SunTrust Pontiac and Stevenson Motorsports Finish Second in Jersey Collins, Edwards lead GT points, Liddell, Davis second with one to go Millville, New Jersey, August 31, 2008 -- The SunTrust Pontiac Daytona Prototype (DP) of Max Angelelli and...
SunTrust Pontiac and Stevenson Motorsports Finish Second in Jersey
Collins, Edwards lead GT points, Liddell, Davis second with one to go
Millville, New Jersey, August 31, 2008 -- The SunTrust Pontiac Daytona Prototype (DP) of Max Angelelli and Michael Valiante finished second today in the Grand-Am Rolex Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Supercar Life 250 run at New Jersey Motorsports Park today. Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis brought their No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R home in second in GT. The No. 01 Ganassi team clinched the DP championship based upon their ninth place finish.
New Jersey Motorsports Park proved it may take a year of seasoning before it is truly a track that can be liked by all. The fans turned out from the tri-state area to see some of the best action of the year, some caused by the competitors, most attributed to the dust and dirt of this brand new racing facility. Five cautions for 27 laps hampered the speed of the race, with of those caution periods used to blow dust and debris from the racing surface.
Andrew Davis started the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R from the front row and maintained second place right up to when he transferred the controls to teammate Robin Liddell. Liddell ran a conservative first part of his stint to let the race settle in. On the second half of his time in the car he began to move forward and took the lead of the GT race on lap 57 He couldn't hold off the charging 67 and with the big picture of the championship looming he ran a fast yet safe race to come home in second. Paul Edwards and Kelly Collins still lead the GT points with 337 in their Banner Pontiac GXP.R, with Liddell and Davis moving into second just five points out.
"At the beginning we knew it was going to be a crazy race," Liddell said. "I got in and took it easy the first part of my stint and just let things happen. The second half of my stint I began to charge and was able to overtake the 67 at the exit of turn one and lead. He got by me again on power down the front straight. I thought I had a good run on him later and then with 10 laps to go I got pushed wide in the last turn by two DPs and that was it. We had a great points finish, the car was excellent and now we go into the last race with a chance at the championship."
Collins and Edwards had a strong car early in the race. Collins started and was running in the top three for most of his stint. Collins turned the yellow Banner No. 07 over to Edwards who fell back in the order as a result of the pit stop. On the restart of the fourth caution period he was hit from behind by the No. 87 car. The result was a rubbing right rear tire and debris on the part of the grill in the front. The debris left the car on the next lap and the tire rub went away allowing Edwards to stay out and persevere for a 10th place finish.
"The 87 car hit me on the restart," Edwards said. "I went off the track and was able to recover, but the tire was rubbing. The car had some smoke inside, but it went away after a lap. The team mentioned that there was also some debris on the front of the car, which also went away in a lap. After that the handling of the car wasn't great and we could not afford to pit. We are still alive and the championship will go right down to the last race in three weeks."
PR1 Motorsports had a very strong day. Patrick Barrett started the race and managed to take the lead on lap three and put the white and blue GXP.R upfront for 16 laps, the first for the team in Grand-Am Rolex Series competition. Barrett handed over to Mike Forest who was eagerly making up ground. With two laps to go he went from 11th place to his finishing position of seventh.
"The car was good," Forest said. "I had too much dirt on my tires after the restarts. It took me a few laps to get them clean so I could keep pushing. Halfway through my stint the car really came to me and it was fun to drive. The track turned in a single groove. If you go off the track just a four inches it was really dirty and you pick up a lot of garbage on your tires. I was able to go from 11th to seventh in just two laps, so that proves we have a good car. Patrick also did a great job early to keep us upfront."
Ryan Phinny and Diego Alessi finished the day in third. Phinny led 34 laps early and was also the victim of an off track excursion. The Connolly Motorsports Pontiac GTO.R had its second podium finish of the year, the first coming at Mid-Ohio in June.
"The track was really slippery," Alessi said. "It was hard to really push without taking too much risk. I took the opportunity at the end to make up some positions and we ended up third. Our second podium of the year and a good day after all that went on out there. Ryan was able to lead a lot of laps early."
The No. 06 Banner Racing Pontiac was started by team owner Leighton Reese. Reese was moving up the field when on lap 13 the No. 64 car puts him off in turn one. Reese came to the pits and the Banner crew had to replace a broken end link. The fix was not complete and the team took the car to the paddock for further repairs and then retired for the day.
"The team did a good job to fix the car," Bunting said. "I went out and the car just would not go straight. We had to come back to the paddock for repairs. By the time we got it just right there was really no point in returning to the race."
