Millville: Series race report

Negri, Patterson Claim First 2008 Grand-Am Rolex Series Victory Sunday at New Jersey Motorsports Park Ganassi team clinches owner championship; Lally, George also first-time 2008 GT winners MILLVILLE, N.J. (Aug. 31, 2008) - Oswaldo Negri held...

Negri, Patterson Claim First 2008 Grand-Am Rolex Series Victory Sunday at New Jersey Motorsports Park

Ganassi team clinches owner championship; Lally, George also first-time 2008 GT winners

MILLVILLE, N.J. (Aug. 31, 2008) - Oswaldo Negri held off Max Angelelli by .459 seconds Sunday to win the first professional feature race at New Jersey Motorsports Park, the Supercar Life 250, while Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas clinched the Daytona Prototype team championship with a ninth-place finish in a backup car.

Negri led the final 45 laps in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley started by Mark Patterson, scoring the second career victory for the team. Negri and Patterson teamed to win the 2006 season-ending race at Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City, Utah. It was their first podium finish since they placed third at Homestead-Miami Speedway, after Negri won the pole for the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Angelelli came up short in a bid for the second consecutive triumph for the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley started by Michael Valiante.

Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand took third in the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Ruby Tuesday Porsche Riley, taking their second podium finish of the season and best outing since placing second at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Pruett destroyed the primary No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley in a testing accident on Thursday. The team went back to its Indianapolis shop to prepare the car that last competed in their Rolex 24 At Daytona victory. The finish - coupled with a fifth-place finish by Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty - opened a 38-point lead (386-348) in the team standings with only the Sept. 20 finale at Miller Motorsports Park remaining on the schedule. Teams may score a maximum 35 points at each event. Pruett and Rojas each need to run 30 minutes at Miller to score points.

Joao Barbosa and JC France finished fourth for the fourth time this season in the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley. Barbosa was running second at the final restart with two laps remaining before being bumped off course and passed by both Angelelli and Auberlen.

Gurney finished fifth - going off course in the closing laps in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley after contact with the No. 10 machine. He was followed by Brian Frisselle in the No. 61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley started from the pole by Mark Wilkins; the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley of John Pew and Ian James; the No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola of Tracy Krohn and Eric van de Poele; Pruett and Rojas; and Darren Law and David Donohue in the No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley.

Donohue led 38 laps early in the event, passing Patterson for the lead on lap 20 and remaining out front through his pit stop on lap 57. Law took over but was held up in traffic and could not work his way back into competition.

Gurney led three laps after Donohue's stop, with Negri taking over on lap 61 and pacing the final 45 circuits.

There were five cautions for 25 laps, with many of them for debris and gravel following off course excursions. The race came down to a two-lap sprint, with Negri holding on after Barbosa lost second position on the final lap.

In GT, rookie Tim George Jr. scored his first Rolex Series victory after starting the No. 67 TRG Johnny Love Vodka/994 Magazine Porsche GT3. It was the 19th career class triumph for Andy Lally, who took over and held off Robin Liddell by 1.776 seconds.

The second-place finish by Liddell and Andrew Davis in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R tightened the point race into the season finale. The pair entered the event third in the team points, trailing Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards by 16 points. Collins and Edwards finished ninth in the No. 07 Banner Racing Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R, Liddell and Davis now trail by only five points (337-332).

Nick Ham and Sylvain Tremblay entered the event second in the team points, but struggled with an oil leak to place 16th in the No. 70 SpeedSource Castrol Mazda RX-8. They enter the final round 12 points behind the leaders.

Ryan Phinny led 34 laps early in the event in the No. 21 Matt Connolly Motorsports Pontiac GTO.R, with Diego Alessi taking third on the final lap to give the team its third third-place finish of the campaign.

The season wraps up at Salt Lake City with SunRichGourmet.com 1000 presented by the Grand and Little America Hotels at Miller Motorsports Park.

NEWS & NOTES

- The victory is the second career Daytona Prototype victory for Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson, and the second for Michael Shank Racing. Negri, Patterson and Shank last won the Sunchaser 1000 at Miller Motorsports Park.

- Patterson and Negri's victory at Miller was also the first time the series had competed on the track. Sunday's race at Thunderbolt Raceway at New Jersey Motorsports Park was the first time the series had raced on the 2.25-mile track.

- This is the third victory in four races this season for Ford, tying the manufacturer with Pontiac with the second most victories this season. Lexus leads with six, and BMW has one. Porsche is still looking for its first victory.

