Pruett and Papis Win EMCO Gears Mid-Ohio Road Racing Classic LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 7, 2004) -- After finishing second in the Paul Revere 250 presented by Brumos Porsche last month, No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley co-drivers...
Pruett and Papis Win EMCO Gears Mid-Ohio Road Racing Classic
LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 7, 2004) -- After finishing second in the Paul Revere 250 presented by Brumos Porsche last month, No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley co-drivers Scott Pruett and Max Papis returned to their winning ways in Saturday's EMCO Gears Mid-Ohio Road Racing Classic.
It was the duo's third win of the 2004 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series season, all of them coming within the span of the past four races. The triumph allowed them to extend their lead in the Daytona Prototype championship standings to 22 points (218-196) after seven of 12 races.
Papis started from the pole position and claimed an early lead, but a Lap 12 caution flag to retrieve Brent Martini's No. 81 BMW Doran from the Turn 14 gravel trap bunched up the field. On the restart, Wayne Taylor in the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley began pressuring Papis and claimed the lead from the Italian on Lap 36.
"We had a really fast past in the beginning, and unfortunately, that problem affected our rhythm," Papis said. "I think this whole weekend has been about teamwork. The team has been working to make improvements on the car, and we knew from Daytona, we had to work harder. Lexus has put in a lot of hours and working really hard in maximizing everything we could. The guys have been doing everything they can; it was a really important day for the No. 01 car."
Three laps after losing the lead to Taylor, the full-course yellow flag flew again when defending race champion Terry Borcheller slid into the gravel trap in Turn 9, bringing the bulk of the field on to pit road for their first pit stops of the day. During the stop, the CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing crew got Pruett--who was nursing rib injuries from a crash during practice for Sunday's Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis on Friday--into the car and back on track in the lead.
As the laps wound down, Pruett took on all comers including Emanuel Collard in the No. 10, Butch Leitzinger in the No. 4 Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford, the No. 58 Red Bull-Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcar of David Donohue, teammate Luis Diaz in the No. 02 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley and a hard-charging Andy Wallace in the No. 2 CITGO Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford to win by 2.7 seconds.
"As long as we were under green, I was OK because you've got enough adrenaline pumping you don't feel it," said Pruett--who is headed back to Indianapolis for the Brickyard 400 where he will start 42nd. "But under the yellow, it was killing me. Victory takes the edge off. The car was good. I ran on Thursday, Max ran on Friday and we made some changes to it. I asked the car to go fast, and it went fast. When you're going for a shoot out like that, you're going ten-tenths."
Wallace and co-driver Milka Duno came home in second for their best result together since winning the Grand Prix of Miami in February. It was Wallace's second straight podium finish (he was third in the Paul Revere 250 with NASCAR NEXTEL Cup star Tony Stewart as his co-driver), and it enabled him to move into sole possession of third place in Daytona Prototype driver points behind Pruett and Papis.
"We've done a lot of testing," Wallace said. "We went to Barber and VIR. We did a lot of work and got the car back to balance. I am really, really happy because of all of the people at Crawford have done so much work since the last race. They've really changed the car, and it feels really good now. I think we're catching up with others. We're not quite there. It's always healthy to gain ground. We keep working away, just little things. I'm sure the car will get better, and I'm really looking forward to next Thursday and Friday (at Watkins Glen). It should be a great race."
"We were working very hard for the last few weeks with the car for this race," Duno contributed. "It was a very good car, but we continued working because we knew that there was a little bit more. It was a very good result."
Diaz and co-driver Jimmy Morales claimed their second podium finish in three races with a third place performance in the No. 02. Donohue and Darren Law brought the No. 58 home with its best result of the season in fourth place, and it was also a season-best performance for Chris Hall and Larry Huang in the No. 39 The Spark of Georgia Tech Pontiac Crawford, as they finished fifth.
AUBERLEN SETS NEW RECORD WITH SIXTH CONSECUTIVE CLASS VICTORY
No. 21 Prototype Technology Group BMW M3 driver Bill Auberlen established a new Rolex Sports Car Series record for consecutive victories in any class by earning his sixth straight GT triumph in the EMCO Gears Mid-Ohio Road Racing Classic. Auberlen started from the pole, and he and co-driver Justin Marks never relinquished the lead. They finished more than a lap ahead of the No. 77 G&W Motorsports Porsche GT3 RS of Spencer Pumpelly and Mark Greenburg.
"I think we've had more competition this weekend than we have had this year," Marks said. "Those No. 77 guys did a great job keeping it in contention. To be honest, we were worried about them. The PTG team knows how to win endurance races. The pit strategy was perfect, and we got lucky that the car was so fast. That's what got us to victory."
Chris Gleason, RJ Valentine and Ian James finished third in the No. 66 The Racer's Group Porsche GT3 RS. Auberlen's triumph coupled with a fourth-place class performance by Boris Said and Joey Hand in the No. 22 PTG BMW M3 gave Auberlen sole possession of the GT driver points lead.
"It feels good," Auberlen said. "You don't set out to do that (set a record). That just comes with a great team, a great car and luck. We've pretty much have had that for six races. It's unbelievable. I think Cort (Wagner) and I held the race record in the Ferrari, and that was a feat. Now to win six, that's awesome. I think that puts me in the lead for the championship too. I'm happy."
TWO-IN-A-ROW FOR NONNAMAKER
For the second straight race, North Canton, Ohio-native Wayne Nonnamaker drove the No. 41 ORISON-Planet Earth Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup for the entire distance, and for the second straight race, he claimed the Super Grand Sport (SGS) class victory. After starting from the rear of the field due to a post-qualifying penalty, Nonnamaker charged through the pack and came home slightly less than one second ahead of SGS co-points leaders Marc Bunting and Andy Lally in the No. 38 TPC Racing Porsche GT3 Cup.
"It was a great race out there," Nonnamaker said. "Lally and Dumoulin are great drivers. It's such a thrill to run with great guys like them. TPC is a great team. This is the 20th anniversary of (our) team; it's our 50th professional race win and 150th professional podium. To win here, at home, it is just so awesome with our all friends and family. I want to say get well to Lindy Davis, our fellow SGS driver's wife who was in a car accident, and our thoughts and prayers are with her."
After two straight disappointing results, the No. 38 TPC Racing Porsche GT3 Cup returned to the podium with a third place run in the hands of Michael Levitas and Jean-Francois Dumoulin.