Tim Lewis Jr. and Terry Borcheller had the No. 72 Autohaus Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R in an excellent position with just 20 laps remaining. Borcheller and the team had brought the red and black GCP.R from a lap down back to third. Early contact proved the team's undoing when the brake pedal went to the floor on lap 85 eventually forcing the team to retire for the day.
"I was in third and just watching the 57 and 67 and waiting," Borcheller said. "I was getting ready to start to make my move when into turn seven and the brake pedal went to the floor. I came into the pits and the guys said that we had a broken hub, probably from some contact early in the race."
Valiante started from outside of the front row and by lap six he was in the lead. The No. 10 Dallara led up to the team's first pit stop. Valiante turned the wheel over to Angelelli who had some off course excursions but maintained his poise to comeback and finished second. The finish is the second best of the season. The bankers won the race just last weekend at Infineon.
"I could have overtaken him (Negri), but I would have had to push him out of the way and that would not have been fair," Angelelli said. "So, I just parked myself behind him. It was a wild race, but it is normal for a Grand-Am race. This is the way we race here. And it's very difficult. I went off a couple of times and recovered. A lot of people did the same. Everybody is so tight together. There are a lot of good cars, good drivers, good teams, and different winners. That's what makes Grand-Am racing so great."
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings drivers Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney were consistent front runners most of the day. When the team looked like they were in a position to take the lead traffic or contact would send them off of the track and back in the order. Gurney eventually brought the red 99 home in fifth. The 2007 series champions no longer have a chance to repeat as the No. 01 car clinched the championship today.
""I feel like I have had some pretty bad luck this year with traffic in general," Gurney said. "It is a shame I had somebody come in front of me right after we took the lead. We had an amazing pit stop and I thought we were in good shape. The car was really not good on restarts at all, I really struggled and I just spun the wheels almost for an entire lap, but we were still okay. I was working on Oz a little bit with Angelelli right behind me. I caught a GT car going into turn three and Max was able to gain some ground and then going into Turn 5 he just ran into the back of me. I have no idea how the officials could call it a racing incident because he wasn't alongside of me, he just hit me in the back. That put me off the track and the car filled inside with dirt and I struggled to see the rest of the time. I just tried to hang on from that point on. It was a real shame to give up position and the lead like that."
Tracy Krohn and Eric van de Poele finished their No. 75 Krohn Pontiac Lola in eighth. The duo drove a very strong race to navigate the carnage and dirt to finish strongly in the top 10 from their 15th place qualifying position.
"We knew it was going to be tough with all the traffic and in fact it was very difficult with the dust on the track as well," van de Poele. "When we had to pass a GT car, it was really a challenge because the tires picked up a lot of dust and it was very difficult. It was especially tough after a restart because the pace car was so slow and you couldn't keep the tires clean and not get pick up. Except for that, I had one spin because I tried to pass a GT and he kept me in the dust and I couldn't get back on the line and I spun. I'm still eating that dirt at this moment. Afterwards, the car was perfect with the new tires and we could rejoin the field and try to improve our position, which I did. Two laps from the end the 01 passed me and I re-passed him on the last lap. It was a good fight, very nice."
Nic Jonsson and Ricardo Zonta experienced radiator damage early the race on lap 32. Jonsson had just handed over to Zonta when the engine temperature on the Pontiac LS2 motor began to rise. Zonta pitted the green Lola which had a hole in the side pod where the radiator rides. The fix required several pit stops taking them down the finishing order and two laps off of the leader.
"The dust and track conditions were very difficult," Zonta said. "Cars were spinning off everywhere and there was so much dust on the track it was impossible to drive. For us it was bad because something got in the radiator. This made us have many pit stops to add water to keep from overheating. It was such a shame because we had a very good car and we felt good about this race."
Jim Matthews and Marc Goossens suffered another rocker arm issue this weekend. The duo and their No. 91 Riley-Matthews Pontiac had the same issue last weekend at Infineon. The team fixed the problem and Matthews brought the silver Riley home in 16th position. It was a disappointing day as the team proved they had the speed by equaling the pole qualifying time of the weekend in the morning warm-up.
"The car was good," Goossens said. "We went really fast in the morning and we were looking to have a good day. When I got in the car we were in a great position to move forward and have a good finish. But we had the same issue as last weekend."
Cheever Racing had another tough outing this weekend. In the first turn on the first lap Antonio Garcia went in and had an electrical problem which cut power to the car. Garcia spun and then was able to get restarted. He then spun again facing the exit of turn one in the middle of the track. The GT field came at him with everyone missing him but the last car, which tore off the front right front wheel of the Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Pontiac Coyote. Newly indoctrinated U.S. citizen Christian Fittipaldi never saw race action.
-credit: gm racing