Phoenix: Howard-Boss Motorsports race report

BOSS Snowplow Team Battles to Top Fifteen Finish in GAINSCO Grand Prix Determined effort overcomes qualifying race accident and early contact Avondale, AZ . The 2006 Grand American Rolex Series visit to the Phoenix International Raceway...

BOSS Snowplow Team Battles to Top Fifteen Finish in GAINSCO Grand Prix
Determined effort overcomes qualifying race accident and early contact

Avondale, AZ . The 2006 Grand American Rolex Series visit to the Phoenix International Raceway will be one that the BOSS Snowplow Racing Team from Howard-Boss Motorsports would like to forget. However, a determined effort by the veteran team and drivers overcame a potentially disasterous qualifying race accident and damage as a result of contact early in the GAINSCO Grand Prix to battle their way to a 15th-place finish on Saturday evening.

With temperatures in the Phoenix area soaring well over 100 degrees, practice for the 250-mile event began on Thursday afternoon. Andy Wallace and Butch Leitzinger alternated practicing the #4 BOSS Snowplow Pontiac Crawford on Thursday. Leitzinger traveled to Houston, Texas on Friday to compete in an American Le Mans Series event; therefore, Wallace would practice and run the qualifying race at Phoenix.

The starting positions for the qualifying race were determined by the fastest speed recorded in the practice session on Friday morning. Andy Wallace drove the #4 BOSS Snowplow Pontiac Crawford during that session, and posted the 13th fastest speed. Therefore, Wallace would start 13th in the 30-minute qualifying race on Friday evening.

With a competitive field of 23 Daytona Prototypes on the tight 1.51-mile Phoenix course, the battle for positions during the qualifying race would, no doubt, be fierce. On lap ten, the #60 Lexus Riley driven by Oswaldo Negri made contact with the #39 Cheever Racing Porsche Crawford driven by Christian Fittipaldi. The #39 Crawford spun in front of the oncoming field resulting in a massive accident involving six cars. Along with the #60 and #39 cars, the #4 BOSS Snowplow Pontiac Crawford, the #23 Alex Job Racing Porsche Crawford, the #58 Brumos Porsche, and the #40 Derhaag Motorsports Riley were heavily damaged in the accident. As a result of his involvement in the accident, Negri was penalized one minute in the final rundown of the race. Then, Grand Am announced on Saturday morning that Negri had been suspended for the GAINSCO Grand Prix at Phoenix.

The BOSS Snowplow Racing Team quickly evaluated the damage to their Pontiac Crawford and began repairs. The team worked until 2 AM on Saturday, then returned at 10 AM to complete the repairs. Their determined effort and hard work had the #4 BOSS Snowplow Pontiac Crawford ready to participate in the Saturday afternoon final practice session.

Butch Leitzinger would start the Howard-Boss Motorsports entry in the 21st position for the 250-mile GAINSCO Grand Prix on Saturday evening. Within three laps, Leitzinger had worked his way up to the 12th position. Six laps later, the veteran road racer was running eighth. Leitzinger would move to seventh when the first full course caution of the race waved on lap 34. Crew Chief Catherine Wallace brought Leitzinger to the pits for tires and fuel during this caution period. Leitzinger would restart seventh on lap 39.

The BOSS Snowplow Pontiac Crawford would run as high as sixth on lap 31 before dropping back to eighth. Then, on lap fifty, the next major issue for the BOSS Snowplow Team would surface. While working his way through traffic, Leitzinger made contact with a Corvette GT car. The #4 Pontiac Crawford suffered heavy damage to the right front, requiring a green-flag pit stop on lap 53. During this stop, the BOSS Snowplow crew replaced the front nose section, serviced the car, and Andy Wallace climbed aboard for his stint in the race. Wallace would reenter the event in the 19th position, three laps down to the leaders. From then on, it was a matter of survival and racing to gain as many positions as possible in the second half of the race.

Although Wallace would post competitive lap times, the deficit was too great to overcome in the remaining laps. The sports car ace would move to 18th on lap 80, to 17th on lap 84, and up to 16th by lap 90. Wallace would make his final pit stop of the race during another full course caution on lap 94 for fuel and tires. Now set to race to the finish, Wallace would gain another position before the checkered flag waved. The 15th-place finish was certainly not the desired or expected result for this event. However, if not for the effort by the BOSS Snowplow Team battling their way through the various issues and obstacles they faced, the outcome would not have been as positive.

"We really had our share of problems this weekend," Wallace commented. "The accident in the qualifying race was absurd. The #39 car got turned right in front of us. I had nowhere to go, and neither did anyone else. There were many good cars damaged as a result. But, our BOSS Snowplow Team worked overtime to get our Pontiac Crawford back in race form. They did a fantastic job working long hours in this heat. It was a tough weekend, but we'll continue to work hard and look forward to Watkins Glen in several weeks."

The next race on the 2006 Grand American Rolex Series schedule is the Sahlen Six Hours of the Glen at Watkins Glen International on June 3rd. Practice and qualifying for the only six-hour event on the Rolex Series schedule will begin on June 2nd.

Note: On Saturday afternoon at Phoenix, Grand Am announced that qualifying races would no longer be held to determine the starting position for their feature races. Instead, the Rolex Series will return to the traditional qualifying format with the fastest speed during a designated timed session setting the starting grid.

-hbm-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Andy Wallace , Butch Leitzinger , Christian Fittipaldi , Catherine Wallace