- This is the 12th in 13 races this season the Riley chassis has won.

- This is the first time this season the Daytona Prototype winners have come from the 10th starting position.

- The margin of victory for Negri was .459 seconds, the sixth closest race in Daytona Prototype history.

- This is the second straight podium finish and third this season for Max Angelelli and Michael Valiante, who finished second in the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Dallara.

- This is the second podium finish and third top five for Joey Hand and Bill Auberlen, who finished third in the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Riley. It also gave the podium three different engine manufacturers in the top three.

- This is the fourth fourth-place finish of the season for the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley and drivers Joao Barbosa and JC France. Barbosa ran as high as second on the final lap before falling to fourth.

- This is the 11th top-10 finish of the season for Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley. The car now ties the No. 01 Lexus Riley with the most races led - 10 - this season.

- Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas finished ninth in the race, their 12th top-10 finish of the season, and own a 38-point advantage over Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty in the standings.

- David Donohue of Malvern, Pa. finished 10th with co-driver Darren Law in the No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley, the duo's ninth straight top-10 finish, currently a series best.

- Ten of the 17 Daytona Prototypes finished all 105 laps of the race.

- Seven drivers in six Daytona Prototypes led laps in the race: Oswaldo Negri (45), David Donohue (38), Michael Valiante (9), Mark Wilkins (6), Alex Gurney (3), Mark Patterson (2), Joey Hand (2).

*****

- The GT victory by TRG was the first for the team since the Montreal 400k at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

- Andy Lally scored his 13th career Rolex Series GT victory and Tim George Jr. earned his first. This is the record-extending 24th Rolex Series GT victory for TRG.

- The 13th-place starting position was the furthest back a duo has started from and won in GT. Previously, all 11 Rolex Series GT races had been won from the front two rows.

- Porsche now owns two victories this season in Rolex Series competition, both in GT.

- Five teams have now won in Rolex Series competition this season: Banner Racing, Stevenson Motorsports, SpeedSource, Farnbacher Loles Racing and TRG.

- For Stevenson Motorsports drivers Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis, it was the duo's series-leading eighth Rolex Series GT podium finish this season. The duo is one of three pairs to have scored three victories this season.

- Ham has now led a GT class high 236 laps this season.

- Diego Alessi and Matt Connolly earned the Matt Connolly Motorsports Pontiac GTO.R's third podium finish of the season with third place, their second straight podium. It was Alessi's third third-place finish of the season.

- TRG also finished fourth in the race, with Spencer Pumpelly and Ted Ballou driving the No. 67 TRG Porsche GT.

- Eric Lux and Leh Keen finished fifth in the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3, their fifth top-five finish of the 2008 season.

- Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards finished ninth in the No. 07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R. It ended a four-race streak in which they had finished behind Sylvain Tremblay and Nick Ham, who finished 16th. Five races ago, heading into the EMCO Gears Classic at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the lead was 35 points; the lead is now five.

- Seven drivers in seven cars led in GT competition: Andy Lally (38), Ryan Phinny (34), Patrick Barrett (16), Robin Liddell (9), Steve Johnson (2), Bryan Sellers (2), Patrick Dempsey (1).

POST-RACE QUOTES - PODIUM FINISHERS

Mark Patterson (No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley): "The car was fantastic and I turned it over to Ozz (Negri) from the lead so that was a great way to start off the race. At one point, it looked as though our strategy was off, but in the end the Mike Shank guys did it again, and we were right where we wanted to be with Ozz up front and controlling the race. There was a lot of aggressive racing out there, but Ozz and the whole team did a fantastic job and its great to come home with a win. Now we head off to Miller where we've won before, so hopefully we can do this again soon!"

Oswaldo Negri (No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley): "This is amazing to get back to the top step of the podium again with Mark (Patterson) and Michael Shank Racing. It was a very hard race and I'm so happy to take another win," said Negri. "It was tough at the end of the race because there was so much pick up out there and the track was breaking up on some of the corners, so you had to place the car very carefully. I also sort of had to play cards with the cars behind to protect my position with the GT traffic and it ended up perfectly. I wasn't worried about anything on that last lap, I was just trying to work on the tires as much as I could before the restart and it worked out perfectly. I just focused forward and brought it home. We had a great start to the season with the pole at Daytona and then some set backs so this feels fantastic and I can't wait for Miller."

Max Angelelli (No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Dallara): "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. 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."

