AVOIDABLE CONTACT ELIMINATES COMPUSA FROM PHOENIX 250 AVONDALE, Ariz. (September 11, 2005) -- Just when things were starting to come together for the no.01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley in the Phoenix 250 at PIR, Scott Pruett was tapped from behind in...
AVOIDABLE CONTACT ELIMINATES COMPUSA FROM PHOENIX 250
AVONDALE, Ariz. (September 11, 2005) -- Just when things were starting to come together for the no.01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley in the Phoenix 250 at PIR, Scott Pruett was tapped from behind in Turn 1 and given an unceremonious exit while contending for the team's third win of the Rolex Sports Car Series season at Phoenix International Raceway. The CompUSA team assessed the heavy rear-end damage that followed the incident, and concluded that the car was beyond repair on Lap 79 of the incident-filled 146-lap duel in the desert.
CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates co-driver Luis Diaz started third on the grid and immediately found himself in second place when a two-car incident resulted in the polewinning #54 Daytona Prototype spinning off the Turn 1 line in a tornado of debris. Another break came Diaz' way on Lap 15 when the raceleader (#6 Michael Shank Racing) was the victim of a one-minute penalty for avoidable contact. Diaz took the lead and had the field a whopping 16 seconds in arrears of his CGR-prepared machine when a full course yellow on Lap 60 nullified the advantage after Grand American spied debris on the racing surface.
The CompUSA crew made its first pit stop on Lap 61, and Diaz turned the helm over to Pruett with the car running strong. With the lead firmly in hand on Lap 68, Pruett and company were poised to put the no.01 machine back on the map as he hit every apex in anticipation of the team's third win of the season. But on a Lap 78 restart with Michael McDowell's no.19 machine breathing down his neck, the defending Rolex Series champ was turned around in Turn 1-- and retired shortly thereafter with significant rear-end damage.
The no.19 machine would go on to finish sixth after the incident, but not after serving a one-minute penalty on pit lane for avoidable contact.
"That guy is getting into an awful lot of cars out there," said a justifiably upset Pruett. "He's in over his head. I just don't know what to say. If he wants to come out here and run with the big boys, he's got a lot to learn. We came into the pits after we were taken out and the studs to the rear valance were just totally gone. We had no chance to go back out."
Diaz was equally upset after the incident, as the Mexican native began to acknowledge the fact that the team took a major blow in the championship title bout.
"This is just so costly for us," said Diaz. "I can't believe it. This was a real crucial race for us in the championship and we had no control over what happened to us tonight."
However, CompUSA maintained their second position in the championship, but SunTrust Racing's lead grew from 19 to 36 markers (344-108) with just three races remaining.