think the GXP.R will work really well there. After the six-hour we are motivated to get a good result, hitting tires on pit lane gets kind of old. Mid-Ohio offers us a lot opportunity to exploit the GXP.R racers strong points. Putting the power down coming out of the slower corners is a real positive for us and that should pay off this weekend. We may not be a pole car, but I think our consistency will pay off."
Paul Edwards and Kelly Collins have moved into second in the Rolex Series GT driver point standings. The pair has relied on consistent top finishes, though not yet posting an overall GT victory in their GXP.R.
"I won at Mid-Ohio in 2005, but we need to do it in the Pontiac," Collins said. "We did well there last year in the GTO.R and finished second. We are better this year, but so are the other top eight cars in our class. We have moved up to second in points since Watkins Glen, but Paul and I are hungry for a win. We have been competitive in the last three races, but haven't taken the checker first. The wins will come and so will the points. We are focused on the end of the year driver and manufacturer championships."
Once again the Grand-Am Rolex Series will run a split DP and GT race format.
-credit: gm racing