Mid-Ohio: GM Racing preview

Pontiac Grand-Am Teams Haul to Mid-Ohio Pontiac GXP.R teams lead wins and points Riley-Matthews leads Pontiac DP contingent Detroit, Mich., June 17, 2008 -- Pontiac Daytona Prototype (DP) and GT teams have reached the halfway point of the ...

Pontiac Grand-Am Teams Haul to Mid-Ohio
Pontiac GXP.R teams lead wins and points
Riley-Matthews leads Pontiac DP contingent

Detroit, Mich., June 17, 2008 -- Pontiac Daytona Prototype (DP) and GT teams have reached the halfway point of the season and are headed for round seven of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 to be run at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course June 21.

Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards lead the GT points in their GXP.R with Riley-Matthews drivers Marc Goossens and Jim Matthews running second in the DP standings.

Mid-Ohio represents the mid-point of the Rolex Series season. Collins and Edwards lead the GT standings by 35 on the strength of three wins at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Laguna Seca and Lime Rock Park. Stevenson Motorsports has also been a GT standout with their Pontiac. Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis have posted victories at Mexico City and Virginia International Raceway (VIR) and are currently fourth in the points.

The No. 07 Banner Racing team of Collins and Edwards take their points lead to the 2.2-mile, 13-turn natural road course located just south of Mansfield. The pair will be looking to add a fourth win to their season total but the added weight that came before the last event at Watkins Glen as well as the balance adjustment will certainly affect the GXP.R at Mid-Ohio.

"We have yet to win at Mid-Ohio with the Pontiac," Edwards said. "I drove with Ron Fellows there in 2006 and we were leading with a few laps to go and we had a part failure which put us out. We have been strong at the track and the opportunity has been there, but we just haven't had that top finish. It will be tougher than it has been with our weight penalty and having more weight on the front end. When we entered Grand-Am with the GTO.R we did most of the development at Mid-Ohio, so we know which way to go on the setup. The Mazda will be strong. We just need to concentrate on the points and keep up the good pit work. "

In the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports GXP.R Liddell and Davis have two podium finishes at Lime Rock Park and Watkins Glen to go along with their two wins at Mexico City and VIR. The pair currently are fourth in the GT point standings and are looking forward to the race this weekend.

"The Stevenson Motorsports team accomplished quite a bit duringthe Mondaytest at Watkins Glen following our most recent podium finish," Davis said. "We spent the morning session trying a completely different set-up to the one that we ran during the race. We wanted to see if a different approach to the car would help us to maximize grip levels on the difficult circuit. Although the basic settings were completely different, the car performed well. We were able to gather useful data that we can apply to other tracks we will visit this season. In the afternoon, we went back to the race set-up that we had on the car during the six-hour. We were having some minor tire issues during the race, and we wanted to see if we could recreate the conditions that caused them. With the help of the Pirelli engineers at hand, we gathered more information to help the Pontiac GXP.R maximize grip levels while trying to minimize tire degradation. I feel that Mid-Ohio will be a great circuit for the Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R. The nature of the course layout should allow us to get the most out of the car. Pratt & Miller and GM Racing have done a masterful job in building the GXP.Rwith ultimate adjustability in mind. Mid-Ohio is the type of circuit that requires the set-up to be maximized for handling, so we are looking forward to rolling off the truck in prime fashion. We expect to have the Bryan Mark Financial Pontiac GXP.R up front all weekend long. As a team, our confidence is very high right now with four out of five podium finishes in the most recent rounds of the Rolex Series. We will be gunning to get back to the top step of the podium to help gather valuable championship points for both the team and the manufacturer."

In the No. 72 Autohaus Motorsports Pontiac Tim Lewis Jr. and Lawson Aschenbach have been able to lead races, but have only managed a best finish of fourth. The team ran a trouble free race at Watkins Glen and is looking to translate that same performance to Mid-Ohio with a better result.

"Last time I was there I got third in the Cadillac," Aschenbach said. "It is my favorite track in the country. Having driven the World Challenge Cadillac at Mid-Ohio should help as the handling characteristics are very similar. I think we will have a good weekend. The Pontiac has good grip and brakes well and luckily there is no long straight. We will have keep our nose clean and have a good fin. We have had plenty chances to make up for Daytona. We have put ourselves in a hole with the points. We need to try and win races. Mid-Ohio will be a good track to have a run at it. I think our bad luck is behind us. Watkins Glen was a good run for us; we could have won Lime Rock and Laguna."

The No. 06 Banner Racing team will have Marc Bunting partnering Jan Magnussen this weekend. The pair each has three appearances in the No. 06 GXP.R so far this season, but have yet to partner for a race.

"I am excited for Mid-Ohio, it is a track that I like and have had good results at in the past" Bunting said. "I am driving with Jan this weekend and he is coming off of the Le Mans 24 Hour, so this will be an easy stint for him. The Pontiac has been a good car at Mid-Ohio in the past. The track is technical and that suits the car very well. Even with the extra weight I think the car has enough adjustability to do well there. When I drove the GTO.R there two years ago we were good as well. Jan has had good finishes in the car this year. That puts some pressure on me to have a strong start and give him the car upfront. Every time he is in the car expectations are high for everyone. I will be qualifying and starting, with Leighton I was finishing, so a little different menu this weekend."

