Phoenix: Lexus preview

LEXUS LOOKS FOR A REVERSAL OF FORTUNE AT PHOENIX TORRANCE, Calif. (May 10, 2006) -- Last weekend, the Lexus Daytona Prototype program went through a complete reversal of fortune from a year ago. After winning both the pole and the race in 2005,...

LEXUS LOOKS FOR A REVERSAL OF FORTUNE AT PHOENIX

TORRANCE, Calif. (May 10, 2006) -- Last weekend, the Lexus Daytona Prototype program went through a complete reversal of fortune from a year ago. After winning both the pole and the race in 2005, misfortune affected both teams at Laguna Seca Raceway in last Sunday's race. If the same phenomenon holds true in this weekend's Gainsco Grand Prix, the Lexus camp should walk away with its first Phoenix victory in three years.

This past weekend, a controversial call cost Oswaldo Negri and co-driver Mark Patterson's the possibility of their first victory in the #60 Flight Options Lexus-Riley. Ironically, it was a year ago at Phoenix where Negri and Mike Borkowski were handed another controversial penalty while leading late in the race, costing them the win at Phoenix International Raceway. Their only solace from this past weekend was gained in registering a second-place finish in the qualifying race last Saturday.

Negri's not the only one hoping the pendulum swings the other way at PIR this year. Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz dominated the first half of the 2005 race at PIR, stretching out a 17-second lead before a mid-race yellow bunched up the field. Unfortunately, Pruett was hit while leading and crashed. The offending driver was parked and then suspended for the following week, but unfortunately, the contact ended not only the Ganassi team's chances for the win, but also their hopes for a repeat Daytona Prototype championship.

Pruett and Diaz have registered a pair of victories this season at Mexico City and Long Beach and may have been headed for a third triumph at Laguna Seca last weekend before being knocked off the track while running in third place at the midway point of the event. They enter this weekend's action in third-place in the championship race, just 12 points out of the top spot.

Borkowski, too, will look for redemption at PIR after last year's controversial call. He's back in the same #6 Mears Motor Coach Riley he drove for Michael Shank Racing a year ago, but this time, he'll be joined by French Canadian rookie Antoine Bessette, who was impressive in his debut at Laguna Seca a week ago. The pairing had a strong top-10 run at Laguna last weekend before getting involved in one of the race's many incidents.

Lexus enters this weekend's competition in second-place in the Daytona Prototypes Manufacturer's Championship, trailing Porsche by seven points. With three victories this season, Lexus-powered entries have won 11 races and 18 pole positions in 32 Rolex Series events since entering the series in 2004.

-lexus/toyota

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Scott Pruett , Luis Diaz , Mike Borkowski , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Antoine Bessette , Mark Patterson , Michael Shank
Teams Michael Shank Racing