Phoenix: Shane Lewis preview

Shane Lewis Returns to Site of First Grand American Success AVONDALE, Ariz., September 8, 2005 -- Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) has always been good to Shane Lewis. While now living in Jupiter, Fla., Lewis spent several years...

Shane Lewis Returns to Site of First Grand American Success

AVONDALE, Ariz., September 8, 2005 -- Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) has always been good to Shane Lewis. While now living in Jupiter, Fla., Lewis spent several years early in his racing career living and racing in the Phoenix-area. In 2002, he captured his first Grand-Am Cup GS race at the 1.51-mile, 11-turn track in the Avondale, Arizona community. While always a very successful driver, that win spurred-on his Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series career which saw the 20-time 24 hour event participant hired to drive the Southard Motorsports BMW-powered Daytona Prototype (DP) last season. Now wheeling a Riley chassis powered by the German V8 for the Steve Southard-owned operation, Lewis looks for the fast straights and tight infield to play into the hands of the PAP-Parts/ OZEXE No. 3 in Saturday's Phoenix 250.

"Phoenix has always been a good track for me," said Lewis. "The infield gets pretty slick because it's just baked in the sun and doesn't get raced on as much as the oval. So, you'd like to put a lot more downforce into the car for that. But, if you do that, you're going to get eaten alive on the oval. It's a tough track to find the right balance on. We ran pretty well there last year when this race was in the spring. I'm hoping that we can carry that into this weekend."

Adding to the expectations for Lewis this weekend is that the Phoenix 250 marks the first time in Rolex Sports Car Series history that the thoroughbred Daytona Prototype racing machines will compete in a stand-alone event. As is traditional in sports car racing, every other event since the 2000 creation of the Series has been run as a multi-class format. In 2005, Grand American officials shrunk the number of classes to two; DPs and production-based GTs. With the slower GT cars competing in their own race on Friday evening, Lewis and the other Daytona Prototypes will not have to concern themselves with getting involved in the battles between the slower GT cars. Saturday's race should be a full-out battle for DP supremacy. The 21 Daytona Prototype field is scheduled to take the green flag for the 250-mile (166 laps) event at 7 PM (PDT) on Saturday, September 10.

"It'll be different without the GT cars in this race, for sure," Lewis commented about the spilt race format. "This is something we've all been asking for and Phoenix is probably the right place to try it. This track gets pretty crowded and having half the cars out there will help both classes. It'll give the fans two great shows."

SPEED Channel will broadcast the race- which has a time limit of two hours and 45-minutes- at 4 PM (EDT) on September 11th. Live timing and scoring can be found at www.GrandAmerican.com beginning with Thursday's first practice (7:25 PM PDT) and including qualifying at 6:45 PM (PDT), Friday.

For more on Shane Lewis please see www.ShaneLewis.com.

Southard Motorsports can be found at www.SouthardMotorsports.com.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Shane Lewis , Steve Southard