Michael Valiante (No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Dallara): "We had a really good start. I was able to get by the 61 and get a strong gap, there. We've got the SunTrust car running really well, now. The team has done a phenomenal job. We're trying to understand the car well. Max and I are working together to find the best setup on the weekends. I think we're really looking strong, especially with one race to go."

Bill Auberlen (No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Riley): "The last few laps were madness; it was crazy. On restarts, we had a tough time picking up rubber, so that was really bad for us. Joey (Hand) did an awesome job. Ruby Tuesday, can't say enough about them. The only reason we are here is because our guys gave us a fantastic car this weekend, and it's probably the best it's been all year. That's hope it's that way going to Utah."

Joey Hand (No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Riley): "We came out of the trailer really good. We've been waiting for a race track that suits us, and this was the one that has suited us best so far. We tried to get a good start, and that's what we did. Everybody caught up to us, but that was okay. I went out and did my stint; I hadn't started the car for awhile, so it was a little new to me. I just wanted to get through Turn 1, get around the race track, and hopefully give Bill (Auberlen) a car that still had all the widgets on it so he could go racing."

Tim George Jr. (No. 67 TRG Porsche GT3): "It's great to win here. It's a brand new track, obviously, and it was very treacherous. I felt like I was back at Skip Barber racing since we weren't allowed to drop tires or you'd get called in, so it was a pretty big deal. I've got to thank Andy for helping me get up to speed really quick. I felt like I put a pretty good first stint in, and we were just fighting some gas issues toward the end, but other than that, we came out on top. I'm pretty happy."

Andy Lally (No. 67 TRG Porsche GT3): "It was definitely a battle (with Robin Liddell). We've had a lot of good battles in the past and this was just another one. Just like at Barber (earlier this year) it came down and we got a late yellow and went green-white-checker. I knew it was all going to hit the fan as soon as the green flag dropped, and we just had to keep him behind us. I learned on the restart before that we really had to keep our tires clean, because there was a lot of pickup here, more than usual. I guess it was just new track teething things that we had to deal with. I lost a little ground on the restart. Robin made a real good move and got by and I was able to hang on his back for a little while and get back by. I knew they were thinking championship, so I could take a little bit of a risk, but at the same time, I'm thinking championship for Tim because that was big points for the Rookie of the Year. He's got a commanding lead going into the last race of the season. We just need to be smart and get the job finished here and bring her home, and he'll be the 2008 Rookie of the Year."

Robin Liddell (No. 57 Stevenson Motorsport Pontiac GXP.R): "At the beginning we knew it was going to be a crazy race. 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 (No.) 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 Daytona Prototypes 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."

Andrew Davis (No. 57 Stevenson Motorsport Pontiac GXP.R): "What a great season! I came into the season with three podiums in my Rolex Series GT career, and Robin (Liddell) and I have eight this season. We would have really liked another win here, but we've closed the points up and are only five points behind Kelly (Collins) and Paul (Edwards) in the standings. We're really looking forward to Miller Motorsports Park; hopefully we'll do the best we can there."

Diego Alessi (No. 21 Matt Connolly Motorsports Pontiac GTO.R): "I made a mistake leaving the pits, but overall, Ryan (Phinny) drove great, and the team put together a great effort. I kept a conservative pace, and was able to drive to a good finish."

Ryan Phinny (No. 21 Matt Connolly Motorsports Pontiac GTO.R): "We had a tough going from last through the field, but the team had great strategy to get us up front. We were happy to give the car over to Diego (Alessi) in the lead. This is the team's second straight podium, and it feels good to be part of one. Hopefully we can continue this trend at Miller Motorsports Park."

-credit: garra

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Alex Gurney , Paul Edwards , Jon Fogarty , Scott Pruett , Eric van de Poele , Robin Liddell , Bill Auberlen , Michael Valiante , Joey Hand , Kelly Collins , Ian James , Andy Lally , Darren Law , David Donohue , Gilles Villeneuve , JC France , Max Angelelli , Joao Barbosa , Sylvain Tremblay , Memo Rojas , Skip Barber , Spencer Pumpelly , Andrew Davis , Alessi Diego , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Chip Ganassi , Matt Connolly , Bryan Sellers , Mark Wilkins , Tracy Krohn , John Pew , Nick Ham , Mark Patterson , Steve Johnson , Lehman Keen , Brian Frisselle , Eric Lux , Bob Stallings , Alex Job , Michael Shank , Patrick Dempsey , Ryan Phinny , Tim George Jr. , Patrick Barrett
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Krohn Racing , Stevenson Motorsports , Alex Job Racing , SpeedSource , Michael Shank Racing