In the No. 32 PR1 Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R Mike Forest and Patrick Barrett will make their second appearance as a driving partnership at Mid-Ohio. The team continues to improve as they make sporadic races throughout the season.

"So far this season the only track that has been familiar to me has been Laguna and that was our strongest event," Forest said. "Although it has been years since I have been to Mid-Ohio, it is a track where I have driven before so I look forward to knowing the track and how to approach the corners. We have improved as a team through the season so far, given we didn't have the best of luck at Watkins, but still came away with a 12th place finish having improved eight spots we have to look at it as a reasonable weekend. I think we are on the verge of the performance we are all looking for and have come to expect at PR1 Motorsports. So with a little luck and our continued dedication Mid-Ohio could be the event where we break into the top five. The Mid-Ohio circuit is a good challenge to the drivers because the busier sections of the course make the drivers find the compromise that produces lap time. The elevation at Mid-Ohio, although not huge, adds to the challenge because a number of corners crest right at the apex which is when you are asking the most from the car. The torque that the GXP.R is known for will be an asset in certain parts of the track where there are tight corners and short straights. The Pontiac will also see its strengths in stability and adjustability produce rewards with the elevation and combination of high and low speed corners."

In DP the Riley-Matthews team of Marc Goossens and Jim Matthews have won at Mexico City and been on the podium at VIR and Laguna Seca. They have also come fourth in the Rolex 24 Hour at Daytona and at Homestead. The duos consistency has them 37 points out of the DP lead. For Goossens Mid-Ohio remains one of the few tracks that he has yet to race.

"We surehad a good test the Monday after the race at Watkins Glen," Goossens said. "During the weekend we had not the best car but during the test, we improved quite a bit. I think we will have a much better run when we go back to the Glen in August. The team had a goodrace there last year with Jim Matthews and Ryan Hunter-Reay. Next week will be my first time at the track. I have never been there so I have no idea about the track. But with the data and some on-board footage from last year which I can study, it shouldn't be too hard to find a good pace in practice."

SunTrust racing will run their trusted Riley again at Mid-Ohio. The team has received their second Dallara, the first being destroyed in a hauler fire following the Laguna Seca round. The Dallara is scheduled to reappear on the grid in round eight at Daytona in July 3. Michael Valiante and Max Angelelli finished third at Watkins Glen and will be looking to improve that finish by two this weekend.

"I won the Toyota Atlantic race at Mid-Ohio in 2003," Valiante said. "I've always loved that track. But 2003 was very special. The Atlantics series was very competitive. I raced against Jon Fogarty, A.J. Allmendinger, Ryan Dalziel, Danica Patrick, Joey Hand and Luis Diaz were all out there that year. At Mid-Ohio, it was a great weekend for my team. I dominated the weekend and led nearly every session. That's quite an accomplishment in that company. Last year we ran DP only but I think it's a good thing no matter how you look at it running with the GT cars. If you can run up front and drive away, having the GT cars out there works in your favor. If you get behind because of a bad pit stop or something, it allows you to catch back up. So it works both ways."

The GAINSCO/Bob Stallings team is still looking their first win on the 2008 season. Once again the team is the defending Mid-Ohio race champions and believes there is not better track for them to get back to the winners circle than this track.

"Mid-Ohio is possibly my favorite track in the states," Fogarty said. "I think the circuit has a nice layout from a driving perspective, but more than anything I just have a lot of good memories from the place. My first race East of the West coast was at Mid-Ohio when I traveled back to run the SCCA Run-Offs in 1995 in a Formula Vee. It was my first year racing cars and I had won the SCCA San Francisco region and earned enough national points to go to the Run-Offs. I qualified off pole and finished fourth. Not great but it seemed pretty huge at the time considering I was new to it all. The track was also the site of my first victory in a pro series with paid prize money came at Mid-Ohio. It was the 1998 Barber Dodge Pro Series and it was a wet race. I spun on the formation lap and started dead last and then passed the whole field, including my current teammate Alex (Gurney), to take the victory. My Dad's family is all from Ohio and they were all there, which made it better. Then, of course, our Grand-Am Rolex Series run there last year was great, definitely another fond memory. No doubt, we left Mid-Ohio feeling like we were hitting our stride. When you have a race like we had last year it really makes you feel that all of the hard work is paying off. We are going to use the race this year to get back on track and shake off some of the bad luck we have been having. It is a handling track so we will be good, and our Pontiac is giving us all of the horsepower it has."

Krohn Racing drivers Ricardo Zonta and Nic Jonsson have been running toward the front in their new Lola for the past several races. The teams from Atlanta has a podium finish, but are hungry for their first win in their new car. The high downforce Lola should be well suited for Mid-Ohio.

"I'm just looking forward to being there again and with this new Lola car," van de Poele said. "As I have said before, every time we are more competitive. The last time, it was a long race and it was very difficult to be competitive. This time I'm sure we have a good chance to be in a very good position. I'm curious to see how we are going to do there (at Mid-Ohio). You know, the approach does not change very much because we always want to be the best every time. Even if you run at Le Mans for 24 hours or at a two-hour-and-forty-five minutes race, you always have the same motivation. You just want to be in front and do the best you can and make no mistakes. So, I'm just looking forward to being there in Grand-Am again and with Tracy and with the good atmosphere of the Krohn Racing team."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams Krohn Racing , Stevenson Motorsports